Keynote Intermezzo

I ended up following the MSWF 2005 keynote via IRC and the Web near close of business today (my desk was surrounded by colleagues wanting to follow the event, which made it a trifle difficult to work once people got wind of the ).

Since it might take a day or so for the keynote video to be up (it will likely be posted here and in the homepage), I jotted down a few notes on what I think of it so far.

Realistically, in the grand scheme of things, this is just one more set of product launches. But it was a particularly fun one, and I bet that pundits will be discussing this one for months to come, raving about how it "marks an important turning point for " and suchlike drivel.

For me, it sure beats watching TV. Steve Jobs is one heck of a showman no matter what he presents, and I will be grabbing the video as soon as I can in the highest resolution possible.

But here's my take on the new launches (or lack thereof):

, Where Arst Thou?

Lots of people will be ranting on about the "not being there", or will completely miss the fact that the Motorola "integration" is simply access to the filesystem and a skinned media player.

I see it as a way for Motorola to rekindle interest in their handsets (which are, quite honestly, some of the least intuitive devices I have ever used) and try to increase their market share. 's closeness to them helped a lot, I'm sure, but I really hope that other phone manufacturers (like SonyEricsson, for instance) get into the game.

And don't forget we still have to see whether or not carriers will bundle these handsets with their service offerings.

Nobody Looks When Shuffling

Even more will complain about the iPod Shuffle's lack of a display and the fact that it's a trifle more expensive than, say, a MuVo (I happened to buy a1GB one to give as a present, and it was eerily like the Shuffle - except that it had a display and ran off a single AAA battery).

I can't begin to imagine how many of these will sell, despite the negative hype. Even before they lower prices oh, say... three months from now.

Of course, the Ogg Vorbis and WMA crowd will rant on regardless. Most people won't care and fill it to the brim with .

The Cube, Reborn

As to the Mac mini, people are drooling all over it. Cringely must be especially pleased. Steve did it.

Like I it is not going to win any performance awards, but it will be more than enough for the vast majority of people. And a lot of power users will like to own a small second machine.

Plus, it puts an end to all that whimpering about the Cube's demise. Now you can stack three of these and cluster them into a real Cube.

Plus, it looks much better than your average Mini-ITX box. And is just as expandable.

Heck, I'm seriously considering getting one to replace this server - it's an inglorious purpose, I know, but would save me a lot of hassle. And the packaging is glorious - it's the sort of thing that you can see yourself carrying out of a store, and that is one of the cleverest pieces of marketing around it.

The peanut gallery will rant on and on about and the new and the fact that it makes a less effective Office suite than 's own. Or, if you're in the camp, than OpenOffice.

Let's get real here for a moment. OpenOffice on the is a joke. One that is being valiantly ported to and which badly needs help, since it has been repeatedly delayed and is not one of the parent project's priorities.

But the bottom line is that it is nothing that you could (with a clear conscience) set up on a relative's . Not even , which is better, but still bordering on usable - and by usable I mean not only a native look, but also stability and speed.

steps in at a time where AppleWorks was due for a replacement, and provides what home users need the most: a capable word processor. Come on, isn't exactly an application for the home - or, in parlance, it's not a fun application.

Yet. My bet is that we'll see something along those lines sometime in the future. The timing will be highly dependent on when feels like it's on good enough terms with , and even then it won't be anything like . Or, by that matter, Access (which is conspicuously absent from for the , but also not something you'd use at home).

Of course sticks out like a sore thumb. It might have educational uses at home that I'm not aware of after years of doing presentations (which, as anyone dealing with cognitive psychology will tell you, are simply the worst possible thing you can do to present anything). Or it might be just the right thing for teachers. Nevertheless, the presenter view spins rings around 's, from what I can see.


Last, but not least, the most understated upgrade of will probably turn out to be the biggest thing. I could not care less about the upgrade, but the QuickTime 7 upgrade that underpins some of and 's features will make video look much better and at smaller sizes.

Of course I'm more interested in the /mobile side of things (and things like streaming media creation and -to-iChat videocalls are going to be one of the things that I will be investigating closely when comes out), but like I , 2005 is going to be the year of H.264 - and video is going to be even more popular.

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