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Because some people can never be wrong in public enough to shut them up once and for all, here’s what I expect to hear when Steve Jobs takes the stage at the Worldwide Developers Conference in just a few short hours. These predictions are complete guesses, and not particularly educated ones at that. They are not based on information from Apple insiders, outsiders, or anyone who has ever driven by Apple headquarters. In fact, to ensure the purity of these predictions, I haven’t read any Apple news for the last six months just to keep my mind clear—which has made it more difficult than you might imagine to work for Macworld .

But hey, if we can get a couple of Steve Jobs keynote predictions out of it, then that’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make. So in my best Amazing Criswell impersonation, I predict

Apple will preview Leopard: OK, you don’t need any sort of crystal ball to see that one coming. So let’s throw in some more specific—and no doubt wildly inaccurate—predictions about OS X 10.5.

It’ll run on both PowerPC- and Intel-based machines, I think. (Of course, I climbed out on that particular limb already, didn’t I?) Apple will just offer a preview during this keynote, but will promise a full release sometime in 2007—let’s says spring 2007 just to add a mild degree of specificity. The bulk of what gets discussed will be enhancements to existing features—Mail, Safari, Spotlight and the like—though there will also be significant attention paid to Boot Camp integration, allowing Intel-based Mac owners to boot into Windows if they so choose. On that note, I think there might be some focus on Mac gaming—how dual-booting will benefit it and maybe some other under-the-hood improvements targeted at game developers. Call it an inkling, if you will, or a supposition. Or wishful thinking.

Apple will unveil the successor to the Power Mac: Again, this should not exactly take you by surprise if you’ve been reading the papers. I expect the processor speed of the Intel chip powering these theoretical desktops to be close to that of their PowerPC counterparts—that would be keeping with precedent set by other Intel-based hardware introductions. I also expect these new machines to easily top the PowerPC-based models when it comes to running Universal Binary apps.

But that’s not the only hardware announcement I’m predicting.

Apple will announce an upgrade to the MacBook Pro lines: That Core Duo 2 announcement from Intel a couple weeks back included five processors designed specifically for laptops. Those chips promise performance gains while maintaining battery life, which seems in line with the goals Steve Jobs set out last year when he announced the switch to Intel chips. It may strike some people as too soon for a processor upgrade, but keep in mind that the first MacBooks have been on the market for nearly eight months now and that the crowd at a developer conference is likely to cheer such an upgrade.

Steve Jobs will be joined on the stage by a slew of Mac developers, singing of the joys of developing apps that run natively on Intel chips: And one of those developers will be a big-time company who will announce a concrete release date for the Universal Binary version of one of its flagship apps.

So who’s it going to be? Adobe? Microsoft? Hey, I don’t have any problem being wrong in public, but I do like to try and avoid being ridiculously wrong.

You won’t hear a word about such juicy rumors like an Apple-branded mobile phone or a movie rental service through iTunes: The first rumor, I just consider to be an urban legend, not unlike the Yeti or affordable housing in the Bay Area. As for the second, I’ve already enumerated the reasons this one ain’t happening, but just to sum up, such a service is a consumer-oriented offering. And WWDC, to paraphrase a great man is all about developers, developers, developers.

Anyhow, that’s what I expect to see at this morning’s keynote. Feel free to point out how wrong I am in the comments thread below. And be sure to check back at 10 a.m. Pacific when Macworld begins its live coverage of the Developers Conference keynote. Also, if you haven’t submitted a question for our Wednesday, August 9 live chat, there’s no time like the present.

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