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Apple Mac Pro Update Panned

Apple's first Mac Pro update in two years disappoints users hoping for more at Monday's WWDC. But this may not be the end of the line for the Mac Pro.

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Apple quietly updated its long-neglected Mac Pro desktop workstation on Monday, but Mac developers and Apple customers say they're wondering why Apple went to the trouble of releasing such an underwhelming revision.

The new Mac Pro comes with either one 3.2-GHz quad-core Intel Xeon W3565 processor or two 2.4-GHz 6-core Intel Xeon E5645 processors, but not Intel's 8-core Xeon E5 chips, announced in March 2012. It also does not support USB 3.0 or Thunderbolt, present in the refreshed Apple MacBook Air and MacBook Pro models announced Monday. And its default graphics card, the ATI Radeon 5770, was first released in October 2009.

Developer Marco Arment, who helped build Tumblr and created Instapaper, slammed the update as pathetic.

"I bet this is the last Mac Pro," Arment wrote in a blog post Monday. "If you wanted to kill a product line, an 'update' like today's would be a good way to clear out parts and keep selling to a few desperate buyers for a bit longer without any real investment."

[ For more details, read Apple Ignores Loyal Mac Pro Customers. ]

Posting to Twitter, Paul Haddad, Mac developer and creator of Tapbots, called the update "super disappointing" and suggested that Apple "might as well not have bothered."

The disappointment is registering in Apple's support forum too, with one person calling the new Mac Pro "insulting."

The reaction is much the same in comments posted to news articles about the Mac Pro revision, ranging from bewilderment to ridicule. Over at the Facebook group titled We Want a New Macpro, many group members opined in comments that the Mac Pro is dead.

Prior to Monday's announcement, Mac Pro users had been fretting about the fact that Apple had not updated the Mac Pro for two years. Many expressed doubts about Apple's continued commitment to the creative professional community, the graphic designers, filmmakers, and other professional users of computationally intensive applications who remained loyal to Apple during its lean years more than a decade ago.

Apple's unimpressive Mac Pro update appears to have convinced many Apple customers that the company no longer cares about their business.

But Apple may not be done with the Mac Pro yet. Facebook user Stephen Tanner said that he emailed Apple CEO Tim Cook to voice his displeasure with the update and claims to have received a response, which he assumes is a public relations boilerplate, despite being attributed to Cook.

According to Tanner, Cook replied, "Pro customers like you are very important to Apple." The reply goes on to note, "Although the Mac Pro has been selling to a smaller audience (as you noted) , financial projections have never been the filter for determining our product pipeline. So stay tuned. We are planning a new Mac Pro for later next year."

Such openness about future product plans from Apple runs contrary to Apple's tradition of secrecy, so some skepticism is certainly warranted. We've reached out to Tanner via Facebook and to Apple via email to see if we can confirm the authenticity of this message.

However, writing for the New York Times, David Pogue reports that an Apple executive assured him "that new models and new designs [for the iMac and Mac Pro] are under way, probably for release in 2013."

So if you don't like this year's Mac Pro model, check back next year.

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User Rank: Apprentice
6/27/2012 | 4:18:29 AM
re: Apple Mac Pro Update Panned
I have a G5 (MAC PRO) and indeed it is getting long in the hair.
I will resist getting the next generation because APPLE has decided not to support the classic environment. My business needs it as there is there is not a decent word processor anywhere in MAC land (please Word is not a decent Word Processor). SO I guess I will keep the G5 until it dies.
User Rank: Apprentice
6/13/2012 | 5:07:12 PM
re: Apple Mac Pro Update Panned
Based on what I've read in the press and via the web my hunch is that Apple is not abandoning the Mac Pro. If it were doing so I don't believe that the current upgrade would have been released at all. Apple is not shy about pulling the plug when it wants to.

The Xeon E5 came out in March which means that full specs and samples were likely available only 6-9 months ago. That's not a long time to completely re-design the Mac Pro to Apple's standards.

My guess is that-partly in response to constant nagging from the technical press and from users-they had set WWDC '12 as a hard stop for delivering some kind of upgrade to the Mac Pro. Knowing that they couldn't deliver the next generation knockout by 6/12, they threw us a sop instead.

The processors are fine, actually, under the circumstances. In fact this looks to be a flexible, elegant powerhouse that will be a great purchase for some users.

What's rankles is that Apple failed to upgrade the outputs and the graphics card; this could have been done without a full re-design and for many users these are the things that will make the new box feel obsolete even after they've maxed out storage and memory.

The net effect is that it feels as though Apple is deliberately giving us an interim box that we'll want to upgrade again next year. That strategy can work for an iPhone but for a box costing 10 times as much-well, not so much.

If Apple had offered a high level overview of the plans for the next Mac Pro, users would be able to make an educated choice. Alas it's not in Apple's DNA to do that; it'll take more than a twelvemonth for Mr. Job's worldview to wear off in this respect.

Maybe the best way to bust through the cloud of secrecy is for existing users to let Apple know that they are bypassing this upgrade for now and are instead looking forward to hearing whether there is a machine in the works with tomorrow's components instead of yesterday's. That seems to be what's happening organically. Let's hope it works.
User Rank: Apprentice
6/12/2012 | 8:13:42 PM
re: Apple Mac Pro Update Panned
Wait until next year? only New Yorkers and Californians would believe that line. they've been saying the same thing about the Chicago Cubs for how long now? Good luck with that. @strat09...reading skills would be useful or does that skill have to be blessed by Cupertino as well.
User Rank: Apprentice
6/12/2012 | 6:04:30 PM
re: Apple Mac Pro Update Panned
.... did you actually even read the article or do you work for Apple??? This article is about the MAC PRO... not the laptop. Good lord, learn to read an article before commenting.
User Rank: Apprentice
6/12/2012 | 3:31:13 PM
re: Apple Mac Pro Update Panned
This article is inaccurate and negative towards apple, they updated the macbook pro with the essential, and they carry the new ivy bridge processors. People don't need to know this, but those processors carry a built in graphics card, so the specs look less than you think, when in fact, it isn't. The screen sizes were made that way because they carry so many pixels that a 17 inch model is not needed anymore, and I'm sure people don't need to carry such a big device. And they carry ssd's which is flash memory. It is the best update yet. This article doesn't even mention either that the newest addition, the next generation macbook pro has a retina display, and a 768gb top hard drive option. This laptop is running better specs of the 2011 iMac. 16gb of ram, processor vram and 1gb from the nvidia gpu. And it is portable! what more do they want. It beats having an pc any day and if they don't like the update, then they should go buy something else.
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