Notes & Analysis Of Macworld CreativePro Feature Presentation From Greg Joswiak

As we got ready for todayis Keynote Feature Presentation, we couldnit help but miss some of the hijinks that were part of past events that kicked off Macworld. No waking up hours before the event to get in line. No being herded into the special Press area. No mad dash for the best seats once they let us in the hall. Then again, maybe we didnit miss it all that much after all, and there was still the Beach Boys music playing before and after the event.

This yearis event was hosted by Greg Joswiak, aka "Joz", Vice President of Hardware Product Marketing for Apple. He started off with some statistics about the Mac OS X market. At this point, there are about 7 million Mac OS X users, and over 6,000 native Mac applications. Mention of QuarkXPress 6, being one of the last and not least titles, drew a chuckle from the crowd, many of whom have patiently been waiting for Quark to release an OS X version of their flagship product.

Joz announced that PTC would be bringing Pro/CONCEPT their design and visualization tool, the Mac OS X. He then reviewed several Apple titles, including Shake 3, Final Cut Express, Final Cut Pro and DVD Studio Pro. DVD Studio will be receiving and update to version 2 in August. Plus, starting today until September 20, users of Adobe Premiere can trade in their software for either a free copy of Final Cut Express, or a US$500 rebate on the purchase of Final Cut Pro 4 (see our full coverage for more information). Also new for the show was the introduction of Soundtrack, a pro music production tool previously only available with Final Cut Pro 4. Soundtrack will be available in August for US$299.

Joz then outlined many of the major new features in Panther, aka Mac OS X 10.3, and demonstrated several of the new features. Many of these features were shown during Juneis WWDC keynote, but there were a couple of new details mentioned. For those who may have missed our WWDC coverage, hereis a run-down of everything.

Joz showed us Font Book, which is used to find, organize and manage your fonts. We also saw the new version of Preview, used to view PDF and other image files. Joz compared it to Acrobat 6.0 on Windows, and demonstrated that the new Preview is nearly 3 times faster at rendering, and 4 times faster at searching.

Thereis also a way to make any printer a "virtual" PostScript printer. By popular demand, the Desktop Printers of prior versions of Mac OS are being brought back to Panther.

AppleScript is getting a boost with a new editor, and the ability to script UI events, so you can control an application via AppleScript even if it isnit explicitly AppleScript aware. That represents a step up in Appleis commitment to AppleScript, and one that could really allow the technology to shine.

Then thereis Exposé, a great new way of helping clear off the desktop when thereis a document somewhere that you need to get at. By using a hotkey, all document windows are resized and visible. You can also clear everything away to access a document on the desktop.

Finally, there was Pixlet (a name derived by combining Pixar and Wavelet) a new video codec that can offer impressive playback of high-quality source video with 48 bits per pixel.

Next Joz showed us the New PowerMac G5. Apple claims that the G5 is the fastest personal computer in the world, and it seems that the benchmarks, which compare it to the fastest dual-processor Intel Xeon machine, show this to be true. The leap to a 2 GHz processor, with 3 GHz being promised in 12 months, should help the G5 stay on the top of the performance heap. Other nice performance boosters include independent 1 GHz buses (versus 167 MHz now) AGP 8X Pro for graphics, 133 MHz PCI-X expansion slots, serial ATA for hard drives. There will be support for both analog and digital audio input and output.

We were watching for Joz to directly address the controversy over Appleis claim that the Power Mac G5 was the fastest personal computer in the world. Though Joz did address the controversy in an interview with Slashdot last month, and Apple is still using the "fastest PC in the world" claim in marketing here are Macworld, there was little direct mention of this during the feature presentation. What he did do, however, was offer new and improved real-world benchmarks and demonstrations that show the power of the G5 in a very tangible way.

He started off with the Spec2000 benchmarks that originally got the Wintel world in an uproar. Jozis presentation specifically included a note that the settings were optimized for both platforms. That was not stressed at the WWDC keynote, nor was it emphasized in earlier iterations of information presented online.

In addition, Joz showed some After Affects benchmarks that showed an unoptimized version of After Affects being 39% faster than the Windows versions. Earlier this year, Adobe touted some benchmarks that showed After Affects as being faster than a dual-processor G4 in a Web page titled "PC Preferred." Without actually extending a proverbial middle finger to Adobe for posting that page, this was a direct response from Apple to that claim, and an acknowledgement that the G4 had begun to lag behind Intelis fastest offerings. At the same time, Apple is also clearly showing that the G5 has changed the ground rules, and put the Mac back on top of the speed game.

It was the real-world tests, however, where Apple really turned up the hype on the G5is power. For instance, in the Finding Nemo Photoshop bake-off that was run between a dual-Xeon and Appleis dual-processor 2 GHz Power Mac G5, Joz threw in a new twist. At the WWDC, both machines ran the exact same series of Photoshop actions. During todayis Macworld CreativePro demonstration, Joz had his PowerMac G5 doing two very processor-intensive tasks, while the PC only did one. In addition to the Photoshop actions, the Power Mac G5 was simultaneously converting an InDesign document into a PDF file. Even with the extra work, the PowerMac G5 toasted the dual Xeon PC.

Another difference occurred during the Logic/Cubase demonstration. At the WWDC, Steve Jobs showed a cross platform app called CuBase on a PC trying to play some music, while applying effects to the tracks on the fly. Contrary to some comments on the Internet, this is a processor-intensive task. On the Power Mac G5, Steve Jobs showed the same music with the same live effects running on Logic, a different application.

At todayis Macworld CreativePro presentation, Joz went to some effort to address any concerns that the performance discrepancy was due to a difference between CuBase and Logic. He did so by not only showing the Cubase/PC vs. Logic/G5 demonstration, but also showing the same music being played through an unoptimized version of CuBase on the G5. In both instances, the PowerMac G5 was able to get through the music without any trouble, while the dual-processor Xeon PC stuttered and stopped.

While we would have preferred to see the claims that Apple somehow cheated on the Spec2000 benchmarks, the reality, as we have repeatedly said, is that it is real-world uses that really matter in the speed contest. Benchmarks are fun, but can be manipulated. Appleis demonstration today further demonstrated that those real-world tests back up the companyis benchmark claims. In that regard, Jozis feature presentation was excellent.

For those keeping score at home, there was no "And One More Thing..." to wrap things up, but then again, this was Joz, not Jobs, even though Joz did a great job while doing Jobsis job.