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Steve Jobs kept us busy during his keynote at Macworld Expo, introducing two new PowerBooks; updates to iMovie 3, iPhoto 2, and iDVD 3 (grouped with iTunes 3 into a package called iLife); a presentation application called Keynote; and the new Safari Web browser. We cover them all, including a look at how it affects the Apple-Microsoft relationship. Also this week: X11 for Mac OS X; Rendezvous support from TiVo, Brother, and Aspyr; and Office X 10.1.3.

Jeff Carlson No comments

Apple Releases X11 for Mac OS X

Apple Releases X11 for Mac OS X — Leveraging the Unix core of Mac OS X, Apple has made available a public beta of X11 for Mac OS X, an environment that enables X11 applications to run within Mac OS X and makes it easier to port X11 applications to the Mac. The X11 package includes display server software, client libraries, and developer toolkits; an optional X11 Software Developer Kit for Mac OS X is also available. The public beta is available now as a free 41.5 MB download; the SDK is a 3.8 MB download. [JLC]


Jeff Carlson No comments

TiVo, Brother, and Aspyr Rendezvous with Macs

TiVo, Brother, and Aspyr Rendezvous with Macs — Apple made networking easier with the introduction of Rendezvous, a method of automatic discovery and connection of devices over IP networks that the company has submitted as an open-source standard. Now, other companies are starting to implement Rendezvous, starting with three announcements made last week. TiVo Series2 digital video recorders will soon be able to discover Macs and play shared music or display photos on a TiVo-equipped television, using an upcoming premium service package. Brother’s HL-5070N Laser Printer boasts the capability to streamline the process of setting up and printing to local printers, and Aspyr’s NASCAR Racing 2002 Season game makes it easy for multiple players to find and join games on their network. [JLC]


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Mark H. Anbinder No comments

Microsoft Office X 10.1.3 Released

Microsoft Office X 10.1.3 Released — Microsoft today released an updater for Microsoft Office X to address several issues with the Italian Spelling Tool and the French Proofing Tools. Installing 10.1.3 requires that you already have the 10.1.2 update (released in November) installed.

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The update patches the English, French, German, Spanish, and Swedish versions of Office X, and the stand-alone Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Entourage applications for Mac OS X. Since the update appears to fix only issues with foreign-language features within Microsoft Office, it’s not clear that most users will need this upgrade. [MHA]

Geoff Duncan No comments

New Apple Software Spices up iLife

Saying he had "two Macworld’s worth of stuff for you today," Steve Jobs unveiled a host of new software (and hardware, covered elsewhere in this issue) offerings at his Macworld Expo San Francisco 2003 keynote address. In fact, the sheer number of products prevents us from going into much detail about the software in this issue – look for more detailed analysis in upcoming editions of TidBITS.

iLife — The digital hub remains a core Apple strategy, and the company has tightened the radius of its iApps by creating iLife, a bundle consisting of iTunes 3, iPhoto 2, iMovie 3, and iDVD 3. In addition to new features, these applications now integrate with each other – so iTunes playlists are available in iMovie, iPhoto albums are accessible in iDVD, etc. iPhoto 2 and iMovie 3 will be available 25-Jan-03 for free download (iTunes 3 is already available). Due to iDVD’s size, it’s not practical to make it available online, so on 25-Jan-03 Apple will start selling the entire iLife package on CD-ROM for $50.


Keynote — Steve Jobs has always been noted for his showy keynote addresses; now he’s revealed the application he used to create his sophisticated slide shows during 2002. Keynote is a presentation program which takes advantage of Mac OS X display technologies like Quartz and OpenGL to make sophisticated slide shows. It imports and exports from PowerPoint, making it an intriguing alternative to Microsoft’s dominant presentation program (see "Apple Reduces Its Microsoft Dependency" elsewhere in this issue). Keynote is available now for $100.


Final Cut Express — Apple also announced Final Cut Express, a slightly stripped-down version of its Final Cut Pro digital video editing application. Final Cut Express uses the same interface as Final Cut Pro and offers most of the pro-level non-linear editing, transitions, and real-time effects as its big brother at about one-third of the price. That makes it a good choice for someone who wants to produce projects more sophisticated than what iMovie can handle, but who doesn’t need extensive image capture and export capabilities. Final Cut Express is available now for $300.


Safari Public Beta — One of the most exciting announcements was Safari, Apple’s home-grown Web browser. Built by some of the folks who develop Chimera for Mac OS X, Safari is a new Web browser based on the open source KHTML rendering engine. Apple intends it to be the fastest browser available on the Mac – and so far, they seem to be pulling it off – with easy-to-use features. Currently Safari is in public beta and available as a tiny 2.9 MB download. On 10-Jan-03, Apple released a v51 update, which is recommended for everyone who initially downloaded Safari in the first few days after release.


Adam Engst No comments

New PowerBooks: Mini Me and the Lunch Tray

Amid rumors of video iPods and tablet Macs appearing during the Macworld Expo keynote address, Steve Jobs calmly introduced a pair of new PowerBook models that slot neatly into Apple’s existing iBook and PowerBook lines. The most obvious distinction for the new machines is display size, and that’s how Apple refers to them officially: the 12-inch PowerBook G4 and the 17-inch PowerBook G4. The 12-inch PowerBook G4 packs a lot of power into the smallest laptop Apple has ever made, and the 17-inch PowerBook G4 breaks new ground for the size of a screen in a laptop computer. Both PowerBooks support Apple’s new 802.11g AirPort Extreme wireless networking; both also exclusively run Mac OS X and cannot boot into Mac OS 9 (though the Classic environment is still available to run Mac OS 9 applications).


Given Apple’s penchant for differentiating the names of new Macs as little as possible, there was much talk at the show about what these new PowerBooks would end up being called. After all, many people refer to the Titanium PowerBook G4 as the TiBook, and Apple’s parenthetical descriptors like Power Mac G4 (Mirrored Drive Doors) are both awkward and hard to say (and as a wag at the Netters Dinner chided me when I said the entire name aloud, the parentheses are silent). So the attendees of the Netters Dinner voted the most popular name for the 17-inch PowerBook G4 as "Lunch Tray," with the 12-inch PowerBook G4’s matching name being "Happy Meal." Despite the elegance of a matching set of names, I suspect many people will call the 12-inch PowerBook something based on "Mini Me," the character played by Verne Troyer in the Austin Powers movies. That comes thanks to Apple’s hilarious TV ad for the new PowerBooks featuring the diminutive Troyer with Yao Ming, the 7-foot, 6-inch (2.3 m) center for basketball’s Houston Rockets. We’ll see what names actually catch on in common usage.

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17-inch PowerBook G4 — With the new 17-inch PowerBook, Apple broke new ground in laptop size. The 17-inch screen is reportedly the largest laptop screen ever, although at 1440 by 900 (the widescreen 16 by 10 aspect ratio), it can’t claim the award for highest resolution, since some PC laptops have screens that run at 1600 by 1200. Kudos go to Apple’s designers for implementing a counterweight in the hinge that makes the lid incredibly smooth to open and close. Despite the massive screen, Apple managed to keep the overall weight down to 6.8 pounds (3.1 kg). It’s also the thinnest PowerBook yet, with a thickness of just under 1 inch (2.54 cm), which is slightly thinner than the existing Titanium PowerBook G4. Rounding out the dimensions, it’s 15.4 inches (39.2 cm) wide and 10.2 inches (25.9 cm) deep.


Rather than rely on titanium for the new PowerBooks, Apple switched to an aircraft-grade anodized aluminum. Although I’m not enough of a metallurgist to verify this, Apple claims the anodized aluminum is lighter and stiffer than the titanium used in the TiBook. My reading of bicycle frame building discussions comparing aluminum and titanium agree that aluminum is lighter, but not generally stiffer. However, it’s also clear from reading those discussions that specific design makes a huge difference in final stiffness. The aluminum isn’t painted, which will please those people whose watches have scratched the titanium finish or whose hand oil has caused the TiBook’s paint to bubble and peel.

Under the hood, the 17-inch PowerBook G4 offers a 1 GHz PowerPC G4 processor with 1 MB L3 cache, 512 MB of PC2700 DDR RAM (upgradable to 1 GB), a GeForce4 440 Go graphics processor with 64 MB VRAM, a 60 GB hard disk, a slot-loading SuperDrive (CD-RW/DVD-R), two USB ports, Gigabit Ethernet, a PC Card slot, audio line in, stereo speakers, a headphone jack, and an internal microphone. Video out is handled by S-video and DVI connectors, and Apple includes a DVI to VGA adapter. The 17-inch PowerBook G4 supports dual displays, and a new function key on the keyboard lets you switch easily between an extended desktop and mirrored displays. Despite the huge screen and fast processor, Apple claims users should see up to 4.5 hours of battery life with the new lithium-ion prismatic battery.

FireWire is also onboard, in the form of a standard FireWire 400 port and a new separate FireWire 800 port that runs at, you guessed it, 800 Mbps. FireWire 800 requires a new connector, but it’s backward compatible with FireWire 400 if you use the adapter Apple provides. And speaking of ports, the two USB connections are smartly placed, one on each side of the base, making it easier for left-handed users (or anyone using extra USB devices such as video or audio editing controllers) to minimize cable clutter.

Also built in are not one, but two forms of wireless communication. Bluetooth is now standard for communicating with cell phones and other Bluetooth-capable devices. Then there’s AirPort Extreme, an enhanced version of AirPort wireless networking. AirPort Extreme relies on the 802.11g draft standard to provide 54 Mbps of bandwidth when communicating with another AirPort Extreme device, while still maintaining full backward compatibility with 11 Mbps (802.11b) AirPort devices. In a bit of good news for frustrated TiBook users looking to upgrade, Apple moved the antennas (which are used by both AirPort Extreme and Bluetooth, with some clever switching to make sure they don’t interfere with one another) from the base to the upper edges of the screen. Apple claims that reception should be as good as with the recent iBook models, which provide better reception than any other machine I’ve seen.

Lastly, Apple upped the cool factor of the 17-inch PowerBook by adding a fiber optic system that illuminates the keyboard from underneath, with the light shining through laser-etched keycaps. That’s neat, but what’s even neater is that it’s controlled by an ambient light sensor that automatically raises the level of backlight as the room light goes down. The ambient light sensor also automatically adjusts the screen brightness, although you can control both manually from the keyboard as well. People who regularly work in dim environments are sure to find this particularly useful.

The 17-inch PowerBook G4 will be available in February (though Apple’s online store currently lists a 7 to 10 week estimated shipping timeline) for $3,300, and short of paying $300 more to add another 512 MB of RAM, there aren’t any other options. It comes with a free copy of Intuit’s QuickBooks for Mac New User Edition.

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I’ll be interested to see how the 17-inch PowerBook sells. Although the price is reasonable, the feature set is extremely good, and the screen is stupendous, it has one problem: it’s big. Really big. Almost without exception, everyone I talked with at the show felt it was too big to be used as a general laptop computer, although it would be ideal for someone who merely needs a portable computer that can be moved from desk to desk. Though it’s only very slightly taller than the TiBook thanks to a clever screen hinge, it’s awfully wide, and I can’t imagine using it in coach on most airplanes. It won’t fit in many PowerBook bags, but the Apple Online Store offers two optional Brenthaven cases that are designed to hold it (and other bag manufacturers have already started working up new designs). When I asked about the size issue, Greg Joswiak, Apple’s vice president of hardware products, shrugged and said, "That’s what they said about the Titanium PowerBook G4 when it came out, too." For Apple’s sake, I hope he’s right, since it’s one heck of a cool machine, and there will be people for whom it is utterly perfect.

12-inch PowerBook G4 — It was the biggest of PowerBooks, it was the smallest of PowerBooks. With apologies to Charles Dickens, that’s how the keynote felt, since after introducing the big-screen 17-inch PowerBook G4, Steve Jobs reversed gears and showed off the svelte 12-inch PowerBook G4.

It shares an anodized aluminum case with the 17-inch PowerBook G4, but with a 12.1-inch screen running at 1024 by 768, the new PowerBook has more in common with the 12-inch iBook. It’s even smaller than the iBook in every way, measuring only 1.2 inches (3.0 cm) high, 10.9 inches (27.7 cm) wide, 8.6 inches (21.8 cm) deep, and weighing in at 4.6 pounds (2.1 kg). Both the PowerBook Duo and PowerBook 2400 are slightly smaller than the 12-inch PowerBook G4 in one or two dimensions, but not in all three or in overall volume.

But where the iBook has been slowed by its reliance on the PowerPC G3, the 12-inch PowerBook G4 uses an 867 MHz PowerPC G4. To that it adds 256 MB of PC2100 DDR RAM (expandable to 640 MB), a 40 GB hard disk (add $50 for a 60 GB disk) a GeForce4 420 Go graphics processor with 32 MB VRAM and dual display support, a slot-loading Combo drive (CD-RW/DVD-ROM), VGA and S-video out (both via an adapter), a FireWire 400 port, two USB ports, 10/100Base-T Ethernet, along with stereo speakers (and a third mid-range speaker embedded in the bottom of the base), audio line in, headphone output, and an internal microphone. On the wireless front, the 12-inch PowerBook G4 boasts built-in Bluetooth support as well as a slot for an optional $100 AirPort Extreme card. The antennas are in the screen again, and Apple claims it should match the iBook’s wireless range. Apple also says the 12-inch PowerBook G4 gets up to 5 hours of battery life from a lithium-ion battery.

The 12-inch PowerBook G4 should be available in about two weeks with prices starting at $1,800; for an extra $200, you can replace the Combo drive with a SuperDrive (CD-RW/DVD-R). It currently ships with a copy of Intuit’s QuickBooks. Unfortunately, the 12-inch PowerBook lacks the ambient light sensor and fiber optic keyboard backlight of the 17-inch PowerBook G4.

While I’m unsure about how well the 17-inch model will do, I have few doubts about the 12-inch model, since there are many people for whom the TiBook was too large and expensive, but the iBook suffered from lack of both performance and dual display support. Adding Bluetooth and AirPort Extreme merely sweetens the deal. The 12-inch PowerBook G4 is, quite simply, the perfect travelling laptop for a serious Mac user. And I want one.

A Step Back — All that said, you may have noticed a few annoying limitations in the 12-inch PowerBook G4. Although 640 MB of RAM is enough, many people would like to install more. A PC Card slot might be nice, and a backlit keyboard would be welcome. It also has only VGA out instead of DVI, FireWire 400 rather than FireWire 800, and 10/100 Mbps Ethernet rather than Gigabit Ethernet. Why the limitations? Though space and power are undoubtedly tight in such a small machine, Apple was careful to provide a rational way for people to choose among Apple’s iBook and PowerBook models, and the company didn’t want the 12-inch PowerBook G4 to eclipse the larger and more expensive PowerBooks (the 15-inch Titanium models are still offered, and now represent the mid-range of the PowerBook line). Apple’s pricing ramps up smoothly, as you can see in the list below:

  • $1,000: 12-inch iBook (CD-ROM, 700 MHz)
  • $1,300: 12-inch iBook (Combo, 800 MHz)
  • $1,500: 14-inch iBook (basic config)
  • $1,750: 14-inch iBook (more RAM and hard disk)
  • $1,800: 12-inch PowerBook G4 (Combo drive)
  • $2,000: 12-inch PowerBook G4 (SuperDrive)
  • $2,300: 15-inch Titanium PowerBook G4 (Combo drive, 867 MHz)
  • $2,800: 15-inch Titanium PowerBook G4 (SuperDrive, 1 GHz)
  • $3,300: 17-inch PowerBook G4 (SuperDrive, 1 GHz)

The feature set of each machine follows along with the price, making it easy to determine which laptop is right for you. Apple is clearly taking portables seriously, and Steve Jobs said that the company believes that someday portables will outsell desktops. Currently, about a third of Apple’s Macintosh sales go to notebooks, compared with less than a quarter of sales industry-wide.

Keep this product line ramp up in mind as you imagine what the future might bring. I could see Apple releasing a 15-inch PowerBook G4 using the anodized aluminum case of the new PowerBooks, particularly if the current TiBook continues to meet the needs of many new customers. I also think a G4-based iBook might be in the offing, but only if the total package doesn’t impinge on the PowerBook line.

Adam Engst No comments

Apple Reduces Its Microsoft Dependency

As is becoming increasingly common at Macworld Expo, Apple dominated attendees’ attention by introducing a wide-ranging set of new hardware and software products. The new 12-inch and 17-inch PowerBooks, the speedy 802.11g-based AirPort Extreme, significant updates to three of the four iApps, three new major applications in Safari, Keynote, and Final Cut Express… the rapid-fire of announcements had journalists scribbling madly through Steve Jobs’s two-hour keynote presentation.

But, as interesting and important as most of the announcements were, the release of the Safari Web browser and the Keynote presentation program offer the first major public look at what has been one of Apple’s main goals of late: to reduce the company’s dependence on Microsoft for essential productivity software. The task is by no means done, so look for future moves to complete the task of making Microsoft’s software excellent alternatives, rather than the sole choices in any given field.

Past Efforts — When Steve Jobs returned to Apple in 1997, a five-year agreement was made between the companies, requiring Microsoft to continue producing Macintosh software, in exchange for which Apple would bundle Microsoft software – Outlook Express and Internet Explorer – with the Mac OS. That agreement is over now and won’t be renewed, but Apple has been working for some time to wean itself from Microsoft, a move that’s not only in Apple’s best interests, but which may also benefit Microsoft by giving the company’s Macintosh Business Unit (MacBU) some much-needed competition.


Though Apple didn’t make much of it at the time, the inclusion of Mail with Mac OS X was the first step in this strategy, enabling Apple to drop Microsoft’s Outlook Express, which had been bundled previously. More recent public hints came with Apple’s unveiling of iChat in May of 2002, since iChat specifically offered compatibility with AOL Instant Messenger, rather than Microsoft’s MSN Messenger. Then, although it wasn’t blatant, Apple’s system-wide Address Book and the release of iCal meant that Apple had duplicated most of the basic features of Entourage X. The public problems became more obvious after Microsoft complained about how Office X wasn’t selling well enough because Apple wasn’t helping to market it.



Big Game with Safari — Once the cracks began to show, it became clear that Internet Explorer would be Apple’s first target. Internet Explorer’s favored position on the Dock made it the only non-Apple program to receive such treatment, and given the undeniable importance of a Web browser in today’s computing world, Apple simply had to reclaim that spot.

Conceivably, Apple could have purchased one of the smaller browsers, such as OmniWeb or iCab, but the company has avoided that approach with the iApps after turning Casady & Greene’s SoundJam into iTunes. In particular, Apple chose to develop iPhoto and iCal in house, even though there were plenty of decent programs that Apple could have bought to kick start the development effort. Part of that is undoubtedly Apple’s desire to show how quickly Cocoa applications can be developed from scratch; there’s probably some of the old "Not Invented Here" syndrome in play as well, although there are good reasons to write software yourself, as you can read in the "Joel on Software" article linked below.

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So Apple set out to create their own browser, hiring a Netscape developer who was also working on the open source browser Chimera. That led to assumptions that Apple would use the open source Gecko HTML rendering engine that’s behind all of the Netscape-derived browsers (Netscape, Mozilla, and Chimera), but those assumptions proved false when Steve Jobs announced that Apple had instead chosen the open source KHTML engine, reportedly because KHTML is significantly faster than Gecko and has about seven times fewer lines of code. Whatever the under-the-hood details, Safari looks to be a good, if not yet great, Web browser, and we hope Apple will continue to use it to push the browser paradigm forward.


Does the release of Safari change the Web browser landscape? Yes, since it will overnight become one of the primary Web browsers on the Internet, and anyone writing HTML must test against Safari along with all the other heavily used browsers. But overall, I don’t think Mac users will find the change all that unsettling. Until Safari, Internet Explorer was the dominant browser, and all the rest (Netscape, Mozilla, Chimera, iCab, OmniWeb, and Opera) were used by people for whom Internet Explorer wasn’t quite right. I suspect Safari will replace Internet Explorer, not just on the Dock, but also as the dominant Macintosh Web browser, and Internet Explorer will join the others as a browser of choice for those who eschew the status quo.

Selling the Keynote — If the release of Safari was not unexpected, the appearance of Keynote was an almost complete surprise. Perhaps PowerPoint experts had been wondering about some of the effects in Steve Jobs’s Macworld Expo keynotes in 2002, all of which relied on pre-release versions of Keynote, but if there was any such speculation, I never heard it. I had been thinking privately that Apple might be working to beef up AppleWorks so it could give Microsoft Office X some competition, but since AppleWorks doesn’t include presentation software, I wasn’t thinking in those terms.

In retrospect, though, a cutting-out expedition to separate the weakest member of the Office suite from the herd makes total sense. Excel occupies an extremely solid position, since it’s incredibly mature and Excel spreadsheets are required for the day-to-day functioning of innumerable businesses. Word’s position is also rather secure, thanks to the need for people to exchange Word documents among Macintosh and Windows users and to import them into layout programs. Word is more vulnerable than Excel, though, because many people find the program’s features – even essential ones such as version tracking and comments – ungainly and awkward. As much as Word is currently an essential application for vast numbers of people, a competitor that read and wrote Word format files perfectly would have a chance of supplanting it.

With Mail, Address Book, and iCal already offering an alternative to Entourage, PowerPoint made sense as the next target for Apple. With the exception of a few programs like ConceptDraw Presenter from small companies, PowerPoint hasn’t had any real competition since the demise of Aldus Persuasion in the mid-1990s. Although PowerPoint isn’t a bad program, it had become the dominant presentation program more through its inclusion in the Office suite than its incomparable feature set or overwhelming ease of use. PowerPoint’s file compatibility is important, but not nearly as much as with Word, and it doesn’t fill the day-to-day role of Excel in running a business.

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Hence Keynote. Although I’m not qualified to compare it to PowerPoint on a feature-by-feature basis, it looks as though it will be highly credible competition. Not surprisingly, Apple focused on helping users make visually arresting presentations with Keynote, but in a forward-thinking move, Keynote’s file format uses XML (eXtensible Markup Language). Since XML files are merely structured text files, other programs will be able to write out Keynote files, thus making it possible to create automatic presentations based, for instance, on daily sales data. Plus, Apple enabled Keynote to import and export PowerPoint files, a capability that should address many file compatibility concerns (reportedly, QuickTime movies in PowerPoint presentations must be moved over manually).


Unlike the free Safari and iApps, Keynote costs $100, and thus will not automatically take over as the Macintosh presentation software of choice. But the buzz about it at Macworld Expo was positive, and if nothing else, it should serve as a wakeup call to the PowerPoint team that they need to innovate or risk losing the Macintosh platform.

How Should Microsoft Respond? While not declaring war, Apple has certainly thrown down the gauntlet, and it remains to be seen how Microsoft will respond. Microsoft’s MacBU has been flailing since the release of Office X in October of 2001. The more recent departure of MacBU general manager Kevin Browne emphasized the group’s confusion and underscored the importance of Apple reducing its dependency on Microsoft for essential software.

Apple must extricate itself from this too-close relationship with Microsoft carefully. Were Microsoft to become too angry about how Apple was portraying the company and its products, it’s not inconceivable that Microsoft would dissolve the MacBU (which probably doesn’t contribute that much to Microsoft’s bottom line) and stop producing Macintosh software entirely. Such a move could still be disastrous for Apple, given the essential roles that Word and Excel play in business, government, and academia. However, I expect better from Microsoft, particularly since the company has long utilized the same strategy in the Windows market that Apple is following in the Macintosh market. What’s good for the goose…

Aside from the problem of being beholden to a company that is essentially your primary competition, the other reason it makes sense for Apple to lessen its dependency on Microsoft is that Microsoft hasn’t been delivering of late. It’s been 14 months since the release of Office X, and although carbonization of the four programs in the Office suite was an admittedly huge undertaking, Office X has few new features over Office 2001, released 13 months earlier. And Internet Explorer hasn’t seen a major update since March of 2000, thanks in part to being left without a development team for long periods of time.

Sadly, a renewed sense of purpose at Microsoft, if it’s indeed happening internally, hasn’t yet bubbled to the surface. In our briefing with Microsoft, the only new thing they showed was MSN for Mac OS X, a novice-level Internet service that, short of some moderately interesting parental controls, was basically a yawn. But even MSN for Mac OS X was exciting compared to the rest of Microsoft’s limp announcements – the extension of a discount on Office X for new Mac buyers, the release of Entourage X on its own for $100, and the bundling of the Office X Test Drive with all new Macs (in which you can see Apple trying to let Microsoft down gently). My questions about whether we’d see a new version of Office X in 2003 were ducked, and no one would venture a comment on Safari or Keynote.

Call me an optimist, but I hope that Apple reducing its dependency on Microsoft will motivate Microsoft to take renewed interest in moving Office X and Internet Explorer forward in interesting and innovative ways. Competition is a good thing, and Microsoft hasn’t had nearly enough of it lately.