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Apple Watch: WWDC Announcements
Tuesday, 2006 August 8 - 11:10 pm
Two major announcements: new Mac Pros, and a preview of Mac OS X 10.5 "Leopard".

This will be brief, since this stuff has been covered extensively elsewhere.

Apple yesterday announced new Intel-based Mac Pro desktops to replace the PowerMac G5 line. The computers have two dual-core Intel Xeon "Woodcrest" processors in them (a total of four cores), at 2.0GHz, 2.66GHz, and 3.0GHz.

These things are fast.

Answering just about every Mac fan's wish list, the machines include space for four hard drives and two optical drives (compared to the G5's two hard drives and single optical drive). The hard drives are installed in cable-less slide-in carriers, which is something I've been dying to see for a long time. And similarly, memory modules are installed in removable riser cards. (Does anyone else find it strange that installing hard drives and memory still involves opening up the guts of the computer, as if it were 1979?) The standard graphic card is an Nvidia 7300GT, with available upgrades to an ATI X1900 XT or an Nvidia Quadro FX4500. Those are some screamin' fast graphics. And there's now room for a double-width graphics card without sacrificing an adjacent PCI-E slot.

The standard configuration includes the 2.66GHz processors, 1 GB of RAM (finally!), a 250GB hard drive, and a 16X dual-layer Superdrive. (No Blu-Ray yet, but that's not exactly a surprise.) And the base price? $2499. That's a good deal less than the quad-core 2.5GHz G5, which was $3299. You can get a configuration as low as $2124 (2.0GHz, 160GB HD). But A nicely equipped gaming rig (3.0GHz, 2GB RAM, ATI X1900XT) would cost $3949. Eeeek.

So, a little expensive, but pretty nice. I'd expect to see a price cut in about four to six months, which should make these things really attractive. I still can't justify buying one of these things, because my G4 is still chugging along fine, but DANG. These are some smokin' machines.

Apple also released similarly-equipped Intel XServes.

As for the Leopard preview, they didn't show everything (with the rationale that Microsoft would try to copy them if they showed their hand too early), but they did show a couple of very cool things.

First: "Time Machine". It's an automatic backup system. The cool part is the user interface... you can navigate back using an intuitive, 3D, animated interface to see older versions of any file or folder from any date. One click, and the file is restored. You have to see it to understand how imaginative the interface is.

Second: A new text-to-speech function. When I heard the demo, I thought it was a real person speaking. Take a listen here. Text-to-speech was long overdue for an update. Until yesterday, we hadn't seen much improvement in this in Mac OS for twenty years.

Third: Again, answering many a Mac fan's wish list, "Spaces". It's Apple's implementation of virtual desktops. You can create multiple workspaces and have different windows on each of them, and flip between them quickly and easily. It's probably one of the nicest virtual-desktop implementations you'll see, though I'm curious whether it supports certain features I want (like having the ability to make some window appear in all the workspaces.)

I'm sure there's gonna be a lot more. One disappointment: we won't get Leopard until spring of 2007. But I think it'll be pretty great once it gets here.

There were no surprise new products at the WWDC. No iPhone, no new iPods, no iTunes movie store. The conventional wisdom is that WWDC is developer-oriented, so Apple will wait for a different venue to announce consumer-oriented products.
Permalink  3 Comment   Bookmark and Share
Posted by Ken in: techwatch

Comments

Comment #1 from Jenn (Guest)
2006 Aug 9 - 7:46 am : #
OMG. I'm in line for a new computer around Christmas time, and for once in my life, I might have the best damn Mac there is! Woohoo! It IS expensive, but to add memory to the G5 I had my eye on would be just as expensive.
Comment #2 from JohnC (Guest)
2006 Aug 9 - 8:47 pm : #
Wait! was that our Jenn?
Comment #3 from Ken (realkato)
2006 Aug 9 - 11:07 pm : #
John, uh, no.

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