What's On The Horizon At Macworld 2008

Dozens of other vendors use the expo to launch their Mac-related products and demo them to the Mac faithful, and the conference holds a wide variety of educational sessions for both business and home users.

On the third-party product side, for the first time in nearly four years Microsoft is taking the time to make life easier for Mac users who want to leverage Microsoft's productivity suite instead of Apple's.

Microsoft announced at Macworld 2007 that it would be retooling Office for Macs, and the software will finally hit the shelves on Jan. 15. The update includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Entourage and Messenger for the Mac. Some cool added features include the ability to save to PDF like with Office for Windows and a My Day widget for Entourage that can display calendar items and to-do lists.

Mac virtualization software maker SWSoft will have its latest offering, Parallels Server, on display at Macworld. The product is the first that allows virtualization of Apple's Mac OS Server 10.5 Leopard, and can run more than 50 different operating systems including different versions of Windows and Linux.

Sponsored post

Updates to Parallels Desktop, which has gained fame for allowing Mac users to run Windows on Intel-based Macs, a must for some users who need to access Windows-only applications, will also be demoed along with SWSoft's Virtuozzo 4.0 container-based virtualization product.

Ricoh will be showcasing its Hot Spot Printers which allow users to print wirelessly from their iPhones or other mobile devices.

WebEx, now owned by networking giant Cisco, is bringing out its WebEx PCNow on-demand remote-access service for desktops and wireless devices as it now works with Apple's Macs .

Apple will be giving demos of its lasts Mac Pros and XServe servers, updated with Intel's next generation quad-core processors. Apple announced its next-generation XServe server the week before Macworld.

Slide Show: 6 Products To See At Macworld

While consumer electronics are the focus of many, solution providers like Charles Edge, director of technology for Santa Monica, Calif.-based Apple solution provider 318, thinks the Mac Pro and the Xserve are the most compelling developments.

"I find it interesting that they released the new Mac Pros and the new Intel Xserves before the conference," said Edge. "That's not like them. They would normally release those things at the show. I think having eight cores the new Mac Pros and xServes will definitely lead to some interesting stuff."

For Edge, long-time Macworld attendee and speaker, resellers may find iTunes and iPhone updates interesting but it's the IT conference sessions that will help them when developing Mac-based solutions for customers.

"There's actually an entire community there that can support you and that you can interact with," he said. "That really does go above and beyond what a traditional certification course would give you, and it puts you in touch with all of the people in the community which is never a bad thing."