Apple's WWDC: What's coming, what's rumored

Will next week's event bring more than a preview of the next Mac OS X?

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New Xserves

Apple has been very quiet on its plans to replace the Xserve G5 with an equivalent Intel-based server product. This is no doubt partly because Apple has yet to announce an Intel version of Mac OS X Server. The result: WWDC may also see new server hardware announced. Unless Apple also announces a shipping Intel version of Mac OS X Server, shipping an Intel-based Xserve replacement immediately would not make much sense. My sense is that the Xserve may be the last piece of Apple's product line to go Intel.

Intel has announced that it's shipping a server version of the Core 2 Duo (called Woodcrest) that does support a dual-socket design (meaning two dual-core processors, the equivalent of a four-processor machine). Whether Apple will announce an Xserve replacement with this processor -- or wait until Intel releases its first quad-core processor designed for servers in the fourth quarter of the year -- remains to be seen. That said, it wouldn't make sense for Apple to release an Intel version of Mac OS X Server 10.4.x when it could focus all Intel server development and resources on an Intel or Universal version of Leopard Server. I suspect we won't see a replacement of the Xserve until around the time Intel expects to ship the quad-core processors.

iWork Spreadsheet

There have been rumors that Apple is readying a third component to its iWork suite, a spreadsheet tool that will be bundled with iWork '07 (no doubt to be released at MacWorld in January). A spreadsheet would be a logical addition to Keynote and Pages and would have to offer solid interoperability with Excel to be successful. Although some rumors indicate this will be unveiled next week, I wouldn't be surprised to see it held until MacWorld.

The Big One: Leopard

As I said, there's a lot speculation as to exactly what will be included in Leopard (or Leopard Server, for that matter). It's always difficult to separate rumors, wishful thinking and facts when discussing the future of Mac OS X.

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