Daniel Eran Dilger
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Posts from — January 2008

Parallels aims to virtualize Leopard Server and help Apple sell Xserves

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Daniel Eran Dilger
Parallels, maker of the popular Parallels Workstation software that enables Intel Mac users to run Windows or Linux within a virtualized environment, introduced its new Parallels Server at Macworld. The new product, intended to enter beta in the next couple months, is designed to virtualize and manage multiple server operating systems on any Intel-compatible hardware.

When running on Apple’s Xserve or other Intel-based Macs, Parallels Server also allows users to virtualize Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard Server. That feature required a change to Apple’s license agreement for Server, which formerly required that the software could only be run on a single system and only on Mac hardware. Apple relaxed the limitations to enable Parallels to develop the new server virtualization software. Leopard Server still requires that users acquire a license for each instance of Leopard Server running, and further requires that Leopard Server run only on Apple branded hardware.

Why Virtualize?
While most desktop users are familiar with the benefits of running Windows software on the Mac desktop, the Parallels Server product addresses an entirely different market. Virtualization in a server environment is typically used to test multiple instances of the same setup with a single changed variable. For example, a IT department could run multiple virtualized copies of Leopard Server, each with a different selection of System Updates, patches, or alternative configurations, in order to test for compatibility problems or conflicts. This can already be done by simply throwing hardware at the problem, but virtualization allows all of the different systems to run in parallel on the same hardware, dramatically saving the amount of hardware required to test different configurations.

The other obvious benefit offered by Parallels Server is the capacity to run multiple, different Server operating systems on the same hardware. This is of particular interest to Apple, which is clearly excited by the prospect of selling its Xserve hardware to IT shops that need to run a combination of Windows, Linux, Mac OS X Server, and other server operating systems.

Continues: AppleInsider | Parallels aims to virtualize Leopard Server and help sell Xserves

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January 17, 2008   2 Comments

First Look: Apple’s new MacBook Air

Daniel Eran Dilger
After hoisting teaser Macworld Expo banners of “something in the air,” it seemed likely that the slogan would be an allusion to wireless networking. Instead, Steve Jobs exhaled the MacBook Air, a new ultra light laptop widely rumored in advance to be the star of the show.

Echoing the drama of the iPhone presented last year in a glass capsule, Apple suspended a series of MacBook Air units on a cable stretching from the floor to the ceiling at the show.

Apple security first reprimanded anyone touching the models, but by the end of the day people were casually grabbing and commonly spinning the units. If handling the merchandise is any prediction of sales, the MacBook Air should blow off the shelves in gale force winds. The constant, enraptured pawing made it nearly impossible to capture any shots of the new laptops.

Continues: AppleInsider | First Look: Apple’s new MacBook Air (with photos and video)

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January 17, 2008   23 Comments

First Look: Time Capsule, AirPort, and Time Machine

Daniel Eran Dilger
Time Capsule pairs the existing AirPort Extreme with a half or full terabyte hard drive to serve as a backup appliance for Leopard machines running Time Machine, in addition to acting as a simple file and print server. It is offered for both Mac and Windows users, although Windows PCs (or Macs not running Leopard) won’t have Time Machine and therefore will access it only as a regular file and print server.

At last year’s Macworld Expo, Apple released its first version of the new AirPort Extreme in a slim square box rather than the UFO shape of previous AirPort base stations. In addition to the new form factor, the new version also added support for 802.11n, a considerably faster new version of WiFi that also achieves much greater wireless reach.

Even for those who primarily use an AirPort only to distribute their relatively slow ~1.5 MB Internet connection, the MIMO antenna technology used by the wireless n standard means that the 2007 AirPort Extreme can deliver a more reliable signal over a much larger area. Apple also added a wireless USB hard disk sharing feature to make effective use of the new speed jump.

When AppleInsider reviewed the AirPort Extreme last year in An in-depth review of Apple’s 802.11n AirPort Extreme Base Station, the biggest complaint was the lack of Gigabit Ethernet LAN ports. The use of 10/100 Fast Ethernet throttled the unit’s capacity to act as a single box router, switch, file and print server, and wireless access point for small business and home users. Apple quietly rectified that limitation later the year with an AirPort Extreme update providing Gigabit Ethernet.

Continues: AppleInsider | First Look: Time Capsule, AirPort, and Time Machine

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January 16, 2008   5 Comments

San Francisco Examiner Throws Me On the Cover

Daniel Eran Dilger
While getting set up for Macworld Expo at Moscone Center on Monday, I found a couch to crash into while trying to recover from an ugly cold. An Examiner photographer taking pictures of the venue approached to ask if it would be okay to take pictures in the area I was sitting. Feeling about 60%, I said that would be fine, not realizing that I had agreed to what turned into a glamor photo shoot that continued for about ten minutes while I awkwardly tried to pretend to type.

After some Codeine-assisted sleep, I headed toward Macworld in a fog of muddle. AT&T’s DSL service was out across much of the City, the Muni turnstile choked on my change, and then I found myself pictured on the front page of the Examiner under the headline “What will be the Apple of his eye?”

Steve Jobs wasn’t pictured until page 14.

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January 15, 2008   16 Comments

First Look: Apple TV 2.0 and iTunes Movie Rentals

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Daniel Eran Dilger
After suffering a year of media mockery and consumer indifference, Apple TV is poised to leverage its tight integration with iTunes to jump to the front of the line in living room media rentals. The best news: existing early adopters will gain all the new features via a software update without needing to replace or upgrade their existing hardware.

Steve Jobs originally floated Apple TV under the temporary moniker iTV back in the fall of 2006. In many ways, the device seemed to be a placeholder designed to inspire confidence in the company’s ability to maintain parity with competitors’ online movie sales. In parallel with the announcement, Apple upgraded iTunes video to “near DVD” quality, added Dolby Surround sound, and started into the movie sales business initially with only Disney as a partner.

After its official release following last years’ Macworld Expo, Jobs described Apple TV as a hobby and later as a ‘fourth leg’ that he hoped would help hold up the company’s platforms. Jobs told USA Today, “We have the Mac business, which is a $10 billion business, and music — our iPod and iTunes business — which is $10 billion. We hope the iPhone is the third leg on our chair, and maybe one day, Apple TV will be the fourth leg.”

While the iPhone quickly established itself as a powerful force in the mobile industry, Apple TV didn’t seem to get much attention at all. After appearing briefly in a TV ad showing a user moving iTunes video from his computer to an iPod to the living room TV, the device seemed to slip from Apple’s radar and spent the better part of 2007 collecting dust in conspicuously low trafficked corners of Apple’s otherwise busy retail stores.

Continues: AppleInsider | First Look: Apple TV 2.0 and iTunes Movie Rentals (photos, video)

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January 15, 2008   7 Comments

Something in the Air: Anticipating Macworld 2008

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Daniel Eran Dilger
New banners going up at Moscone Center in San Francisco present “There’s something in the air” as the tag line for the 2008 Macworld Expo, along with the rising Apple logo from last year. Here’s a look at what’s likely to be revealed, some promising ideas that are less likely to get delivered, and things that have no chance of happening.

AppleInsider | Apple hoists “There’s something in the air” Macworld banners
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January 12, 2008   37 Comments

CES: Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

Daniel Eran Dilger
The 2008 Consumer Electronics Show wrapped up Las Vegas after a week of conspicuously non-noteworthy events. The highlight of the show was Bill Gates’ formal announcement of retirement from Microsoft, along with marginally larger TVs and boxes that look suspiciously like the Apple TV that everyone loves to hate on. Along with Gates, CES appears ready to itself comfortably retire into inconsequential clouds of vapor.

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January 11, 2008   67 Comments

Will Apple Rescue Intel’s Silverthorne?

Daniel Eran Dilger
Sources familiar with Apple’s plans for 2008 report that the company is eyeing a new mobile processor from Intel code-named Silverthorne for use in a new generation of handheld devices. That has broad implications for Apple’s expanding role in consumer electronics, and holds out the prospect for the company to play the savior for a chip originally designed to power the second-generation of Microsoft’s beleaguered UMPCs.

AppleInsider | Will Apple Rescue Intel’s Silverthorne?

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January 2, 2008   7 Comments

John Dvorak Conceeds 2007 was a “Crappy Year” for Windows Enthusiasts

Daniel Eran Dilger
John Dvorak looked back at “another crappy career year for tech” and decided “Microsoft, Apple, and Google were to blame.” Being right on one count out of three isn’t a bad record for Dvorak, who typically gets everything wrong. Considering his self-flagellating lamentations of 2007 in PC Mag makes for a comical framework for looking back at a year that was particularly distressing to Windows Enthusiasts.

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January 2, 2008   48 Comments