two rumors at thinksecret.com suggest so, the first: In the company's communications with education buyers late last month, Apple said that schools will still be able to purchase Mac OS 9 hardware in 2003. While Apple's new hardware models will next year boot into Mac OS X only, the company now plans to offer certain configurations to the education market that will boot into OS 9. Previously, education customers were in the same boat as other customers, and were being told that their only option would be to purchase Mac OS 9 hardware before the switch to OS X-only booting was made. However, education customers are perhaps in a different situation than many other Mac users. While major applications ranging from Adobe Photoshop to Microsoft Office are running natively on OS X, a great deal of education software has yet to be ported. The official word came out in November from John Couch, Apple's Vice President of Education, and the news was quickly passed along to technology coordinators at school districts nationwide. According to the email, Apple's data says that 50% of new hardware orders from education have OS X as the default OS, and the company expects this to rise to over 75% by the next Education buying season, in April. "To accommodate the last 25% who still wish to buy their Macs with OS 9 installed as the default OS, Apple will continue to offer our Education customers some configurations of the current eMac, iBook, and CRT iMac product lines that will boot into Mac OS 9 until June 2003," the email from Apple said. Educators were not provided with additional specifics, but several we spoke with were promised more info from Apple by the holiday season. Meanwhile, another education contact says that Apple has also sent engineers on-site to developers of educational software that are still working on OS X versions or are having problems with Classic compatibility. Apple is apparently maintaining a list of software that must be running natively on Mac OS X before a number of school districts will make a significant switch, and the company is making a significant effort to get developers up to speed. "All parties involved are working very, very hard to resolve the outstanding issues and we are very pleased in the progress that has been made," said one educator of Apple's efforts. At a recent educational forum, one Apple engineer said that the target date for this software running on OS X is this summer. This comes amid Think Secret's Wednesday report that Quark Inc. is telephoning XPress users, asserting that they will still be able to purchase OS 9 Macs next year. It's still not known whether Apple actually agreed to this request from Quark. And the second: Quark Inc. is telephoning a number of publishing customers worldwide, assuring them that even though new Mac models will boot only into Mac OS X beginning next year, XPress users will still be able to buy OS 9-booting hardware. This comes amid concerns about the slipping release date for QuarkXPress 6 for Mac OS X, set to ship in the latter part of next year. Think Secret has spoken with several Quark customers who have been contacted by the company in recent days. One large client was told by Quark that the company had negotiated with Apple to ensure that XPress users would be able to buy new Mac OS 9-bootable Macs until the middle of next year. Another user provided a similar report. According to this customer, a Quark representative called to say that Apple would continue to sell the current G4s to XPress customers next year, even if new hardware is released that won't boot into OS 9. "Yeah, I really want to buy yesterday's Mac so I can run theirapp," the user said sarcastically. The first reports of Quark's communication came Tuesday in a letter posted to MacInTouch, also sent to Think Secret. This reader made even bolder claims, saying that Quark told him that Apple had agreed to delay its entire OS X-only booting policy until June 2003. Whether this is what the user was truly told by Quark or is an exaggeration of what was reported by the other clients we spoke to is anyone's guess. Several of the Quark clients called were attendees of a conference held by Quark in New York last month, in which CEO Fred Ebrahimi disparaged the Mac platform and struck back at critics of Quark's sluggish OS X pace. "The Mac platform is shrinking" and users dissatisfied with Quark's Mac efforts should "switch to something else," he told the assembled guests, most of whom were shocked by his comments and left the session early. When news of Ebrahimi's remarks leaked, Quark's public relations department addressed the subject in an email, but the company didn't dispute that the quotes were true, and in fact supported Ebrahimi's claim that fewer publishers are purchasing Macs. "With respect to Mac OS, our market data indicates that fewer publishers are purchasing Macs," said Quark communications manager Glen Turpin, "and more of our Mac-using customers are considering switching to Windows." These recent calls to attendees may be some form of damage control. The answers to the real questions are less clear. Quark is definitely telling its users that XPress customers will be able to purchase Mac OS 9-booting hardware in 2003, but is this true, and has the company finalized these plans with Apple? If so, how would such a purchase program be administered? While Quark contacts say that the two companies discussed such matters, there is no indication that Apple agreed to these concessions. This recent addition to the ongoing soap opera between Apple and Quark is nothing new. Over the years, both sides have had a rocky relationship, with Quark often feeling Apple has not given them enough credit or support for maintaining much of Apple's marketshare in the prepress business. As for Apple, it appears they never know exactly where they stand with Quark week-to-week. At a meeting of Apple Specialist dealers back in May, a top executive of Apple's developer relations department showed his frustration with Quark by saying, "Quark is the most difficult company to work with of any of our developers. You never know what mood they'll be in from one day to the next." Quark and Apple did not return emails requesting comment.