6 Products To Watch At Macworld

While Macworld has traditionally been Apple's launching pad for its latest and greatest products (think last year's iPhone announcement), touted with great fanfare by the company's legendary and quixotic CEO Steve Jobs, scads of other vendors use the expo to launch their Mac-related products and demo them to the Mac faithful.

Here are a handful of products making their debut next week at Macworld, many of which, unlike the iPhone, are ripe for picking by the channel, along with Apple's latest hardware releases.

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.

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.

Mac users can register for a 30-day free trial to test out the software.

Apple announced its next-generation XServe server the week before Macworld, leaving speculators to wonder what the company had up its sleeve for Steve Jobs' big keynote on Jan. 15.

Apple's new Mac Pro, touted as the company's fastest Mac ever launched pre-show as well, although users would doubtless have been surprised if Apple had decided to use the week leading up to Macworld to launch their slowest Mac ever.