Mac enthusiasts react to WWDC news

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Macintosh users are an easily excitable bunch. After the leak of G5 information late last week, excitement and anticipation regarding Steve Jobs' Monday keynote reached a fevered pitch, surpassing the buzz created when Apple previously blew its own horn for the iMac rollout, or iTunes' launch. At the Apple Store at Palisades Center, a crowd of eager Macintosh faithful made the mid-day trek to watch Steve Jobs deliver his message to the masses.

Not surprisingly after recent events, most of those in attendance who were questioned came "to see the G5."

"I want to see if they release the G5," said Chad Wollman, a high school student from nearby Clarkstown North. "I saw the Apple site a few minutes after the images went up."

Wollman described the specifications as "awesome. I currently have a [15-inch iMac]. I was a Switcher, so that was my first Mac."

Wollman though is looking forward to a new tower, because he feels his iMac isn't upgradable. "If I knew then what I knew now, I wouldn't have gotten it. I'd have gotten a tower."

Questioned prior to the keynote, Wollman, who said he'd buy a 2GHz Power Mac G5 right away, added that a lack of product announcement would leave him "disappointed." Pressed to explain what a high school student would do with a 2GHz G5, Wollman asked rhetorically "what couldn't I do?" A big Unreal Tournament player, Wollman wants something "where I don't have to lower the settings to play UT."

Judi Sohn has made the trip to the Palisades store from her home in Stanford, Conn. Sohn, who traveled to the store for the Jaguar release party, came because she too wants a new machine. "I've got money burning a hole in my pocket, I want to buy a G5," she said.

Sohn, like all the other thirty people gathered in the store's theater, spent pre-keynote time discussing the veracity of reports about the new system. "My first thought was 'MacHack is going on right now, congratulations guys.'"

"I'm more interested in a G5 than in 10.3. [Panther] is nice, but I've been ready to buy a new desktop for months," said Sohn. "If there's no new G5, I'm not sure I can hold out much longer. But if it's announced today, I'm not buying today."

Still, Sohn is looking forward to some features of 10.3. "[iChat AV] will be important. I've got a client in South Carolina I've never met. It'll be great for Grandma too. She wants to see pictures of the grandkids."

James Lauser, a student at Rensselaer Polytechnic, and another recent Mac switcher is more excited about 10.3 than about any new hardware. "I have no money so I'm not in the market," said Lauser.

Mac OS X is what drew Lauser to the Mac. "I love the OS," he said. "I want to see what's next. The rumor is that it's got BSD 5."

Lauser who was a Windows user from Microsoft's v2.0 release, was moved by the Mac OS. "At the time [of my switch] I was getting into UNIX. My school was very heavy into UNIX."

Lauser is set to buy 10.3 "as soon as it's available at my school's store. I saw pictures off the [Internet]. Exposé looks interesting, but I'm not sure what it does. I don't use iChat, I probably won't use [iChat AV], though."

Jobs' WWDC keynote was an obvious hit for attendees and caused quite a stir with those at the Apple Store at Palisades, as well. Cheers erupted several times. Fast User Switching drew the largest applause, while the new iChat features and announcement of iSight resulted in a rapid series of head turns as customers here looked to see if the new product was somehow visible in the store; to their dismay, it was not.

Growing silent during the demonstration of the developer tools, the crowd again got excited when Jobs announced "one more thing." By the time the first G5 specifications were announced, the assembled group (now up to around seventy or so people) became absolutely rabid. Clapping and cheering erupted in the room. All conversation stopped however as the specifications were announced, and many PowerBooks lids were propped open as people began to hop on iChat and share in the news.

Several people wandered out of the store during the testimonials and videos, but most remained to the end to see if Jobs had any more tricks up his sleeve. When the keynote ended, beaming faces were seen all around.

"It was very impressive," said Justin Lender who lives nearby the store and was equally impressed with both the OS and the new hardware. "I like that OS X has some more stuff to show. It's better than anything else, and now it shows it."

Lender finds himself using mostly portables, but today's keynote has him thinking. "That new desktop makes me want to pick up one, and I didn't think that was possible."

One spectator, John Amigo, traveled from Teaneck, NJ (about thirty minutes away) for the broadcast. "It's even more than we were hoping for," he said of the entire keynote presentation. "The OS has so many surprises. I'm looking forward to the changes in the OS. The new OS is fascinating."

Amigo too has found himself considering a new desktop even though he is a laptop user. "I'm probably going to wait to see when they put a G5 in a laptop, but I don't know. It's got me thinking."

And what of Judi Sohn, the Mac user with money burning a hole in her pocket? After Jobs' keynote speech she was found on the phone, discussing her upcoming purchase with her husband on her cell phone. "All I want to know is when the store will go up with the new machine so that I can place my order."

This story, "Mac enthusiasts react to WWDC news" was originally published by PCWorld.

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