What Apple's Got On Tap At Macworld Expo

Highlights of Macworld Conference & Expo, beginning Jan. 14 in San Francisco, will include a Steve Jobs keynote, the debut of Office 2008 for Mac, and a show floor packed with hot virtualization technology and indie-developed apps.
The Omni Group is also upgrading OmniGraffle, diagramming software that's similar to Microsoft Visio for Windows. The new version will allow users to import Visio files and stencils. It features an improved user interface, with links to a third-party Web site for Visio stencils. It will be priced starting at $99.

Bare Bones Software expects the new version of TextWrangler to be available Tuesday. The Omni Group expects the next version of OmniGraffle to be out of beta next month, priced starting at $99.

On The Show Floor

This is Macworld's 23rd year, and conference organizers IDG World Expo expect it to be the biggest ever (yeah, conference organizers always say it's going to be the biggest ever). The conference will have 50,000 attendees, 480 exhibitors, up from 289 exhibitors and just over 40,000 attendees last year, said Paul Kent, senior VP and GM of Macworld.

Despite Apple's recent initiatives in audio, video, and that cell-phone thingie everyone was going on about last year, the show is still Mac-dominated. About 85% of the exhibitors are displaying Mac gear. "This year, the iPhone and iPod are really a minority of what's happening on the floor," Kent said. "Really, it's about Mac OS X and products."

Special events and feature exhibitions include:

The Digital Photography Experience will dispense instruction on how to take, make, and share better pictures.

The Podcast Studio will offer advice on how to plan and host a podcast and provide production techniques, as well as how-tos covering animation, camera work, and more. Also, several podcasts will be going out live from the studio, including This Week In Tech, This Week In Media, and Diggnation.

The Macworld Learning Center will provide basics on setting up a Wi-Fi network, blogging, photography, and advice for newbies and switchers.

The Berklee Dream Studio: Making Music With the Mac will be a music studio filled with Mac hardware and software to help users make Mac beautiful sounds. It includes the John Lennon Educational Tour Bus, a mobile recording and multimedia studio.

Looking to find a way to lighten your pockets? That's often a problem at trade shows, where management sometimes has a policy against retail selling on the show floor. Of course, you'll have to spend your next mortgage payment to get yourself a hot dog or bottle of water, but what if you want to buy computer hardware or software? That's not a problem at Macworld, where the show management is happy to help relieve you of any money you might have lying around. Best Buy will be the official merchandiser at the show, selling the gear you find when walking the floor.

In the past year, Apple and software vendors came out with a lot of major new applications and upgrades to existing apps, including iLife, Microsoft Office, Filemaker, and Adobe Creative Suite. The conference will feature tutorials in all of those applications.

The MacIT Conference is designed to provide tips and education for IT managers deploying Macs in the enterprise, including classes in Mac OS X administration, security, and scripting.

One of the presentations I'm personally most looking forward to seeing is by productivity guru Merlin Mann. I've been reading Merlin's blog, 43 Folders, and enjoying his tips on how to be more productive, both with a Mac and in work and life in general. From what I've seen in his videos, he's an entertaining and informative speaker, with a dry, self-deprecating wit. He's doing a session Thursday called "Living With Data," about managing information overload.

I tried e-mailing Merlin a couple of times to get an interview, but he hasn't responded -- I guess that's an important productivity tip: Ignore e-mails from sleazy journos looking to coattail on your Internet fame. Good thinking, Merlin.

And Dr. Bill Wiecking of the Hawaii Preparatory Academy will do a presentation on "teleworking," aka telecommuting -- working effectively from a home office or while traveling.

Macworld is the Super Bowl, Mardi Gras, and World Series for Apple, its customers, and business partners. This year's highlights will include virtualization, the shipment of Microsoft Office 2008 for the Mac, independent software developers showing off their wares, and a variety of events in the convention center. I'm looking forward to it eagerly -- and also looking forward to getting home and soaking my aching feet.

Editor's Choice
Brandon Taylor, Digital Editorial Program Manager
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek
Terry White, Associate Chief Analyst, Omdia
John Abel, Technical Director, Google Cloud
Richard Pallardy, Freelance Writer
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek
Pam Baker, Contributing Writer