After much anticipation from users, Now Software recently shipped version 4.0 of the popular Now Utilities package. Aside from concerns regarding the exclusion of certain utilities from the package, the promised features left little wanting. Unfortunately, as clothes do not make the man, features alone do not make the program.
Shortly after the package shipped, reports of odd conflicts and bugs appeared on CompuServe and America Online, though, interestingly enough, not as evidently on the Internet. Now's online technical support staff did an excellent job, answering every post that I saw, but it became apparent that a quick bug fix was necessary, and Now posted a public message stating that they intended to drop development on all other projects (including the maintenance release of the previous version of Now Utilities 3.0.3) to concentrate on fixing version 4.0.
No one would gain from a list of bugs and conflicts here since the free updater should be available online soon, perhaps within the week. If you have installed version 4.0, I suggest you remove it from your computer if you have an unusual number of crashes, as I did on my SE/30. Going back to 3.0.2 or living without the utilities will cause less stress and frustration than having your Mac crash frequently and unexpectedly. I assure you that version 4.0.1 of the Now Utilities will fix numerous bugs and even a few design flaws (such as the one that forced everything to load after Now Toolbox, a requirement that caused problems for some low-level extensions like Connectix's Maxima). Many people (and our PowerBook 100) have had no trouble with Now Utilities 4.0, so if you haven't noticed any problems, don't worry about going back to the previous version.
I need a ROM upgrade for my crystal ball, so I can't say precisely what went wrong. In an ideal world and aided by hindsight, perhaps Now should have waited longer before releasing and should have had a larger beta program, but real life circumstances may have prevented more delay or the addition of more beta sites. Perhaps the most important issue is the sheer complexity of ensuring compatibility and testing a set of extensions with most every other application and extension in the Macintosh world. The size of that task is mind-boggling, and it's no surprise that bugs and conflicts slipped through. A single application program will have far fewer potential interactions than a set of extensions that modify system behavior, and conflicts show up even with relatively simple applications.
I'm sure that Now regrets the problems as much as you do if you've had them, and there's no use complaining over spilt software, to mangle another cliche. Once version 4.0 is as stable as version 3.0.2, I think most people will find the added features attractive and worth the upgrade price.
Now Software -- firstname.lastname@example.org