Apples Jobs Intros G5 Xserve

UPDATED: Steve Jobs addressed the performance gap in Apple's server lineup by bringing the rack-mounted system up to speed with the PowerPC G5.

Addressing a performance gap between Apple Computer Inc.s server line and its desktop models, CEO Steve Jobs on Tuesday cut the ribbon on Macworld Expo San Francisco with a PowerPC G5 version of the companys Xserve rack-mounted server.

Jobs also ushered in a new Mac OS X version of Microsoft Office and introduced a smaller version of its MP3 player as well as a new assortment of Apple-branded consumer software for Mac users.

Like the original PowerPC G4 model, the new version of the Xserve comes in a 1U form factor; it features single and dual 2.0GHz G5 processors, ECC memory, an optical drive, up to 750GB of storage, and an unlimited client license for Mac OS X. A single-processor configuration is $2,999, a dual-processor model is $3,999, and a "compute node" costs $2,999. All the models will ship in February. Apple also updated the Xserve RAID system to support 3.5 terabytes of online storage, which Jobs said was a 30 percent increase. Users will be able to hook up to 16 set slices per Xserve RAID. The enhanced storage systems will range from $5,999 to $10,999, Jobs said.

Leading the charge of third-party announcements at the keynote event, Roz Ho, general manager of Microsofts Mac Business Unit, announced Mac Office 2004. The new Mac OS X-native version of the office suite will feature a new Word Notebook View, a page-layout view in Excel and a new set of project-management tools in Entourage.

Microsoft said the suite will be available in the spring; customers who purchase the current version before that will be able to upgrade free, Ho said.


Other third-party releases for Mac OS X announced at the event include a Mac OS X of the NetVault backup package from BakBone Software Inc.

Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple itself announced Version 2.0 of Final Cut Express, the companys consumer video-editing package, available now for $299.

As predicted by Mac rumor sites, Jobs unveiled the iPod mini, a $249 MP3 player that packs 4GB of data. The new hardware is the size of a business card and half an inch thick; it includes the full iPod interface and accommodates FireWire and USB 2 interfaces. The anodized aluminum devices come in five colors and are compatible with Mac and Windows; they will be available in February in the United States and worldwide in April.

Meanwhile, Apple is upgrading its entry-level model from 10GB to 15GB of storage for the same price of $299.

Last quarter, Jobs said, Apple sold 730,000 iPods; the company sold its 2 millionth iPod in December. For October and November, he said, Apple was No. 1 for units and revenues in the MP3 market; Jobs predicted the company would widen its lead in December.

Next page: Variety is the spice of iLife.