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Why is there no IT focus at Apple's developers conference?

Next week's WWDC is aimed at iPhone/iPad app development

June 1, 2010 06:02 AM ET

Computerworld - Apple stunned longtime Mac software developers, Mac users and Apple fans when it announced the dates and other details of its annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in late April.

In the invitation e-mails to Mac and iPhone/iPad developers and past attendees, as well as in its press release and on its developer Web site, Apple made it abundantly clear that the focus of this year's event, which runs June 7-11, will be the iPhone and iPad.

Gone from this year's Apple Design Awards for software developers were all of the categories related to the development of Mac software.

Many of the Mac OS X developer sessions and labs have been dropped, and those that are being offered will only cover areas of development that apply to both Mac OS X and iPhone OS software creation. (The iPhone OS is a specialized version of Mac OS X, meaning it shares several core technologies, mostly for low-level programming rather than interface design. The next version, iPhone OS 4.0, is due out this summer for the iPhone and this fall for the iPad.)

The move prompted a lot of confusion and some anger from longtime Mac users and developers, and no small amount of discussion about what the move signals for the future of Mac OS X. What has gotten little attention and is in some ways more troubling is the fact that Apple removed the IT session track from WWDC.

About the IT track

The IT track at WWDC has always flown under the radar and has never been quite as well attended as other development tracks, which are focused on various aspects of software development for Apple products. But it is a fundamentally important aspect of the conference and a key to encouraging the successful adoption of Apple technologies in business, education and government sectors.

Apple is generally seen as a consumer-oriented company, even more so with this year's rollout of the iPad. However, it does produce some powerful business and enterprise technologies -- Mac OS X Server; the Xserve rack-mounted server, which can host virtualized versions of Mac OS X Server, Windows Server, Linux, and most other server platforms; the Xsan cluster file system, which can connect Macs and servers to a high-speed Fibre Channel network and RAID storage volumes; Final Cut Server; tools built into Mac OS X and Mac OS X Server for quick, large-scale deployments; and the enterprise capabilities built into Mac OS X, Mac OS X Server and the iPhone OS: support for joining Active Directory networks, cross-platform client management, access to Windows and Unix shared files and printers, and access to Microsoft Exchange servers.

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