Apple Computer will come out with product guns blazing at this week's Macworld Conference & Expo, armed with several business and consumer offerings aimed at both the server and storage markets.
Presaging the event, Apple announced an upgrade to its rack-mountable Xserve G5 server, featuring dual 64-bit, PowerPC G5 processors running at speeds up to 2.3 GHz. With configurations starting at $US2,999, the server may appeal to a wider audience. To accompany the new server, Apple also unwrapped its Xsan file system for storage devices. Xsan costs $999 per client and per server and allows multiple machines to access information simultaneously from a storage system, including Apple's Xserve RAID.
Apple believes the server will have wide appeal. Apple's senior vice-president of Worldwide Product Marketing, Philip Schiller, said Apple improved the 1U server with more power and more storage.
"With 64-bit processing power coupled with Apple's ... ease of use, Xserve G5 delivers unbeatable price performance and manageability," Schiller said in a statement. "Xserve G5 ships with an unlimited client access license of Mac OS X Server that allows users to connect an unlimited number of Mac, Windows, or Linux clients to the server without additional software licensing fees."
Several industry analysts indicate Apple is examining the possibility of offering a productivity suite that would offer an alternative to Microsoft Office for its lower-end desktop machines. Although bundling such a productivity suite would help Apple eliminate the licensing fees to Microsoft, it could also potentially erode the advantage Apple systems would have in working well with PCs running Windows-based versions of Office.
However, Microsoft officials say they remain committed to producing its "Office for Mac" suite.
"Our relationship with Apple remains productive and strong," group product manager for Microsoft's Macintosh Business Unit, Scott Erickson, said.
"Microsoft has been a trusted Macintosh partner for more than 20 years, and the Mac (Business Unit) is very focused on delivering the best software on the platform to meet our customers' productivity needs, Erickson said. "Ninety-two per cent of Mac users tell us they need native file compatibility between Mac and Windows -- we deliver that with Office for Mac."