Over the next few weeks, Apple's plans for NeXTStep (excuse me, OpenStep) should be made more clear. In fact, Apple intends to announce concrete plans at MacWorld in San Francisco. Internet Nexus will be there for the announcement and I'm planning on a special WinInfo report from San Francisco that week. For now, however, the news out of Cupertino is slim. Yesterday, Ellen Hancock, Apple's Chief Technology Office, did answer the most pressing question: How is Apple going to handle backwards compatibility? The answer: they're not. The first Apple OS based on NeXT technology, due late next year, will *not* offer backwards compatibility with System 7.x. Apple is hoping to make it backwards compatible by 1998, but I'm not buying it (the idea that it will be ever be compatible, that is). In the meantime, Apple will continue to update System 7, with minor refreshes due in January and July. A separate team will get Apple's new NeXT OS running sometime next year. Interestingly, Apple expects to port the new OS to Intel x86 and UNIX boxes as well, although those releases are further off