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Apple's blow to Microsoft may be glancing

The Mac maker throws some more verbal shots at Vista, but it fails to deliver the sub-$800 punch that could have really left Redmond hurting.

Apple made a few jabs at Microsoft during Tuesday's notebook event, but if I were a Windows executive today, I'd probably be breathing a sigh of relief.

Although Apple did revamp its entire Mac product line on Tuesday, it didn't hit the $800 price point that the rumor mills had projected.

The new laptops seem nice enough, and they might be enough to keep Apple on a roll, but Apple didn't take the Mac into any new segments of the market.

Clearly fearing that Apple was on the brink of such a price move, Microsoft launched a pre-emptive attack on Monday, with Vice President Brad Brooks going into great detail about an "Apple tax" ahead of what even he thought would be the introduction of significantly cheaper Macs.

It seemed at the outset of today's event as if that might be where Apple was headed. In his introductory comments, Apple executive Tim Cook rattled off several reasons Macs are doing well. One of those things on the list, he said, is something Apple has nothing to do with--Windows Vista.

But in the end, Apple's attack was limited to those words and the company's usual arsenal of elegant but pricey machines. Apple has made some significant advances, to be sure, but it looks as if this year's Mac-vs.-PC battle will remain at the high end of the market rather than dropping down to the mainstream.

Nonetheless, it is interesting to watch the war of words heat up. For years now, Vista has been a popular punching bag for Apple, and Tuesday's event was no exception.

Microsoft, though, is only belatedly trying to defend itself, with the most visible effort being its "I'm a PC" advertisements.

The reasons for Microsoft's moves are clear. First of all, it had let itself be completely defined by a competitor. Secondly, Apple's market share is significant and growing. Although its share of the global market is only a few percentage points, its share of the dollars spent on PCs, particularly in the United States, is far more significant.

For complete coverage of the Apple notebook news, see "Apple polishes up its MacBook line."