iTunes Overtakes RealPlayer Among Streaming Media Users · Jan 31, 06:09 AM

A new report from Websiteoptimization.com mentions how iTunes surpassed RealPlayer for the number of unique visitors during the middle of 2007. We file this under “Why Did It Take This Long”. With iPods being installed on so many PCs, iTunes is available to just as many users. Although it is nice that iTunes streaming media has growth, you can see from the numbers that stand alone streaming media player growth overall is fairly flat. It doesn’t take a genius to realize that the real streaming growth is on the web, and Flash is still king in that arena. We hate to kick Real Networks while they’re down and their stock can be bought for less than some of the items at Starbucks, but we have to wonder how they plan on staying relevant in the future.

— Joe Fahs

Mac OS X Server Virtualization Coming to a Computer Near You! · Jan 18, 07:09 AM

One of the big advantages of Apple’s move to Intel Processors for Macs is the availability of virtualization solutions allowing users to run multiple operating systems on the same computer. Granted, we have been doing this for a long time with products like Virtual PC, but the switch to Intel meant that operating systems could run without emulation, allowing software to run at near native speeds.

Microsoft has decided not to do much with Virtual PC for Mac, but both VMware and Parallels have done well with the desktop versions of their software. At this week’s MacWorld, both companies announced that their products would now operate with Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard Server.

To many, this is business as usual, but it does represent the first time Apple has changed its license to allow OS X to run in a virtual machine. Previously, you could only install virtual machines of other operating systems using VMware or Parallels, and the license is not available for Mac OS X 10.5 client, so the feature is disabled. With server, you can run multiple instances of Leopard (on Apple hardware, of course), which is often the best way to take advantage of processors with multiple cores. It is also essential for businesses who like the ability to test server software changes before deploying.

Apple surely hopes that its beefed up hardware will allow it to sell more XServes and RAID systems to the enterprise, but the most interesting part of this deal is the change to the license. VMware and Parallels can run OS X client just as well as server. Would Apple be willing to change their license a little bit more to allow OS X Client to run inside a virtual machine on non-Apple Hardware? It would open up the world of OS X to anybody who has Windows or Linux. We know that Apple’s margins are in the hardware, but as Apple’s market share continues to go up, it might be a good way to entice more Mac users into the fold. Apple can effectively allow OS X to run on generic PC Hardware, but never officially have to support it. That seems like a deal both sides can live with.

— Joe Fahs

Office 2008 for Mac Shipping, Or Is It? · Jan 18, 06:21 AM

Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac is one of the most highly anticipated pieces of software to be released this year. It is the first version of Office that brings native Intel Mac compatibility, and brings the file format in line with Microsoft Office 2007 for Windows. Notably missing from Office 2008 is VBA, which means many people who depend on macros within their documents will be left to find another solution.

A recent note at TUAW says that Office 2008 for Mac will be available for “Enterprise” starting Feb. 1. They don’t describe what is in the Enterprise version other than some language translations and end with the caveat that your mileage may vary in terms of licensing, but we have been hearing some other things.

Our sources tell us that while you may need to wait localization, most licensees will be able to install the software right away; depending on how long it takes their provider to get it to them. Most companies and educational institutions are not going to pay extra for physical media that they will be receiving in the mail or by download for free after a short wait. Since many larger companies need to test software before deploying it, they will wait until their next software upgrade cycle to install anyway. Depending on how much your campus/business has allocated for computing support that could be a few days or several months.

If you are an individual looking for an educational discount, it might already be available at your campus book store, depending on how big your school is and how tight they are with Redmond.

— Joe Fahs

Microsoft Releases New Office File Converter for Mac · Dec 21, 07:28 AM

While the world awaits the full release of Office 2008 which will finally bring Intel-native performance and file format compatibility with Office 2007, Microsoft quietly released a new beta of their Open XML File Format Converter for the Mac. The new version expires on December 31, 2008. It’s still in beta and doesn’t promise perfect results, but should help people who need to work on .docx and similar files that they might receive.

Our results have been pretty good with the original beta (it’s still easier to have the other party save their file in the older format), but the most limiting thing about this release is that it requires 10.4.8, leaving many people with Macs still chugging along with 10.3 looking for another option.

— Joe Fahs

10.5.2 Update Brings Bug Fixes, Interface Updates · Dec 20, 06:49 AM

Mac OS X 10.5, known as Leopard to some, and “unholy piece of crap interface experiment” to others was released less than three months ago, but is already getting its second update. AppleInsider reports that recent seeds asked developers to test “iCal, iChat, Mail, Parental Controls, Quick Look, Rosetta, Safari, Time Machine, and Airport”. For those of you that have beta-tested Apple OS releases before (i.e. installed it before the first two bug fixes were available), you know this is par for the course.

A more interesting note comes from a source at Macenstein which reports that Stacks feature will be getting a number of interface improvements, most noticeably adding list view, but also providing an option to display your stack as icon, making it much easier to tell what your stack is all about in the first place. Now if they would only do something more about that damned dock.

— Joe Fahs