The WWDC Rant: The Short Keynote Update

August 7th, 2006

There’s something to be said for a live radio broadcast of an event. You just need a mic, some way to transfer your signal to the station or an intermediate feeding mechanism, such as satellite, and you’re good to go. But when it comes to online publishing, you have to depend on a some way to transfer your data to the host servers, and in a live event, that usually means some sort of mobile Internet hookup, or Wi-Fi.

Here at San Francisco’s Moscone West, we have a live hookup for the latter, but it was disabled, as expected, during the keynote.

The keynote was a mixed bag, other than the fact that I tripped during my run to the front rows of the press area. No sympathy from anyone, but no injuries either.

Some of the expectations from the rumor sites, such as updated note-books, to take advantage of new Intel chips, weren’t announced. There was also nothing about the iPod either, because the WWDC was sharply focused on just two things: The completion of Apple’s transition to Intel chips, and the first look at Mac OS X Leopard.

The Power Mac’s successor, the Mac Pro is shipping today, and it comes in the same basic case as the Power Mac. But Apple is taking advantage of the cooler-running Intel Xeon processors and adding lots of extra room inside for up to four hard drives and two optical drives. The standard configuration, at $2,499, includes a pair of 2.66GHz Xeons, but you can get up to 3GHz and lots of options if you opt for a custom configuration. A Xeon-equipped Xserve will ship in October.

Coming in the spring of 2007 is Mac OS X Leopard. Alas some features are still labeled by Steve Jobs as “Top Secret,” which means we won’t know about them for a while. For now, there’s no indication of any changes to the Finder or the rest of the interface, but there are some nifty enhancements for iChat, Mail, Dashboard, Spotlight, and the rest of the pack.

One of my favorite new features is the system-wide backup/restore utility, Time Machine. Apple says that just 26% of Mac users do backups, and only 4% use dedicated backup software. With Time Machine and an external drive or server, it’s all done automatically. Even better, if you accidentally misplace or delete a file, you can search back through time (or at least the timeframe tracked by Time Machine) to find the file and restore it.

Jobs also said that all of the needed applications would be bundled with Leopard, including a revised Front Row and Photo Booth. He didn’t say anything about iLife, but since it’s critical to getting the most power out of Leopard, I wouldn’t be surprised if they were included.

That also means, of course, that the price may be higher. I’m betting on $179 to $199, but that, and a broader picture of the scope of Tiger, is still to come.

While the keynote was somewhat dull, it also fueled the conspiracy theories. Jobs gave lots of stage time to his underlings, including Phil Schiller, and some (not this writer) might want to speculate that the way is being paved for the eventual transition to a new CEO, who’d have help to deliver the keynotes.

Or maybe Jobs was just feeling generous and wanted to give his hard-working staff more lines to deliver during a keynote.

I’ll have more to say in the next few days, but I welcome your comments in the meantime.

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11 Responses to “The WWDC Rant: The Short Keynote Update”

  1. brent lee says:

    WWDC 06′ was just amazing!!!!!!!

  2. Karan Misra says:

    I rather think that Leopard was quite lukewarm. Time Machine is the best feature I can see amongst the line-up, closely followed by Xcode 3 which wasn’t demoed as is Xcode’s fate always (developers’ conference, my foot!) but which contains ground-breaking improvements such as a redesigned Interface Builder and, finally, Garbage Collection. According to the Xcode people, Xcode 3 was written in itself, which might point to it using Garbage Collection, which would be a good encouragement for developers to follow suit.

    I am sad that no new Finder was announced. They used the same old one for the demos with no noticeable differences from the Tiger one. I really think we need something which has a higher threshold than freezing up on a lost connection from a network volume.

  3. Max says:

    Well i was reading it from, and i just hoped he made an announcement like an all-new ipod.
    I got butterflies all over at each line i read, i just wonder why

  4. Eva says:

    The “secret” stuff were probably things that are unstable, unfinished work. They probably came up with “secret” features as an excuse. Leopard launch would be really boring if they revealed everything today anyway.

    Notice they dont have any gaming benchmarks (probably didnt do well). You would think that these machines would smoke on 3d graphics. Guess not (unless running windows). Lame.

  5. The “secret” stuff were probably things that are unstable, unfinished work. They probably came up with “secret” features as an excuse. Leopard launch would be really boring if they revealed everything today anyway.

    Eva, this is a very reasonable assumption, but I’ll have more to say about this in tomorrow’s commentary.


  6. Robert Pritchett says:

    I just can’t believe we have to wait until Spring 2007 for Leopard. Since Apple has had a full year to work on Leopard. I bet if Microsoft had pushed Vista out the door, Loepard would have been there to steal the thunder.

    And with Microsoft’s Apple Business Unit giving up on VPC as a Ubinary, no wonder there is sniping. Loved the Apple ad!

  7. steve says:

    I bet if Microsoft had pushed Vista out the door, Loepard would have been there to steal the thunder.

    I’m glad they’re not pushing Leopard out the door.

  8. brent lee says:

    Jobs is not going anywhere. thank god!

  9. woz says:

    Well, it didn’t look like they fixed the finder. Or the Spotlight interfaces. I mean, it has several. Love the ‘spaces-idea’ though. Finally something Pro-users will love!

  10. KT says:

    Spaces yawn…what’s old is new again as third-party virtual desktop utilities have been around for Mac and PC for years. Who uses them? No one I know.

    Backup is good, but Gene is right that the rubber meets the road with iLife and the other Apple applications.

  11. harboiledwonderland says:

    spaces sounds good i agree i hope they do as clean a implementation as with fast user switching.

    time machine worries me a lot though, how will i be able to ensure that data i want to is really erased.
    won’t this sort of snapshot concept wreak havoc with network-wide back-ups?

    and lastly isn’t time machine a one way ticket to messing up file system stability and make things very hard for disk warrior and similar utilities.

    it reminds me a bit of problems of temporal cold-war shown on the latest “enterprise” tv franchise. you never get the timeline right for the second time, it’s just to complex.

    as for the finder and spotlight, they have to fix those.
    if they don’t do anything else, that they have to.

    in tiger all the supposedly big ticket features don’t make such a big difference to me, but spotlight and all the little refinements in the gui all the small clever improvements make tiger worth the money.

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