Mac OS 8 is an operating system that was released by Apple Computer on July 26, 1997. It represented the largest overhaul of the Mac OS since the release of System 7, some six years previously. It puts more emphasis on color than previous operating systems. Released over a series of updates, Mac OS 8 was an effort to integrate many of the technologies developed for Apple's overly-ambitious operating system known as Copland. Mac OS 8 helped modernize the Mac OS while Apple developed its next generation operating system, OS X. Mac OS 8 is one of Apple's most successful software releases, selling over 1.2 million copies in the first two weeks. Coming as it did at a difficult time in Apple's history, many pirate groups refused to traffic in the new operating system, encouraging people to buy it instead.
Mac OS 8.0 brought about the most significant changes in the line-up, including the introduction of the Platinum interface and a native PowerPC multi-threaded Finder. Mac OS 8.1 introduced a new, more efficient file system known as HFS Plus. Mac OS 8.5 was the first version of the Mac OS to require a PowerPC processor. It featured PowerPC native versions of QuickDraw and AppleScript, along with the Sherlock search utility. Its successor, Mac OS 9, was released on October 23, 1999.
Apple's next generation operating system, which it originally envisioned as "Mac OS 8" was codenamed Copland. It was announced in March 1994 alongside the introduction of the first PowerPC Macs. Apple intended Copland as a completely native PowerPC operating system offering intelligent agents, a microkernel, a customizable interface known as Appearance Manager, hardware abstraction, and a relational database integrated into the Finder. Copland was to be followed by Gershwin, which promised protected memory spaces and full preemptive multitasking. The operating system was intended to be a complete re-write of the Mac OS, and Apple hoped to beat Microsoft Windows 95 to market with a development cycle of just one year.
The Copland development was hampered by countless missed deadlines. The release date was first pushed back to the end of 1995, then to mid-'96, late '96, and finally to the end of 1997. With a dedicated team of 500 software engineers and an annual budget of $250 million, Apple executives began to grow impatient with the project continually falling behind schedule. At the Worldwide Developers Conference in January 1997, Apple CEO Gil Amelio announced that rather than release Copland as a single monolithic release, Copland features would be phased into the Mac OS following a six month release cycle. These updates began with Mac OS 7.6, released during WWDC. Mac OS 8.0, released six months later, continued to integrate Copland technologies into the Mac OS.
In August 1996, Apple Chief Technology Officer, Ellen Hancock, froze development of Copland and Apple began a search for an operating system developed outside the company. This ultimately led to Apple's purchase of NeXT and the development of OS X.