RealTime IT News

iMac Grabs Spotlight at MacWorld

Apple's interim CEO Steve Jobs surprised the crowd at MacWorld Expo by showing up in person, not via satellite as was originally planned. And he brought news that seemed to hearten the crowd of Macintosh faithful.

The undisputed star of the show was Apple's iMac, the eye-catching translucent desktop model set for release on Aug. 15. Jobs said the machines will ship with 56 Kbps modems, not the 33.6 Kbps modems that had been originally planned.

It was at this same conference in Boston a year ago that Jobs first announced what some Mac users likened to a pact with the devil, a software development alliance with Microsoft. That feeling evident today, but to a lesser degree as Jobs was hissed as he mentioned Apple's plans to bundle Internet Explorer and Outlook Express with the iMac.

"I use IE and I like it," Jobs said. "You can make your own choice, and choice is good don't you think?" he said as the crowd applauded. Indeed, two other presenters, Apple vice president for worldwide marketing Phil Schiller and Richard Wolpert, president of Disney Online, mentioned IE as their "browser of choice" during their segments of the keynote address.

Microsoft, seemingly determined to win more friends among the Mac community, did not come to the show empty handed. Ben Waldman, Microsoft general manager for Macintosh products, announced a Mac-specific upgrade to its browser, Internet Explorer 4.01 that will be bundled with the iMac.

New features include Web archiving, the ability to save the content of a Web site for offline browsing. A new tabs feature will allow users to keep the results of their Web searches on sites like Yahoo, Excite, Lycos and Infoseek, in their browsing window simultaneously with the content of the pages they select from the results.

Schiller introduced a new Internet search feature, code-named Sherlock that will be included with the release of Mac OS 8.5 set for later this year. Enhancing the current "find file" menu item, the new feature will search on the Internet via several search engines, including Alta Vista, Excite, HotBot and Lycos as well as Apple's Tech Info Library.

At the show, Disney's Wolpert announced that its Blast Online will be available to Mac users for free during a preview. Previously, Mac users could not access the service that is geared for children. Once the test ends, at a date to be announced, the subscription service will be offered at the rate of $6 a month or $40 a year.