Looking back: When Apple wasn’t compatible with anything

EDIT: It looks like my post on NTFS + FAT32 has taken fire. All I wanted to point out was that it isn’t as easy to get NTFS working out of the box and the solution isn’t apparent to non-Macheads. There are both paid and free solutions to get this done.

That is all I wanted to say and I apologize for not getting it out the first time around.

This is an ad from the pre-OS X days of Apple. Once upon a time, Macs were the underdog choice. A ‘hipster machine’ if you may call it because it wasn’t compatible with … well, everything. And that’s what gave it appeal.

The PC to Mac Exchange was brilliant for its time. It did a total conversion of popular formats including Word, Excel and PageMaker (then by Aldus) once you inserted the files using a 5 1/4 or 3.5 floppy disk into your Mac’s drive.

Ironically, there are still quite a number of people who still ask if buying a Mac will allow them to work with Microsoft Office files. In an age where document formats are not as isolating as before (today you can open standard office files from the cloud on Google Docs), it’s surprising how some people still think this.

What Apple hasn’t fixed however is native support for the NTSF file system as Macs still run on FAT32. OR RATHER, Apple will never run on NTFS because it’s a double edged sword that can cause more problems than it’s worth. For those unfamiliar, Apple hard disks run on an older FAT32 system that is deemed more “reliable” as a consumer product compared to NTFS which is used by Windows. The main advantage of NTFS is that it allows for huge files to be stored .. we’re talking about files above 4GB. And this stats to matter if you’re storing HD movies in your hard drive. Imagine an external HD that can’t be accessed by your Mac because it’s formatted on NTFS.

And the concludes today’s trip down memory lane.

Comments

  1. You gave some mis-information, the native format of a Macintosh hard disk is HFS+
    not Fat32. The Macintosh Disk utility allows you to format disks to the Fat32 file system but this is not the native format of a Macintosh.

    The Macintosh also has the Native ability to read an NTFS formatted volume But Not write to it.

    You need to do a better job of researching your material before you publish it.

  2. According to Wikipedia PC Exchange dates back to 1992 when Apple was doing quite well (profit-wise) — coasting on its enormous usability advantage (which Windows 95 largely eliminated).

    Speaking as a Mac user from that era, Macs were surprisingly compatible in many ways, including being able to directly share files on 3.5″ PC-formatted floppies (Macs did not ordinarily have 5.25″ drives, so you might want to correct that), hard disks, and (if you knew how) CD-ROMs. Macs could also access many Windows-centric file servers and printers. Indeed I found it FAR easier to get a new Mac up-and-running on a PC-centric (i.e. Novell) network than a new Windows box. And I think this is roughly the point when all Macs started shipping with built-in ethernet support (albeit requiring a weird proprietary connector to hook up to any given network topology — until 10-base-T clearly won).

    I don’t think Linux offers native NTFS support either for much the same reason — Microsoft doesn’t give out the secret sauce.

  3. Actually, the Mac’s file system is HFS+, not FAT32. Macs can read and write to disks in FAT32 format, but they don’t “run” on it, as you say. Macs can read NTFS fine, but just can’t write to it.

  4. Definitely one of Apple’s BIG problems early on,
    Apple wasn’t even compatible with itself, i.e, nothing on the best selling Apple IIs could be carried over to a Mac
    Then they made the same mistake with the Newton. It was completely divorced from the Mac ecosytem.

  5. I appreciate the article on the ad but the rest is incomplete and misleading.

    Not sure if you are up on this, but NTFS is a non-issue on Mac with the Paragon driver. At $20 I don’t think it is a big deal to fully solve NTFS compatibility issues…

    AND Windows moved to NFTS to increase the file size it is capable of handling. Mac OS X has always had LARGE file size capacity.

    OS X 10.0 could handle a 2TB file (that’s Terabytes) in 2001
    OS X 10.2 = a 8 TB file
    OS X 10.3 = a 16 TB file
    and
    OS X 10.4 can handle a volume or file close to 8 EB (that is 8,388,608 TB)
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mac_OS_X

    The information in your article is outdated or plain misleading. It seems to say Macs can’t read and write NFTS, and perhaps implies large files are an issue for Macs.

    You state: “The main advantage of NTFS is that it allows for huge files to be stored .. we’re talking about files above 4GB. And this stats to matter if you’re storing HD movies in your hard drive. Imagine an external HD that can’t be accessed by your Mac because it’s formatted on NTFS.”
    … imagine? I find it HARD to imagine since I have no such issue.

  6. Ironically, there are still quite a number of people who still ask if buying a Mac will allow them to work with Microsoft Office files. In an age where document formats are not as isolating as before (today you can open standard office files from the cloud on Google Docs), it’s surprising how some people still think this.

    It’s not ironic. Ignorant/confused Windows users don’t randomly get the idea that they won’t be able to use any of their files on a Mac. They’re given this impression by people who should know better, and do know better, as a way of convincing them not to switch to Mac.

    I’ve seen it with my own eyes and heard it with my own ears many times. Some old person starts talking to me about his trouble doing something on his computer, I tell him that it’s easier on a Mac, he says he’s afraid to switch to Mac because Macs can’t open Microsoft Office files. I ask him why he thinks that. He says, vaguely, that’s what he’s heard.

  7. That’s a lie, mac users HFS for its disks and allows read NTFS volumes as well.

    There are also apps for writing to NTFS disks which are very reliable.

    Please look into that.

  8. OS X can READ NTFS just fine. Built in. And there are free and paid solutions to write to NTFS, too. I installed a free one and subjected it to light use. Seemed to work fine.

    Also, Macs’ hard drive are usually formatted as HFS+ Journaled (also called Mac OS Extended (Journaled). That’s the native Mac filesystem. The article seems to state that FAT 32 is the native filesystem. It’s available, but it’s not native.

    Bot

  9. First off, Macs use HFS, not FAT. They can read/write FAT media but don’t use it themselves. They can also read NTFS, but can’t write to NTFS volumes. FAT32 (but not regular FAT) is patented by MS and requires a license.

    FAT has 2 GB file size limit (not 4 GB). FAT32 was developed to overcome this limit and has a capacity far larger.

  10. “The PC to Mac Exchange … did a total conversion of popular formats including Word, Excel and PageMaker (then by Aldus) ….”

    “Ironically, there are still quite a number of people who still ask if buying a Mac will allow them to work with Microsoft Office files.”

    Ironically?, you forgot to mention the irony. Word, Excel and PageMager files were Mac only back then, and need to be converted to WordPerfect, 1-2-3, etc.”

  11. John Frum says:

    In addition to all the misinformation in this article that has already been noted, the statement that NTFS is less reliable and that its sole advantage lies with storing files larger than 4GB is simply false. The author’s sole justification is a FAT32 advocate’s article from 2004! The statements that files larger than 4G matter if you store HD movies and the next, “Imagine an external HD that can’t be accessed by your Mac because it’s formatted on NTFS” are inconsistent: one supports NTFS, the next is against it (although as noted, the latter is completely false).

    For more accurate information on NTFS, one would think the least the author and editor could have done was check the Wikipedia entry on the subject. Among its advantages are increased security and better performance. Believe it or not, NTFS has been improved since 2004–not that the referenced pro-FAT32 2004 article was very accurate to begin with.

    Is what typically passes for journalism at applegazette? Suffice it to say it doesn’t exactly reflect the quality philosophy of Apple itself.

    • It looks like my post on NTFS + FAT32 has taken fire. All I wanted to point out was that it isn’t as easy to get NTFS working out of the box and the solution isn’t apparent to non-Macheads. There are both paid and free solutions to get this done.

      That is all I wanted to say and I apologize for not getting it out the first time around.

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