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Macworld Expo ramblings: final wrap-up

Macworld Expo ramblings: final wrap-up

I went back to spend more time at the Apple pavilion Friday, browsing among the displays of G3 Macs, Mac OS 8.1 and the rest of the Apple line-up. They were giving a demo of QuickTime 3.0. It convinced me that this was indeed a major update. It adds several editing features that previously would have required a separate third-party application - such as transitions. And it does it in a way that does not require rebuilding the entire movie to add the effect - so it works very fast. It also adds support for newer compression techniques (especially the Sorenson Video Technology) that are compact enough to be near ideal for adding streaming audio or QuickTime videos to web sites. The runtime player, as always, will be free. The complete editing kit, due in February, will only be about $30. A new version of HyperCard (2.4) that works with the new QuickTime is also due in early 98. You can get a public beta version of it right now.

On other fronts, an Apple rep confirmed what rumors had already suggested: Apple is abandoning its AV monitors (the ones with built-in speakers and microphone). The ColorSync 17 and 20 inch monitors will only come in a non-AV configuration. Apple still has some of the AV monitors in stock, but when the supply runs out, that will be it. Similarly, the only Apple printers on display at the Expo were the LaserWriter 12/640 and the 8500.

Finally, Apple did have a demo of Rhapsody on its big stage, including showing off the Blue Box (which allows the Mac OS to run under Rhapsody). It was looking very good indeed. The main Rhapsody feature I saw demoed was how text effects and graphic formats could be applied to any application via the OS itself. You no longer need to have the application itself specifically written to support a particular text effect or import a particular graphic format. Cool.

A little more wandering took me by Software Architects, which was touting Disk Drive TuneUp, a utility formerly available only bundled with other products, but now a retail product. It is a disk formatter/accelerator that they claim can speed up your disk drive performance beyond what other competing utilities can do. They had a companion product for CD-ROM drives. IXMICRO as showing off its new ix3D line of graphic accelerator cards. And Wacom had PenTools 2.0 on display, pressure sensitive Photoshop plug-ins.

Another random thought about what was missing from this Expo: book publishers. Peachpit Press was there of course (happily for me, as they publish Sad Macs). But that was really about it. No more Hayden, Ventana, Addison-Wesley, or the others that used to show up. Even IDG Books (publishers of the Dummies series) was absent. I guess this just confirms the obvious: It is not the best of times for the Mac book market.

By this point in the day, the rain started coming down really hard and I decided this was an omen to call it quits for another Expo. Overall, despite the reduced size of the show, the mood remained upbeat throughout the week. Another good sign: there were more innovative and new products on display than at the past several Expos. And the MacWEEK Today for Friday, distributed at the show, had an article describing how most of the exhibitors were pleasantly surprised with the sales and traffic at their booths. Maybe the corner has been turned. By the July Macworld Expo in New York, Allegro and Rhapsody should be ready to take center stage. I am already looking forward to it.