Many of you know that I was at Apple's World Wide Developer's Conference last week in San Francisco. According to the rules, I can't say much in detail about what happened at the conference, but it was a good time.
For those who missed the Stevenote address (you can view it online from Apple's site ) at the beginning of the conference, here are my thoughts. Even if you don't want to take the time to watch the 1.5hr+ address, you should check out the preliminary greeting by the "PC Guy".
All humor aside, there have been a number of comments about the Stevenote being lackluster in comparison to previous years. Certainly there were two things that stood out for me in this regard: first, he quickly introduced three other players to handle much of the heavy lifting; and second, he spent more time reading his notes than in previous talks. However, even with that said, I think the address went off pretty well, especially considering that the Leopard release isn't scheduled for nearly 8 months (Spring, 2007 in Steve's speech).
The key features of Leopard touted at the keynote were the mostly user-visible modifications to existing applications. However, much more was discussed behind the scenes. I won't bore you with the details (especially since that's likely to get me in trouble with Apple Legal), but suffice it to say that there's some great stuff inside of Leopard for developers and it's likely to result in faster, prettier, and more functional applications on the Macintosh next year.
There were also two big hardware announcements at the show: the Mac Pro (which everyone was expecting to be released), and the new XServe (which seemed like a long shot and won't be available for another couple of months).
The Mac Pro is pretty much as people predicted. Not a disappointment by any stretch, except to say that the memory is expensive and the performance for vector instructions (remember when Apple touted Altivec?) is still looking a little poor in comparison to the G5 Quad. However, scalar performance, heat, noise, expansion, I/O speed, memory bandwidth, and many other features are much improved, along with the likelihood that we'll see a much faster upgrade cycle on the Mac Pro than we did on the PowerMac series (primarily because of Intel's emphasis on time-to-market and their competition with AMD).
The new XServe is going to be a real treat. Besides the obvious reason of having a lot more power than its predecessor (remember that the XServe G5 was never available in a quad-core variant), it also has better I/O and (optional) redundant power supplies. Further, the use of a networked LOM system (apparently also available via the serial port) it cause for celebration among system administrators.