Macworld Impressions

by Bruce Stewart

I'm in decompression mode after a very busy Macworld conference and I thought I'd take this time to share a few of my most notable impressions from the show. The iPhone announcement, and resulting legal action by Cisco over the name, have been extensively covered here and all over the net, so I'll skip over that, except to say that even with the apparently closed nature of the iPhone to outside development, the Cingular lock-in, and the hefty price tag, I'll still buy one when it comes out. It was that cool. OK, moving on and in no particular order:

-Parallels is also cool, and getting cooler. They released the "Update Release Candidate for the Parallels Desktop for Mac" (how's that for a mouthful?), which promptly won a "Best of Show" award. The new version includes improved USB 2.0 support and better drag and drop functionality between Windows and Mac OS X. Parallels enjoys widespread support in the Mac developer community, but things will get interesting as VMWare enters the market with a competing product. (A public beta is available now.) VMWare has been doing virtualization for years, will support many more OS options than Parallels, and may give Parallels a serious challenge in this space. Its interesting to note though that the two main things that the VMWare rep was bragging about in their upcoming product were the exact features that Parallels just added in their newest version.

-MemoryMiner looks really compelling, and was the most interesting software I saw at the show that I wasn't already familiar with. It's a digital story-telling app that allows for private and secure group annotating of photos and other media. Really nicely done, with a slick Google Maps integration for location info. If like me, you long to have better info and organization around the digital media that reflect your life's experiences, definitely check this one out. It's one of those programs that's difficult to describe well, but you know what they say about a picture being worth a thousand words...

-Mac Office 2008 looked promising in the demo I saw. They are not just cloning the Windows version (the new Ribbon won't be in it) but rather attempting to really make it more of a Mac app in look and feel. Thankfully, Microsoft isn't really adding yet more features (and bloat) to Office with this upgrade, but rather making interface changes to make the existing extensive feature set more accessible. IMO, this is exactly what's needed, and I especially liked the new Publishing Layout View, which looks like it will vastly improve the Word experience when dealing with columns, text wrapping around images, and other desktop-publishing sorts of uses.

-There are a LOT of vendors making iPod covers, boomboxes, and add-ons. I had no idea this particular cottage industry had so many players, but I guess with the rampant success the iPod has seen, this shouldn't be surprising. Really, a lot. Seemed like every other booth was showing an iPod doodad of one sort or another. The strangest one I saw was the combo iPod external speaker unit/toliet paper dispenser. For the person who has to have their iPod with them at all times.

-Not much info for developers. As others have noted, Steve didn't even utter the word "Leopard" once during his keynote. No new macs, no new versions of iWork or iLife, no updates on the next OS. This was pretty surprising, and disappointing to me. They were showing off some of the new Leopard features during the scheduled demos at the Apple booth, but nothing we hadn't already seen from last year's WWDC. (Check out Oliver Breidenbach's take on this, he thinks we may have seen more of Leopard than we realized).

-Digital media was huge. The whole North Moscone section was devoted to digital media, and it was booming. This isn't new I realize, designers and artists have long been heavy Mac users, but it was encouraging to see so much action in both the areas of digital photography and audio. O'Reilly has embraced this in a big way too, with a great line-up of new digital media titles. Check out our Digital Media site for more details and coverage on that angle of Macworld.

-Not much swag. These people don't come to Macworld for free pens, mints, and frisbees.

Those are a few of my top-of-mind impressions from this year's Macworld. For a much more detailed report of the keynote, check out Daniel Steinberg's new Mac DevCenter article, Macworld 2007: 1984 All Over Again.


4 Comments

Sam
2007-01-12 11:57:10
I've seen a number of people that seen to be under the impression that Parallels doesn't work with non-Windows operating systems. It actually works just fine for at least Linux and FreeBSD. Like VMWare, Parallels does have more features when Windows is the OS in the virtual machine.
Bruce Stewart
2007-01-12 12:16:34
Good point Sam, I didn't mean to imply that (but see how I did, I'm going to go fix that sentence up a bit). But VMWare did make a big deal out of the fact that their product will run on many more flavors of unix, including Solaris, etc.
pauldwaite
2007-01-12 18:26:40
> "no new versions of iWork or iLife"


This floored me. It's been, what, 3 or 4 years they've been doing this every January? I guess if they put it off for another year, maybe we can stop moaning about the "upgrade tax". Dunno though, I reckon they might push the out a little later in the year. Ditto 8-core Mac Pros, ultra-thin laptop, etc.


Think we might have to wait til WWDC for Leopard to be released?

Ole Tange
2007-01-13 10:06:23
The with the nature of the closed iPhone maybe it is time for an Open Source iPhone? Maybe the Neo1973 running OpenMoko http://www.linuxtogo.org/gowiki/OpenMoko/iPhone