I was expecting today's Apple keynote to be all about new iPads, but the company starting things off with some Mac-related announcements.
The first of those was that OS X Mavericks, Apple's latest desktop operating system, is coming out today as a free update. Apple said Mac users will be able to upgrade free of charge even from years-old versions of OS X—a big change from the company's previous strategy of charging $29 for major OS X releases. The only requirement: you'll need at least a 2007 iMac, a 2007 MacBook Pro, a 2008 MacBook Air, a 2008 MacBook, a 2008 Mac Pro, or a 2009 Mac mini.
After pimping OS X Mavericks, Apple moved right along to its Retina-infused MacBook Pro lineup, which now features upgraded hardware and lowered pricing.
The revamped 13" MacBook Pro with Retina display starts at $1,299 (down from $1,499 for the previous-gen model), and it packs a 2.4GHz Haswell-based Core i5 processor, 4GB of RAM, Intel Iris Graphics, and 128GB of PCIe solid-state storage. Other perks include 802.11ac and Thunderbolt 2 connectivity, a nine-hour battery life rating (up from seven hours for the previous model), and a thinner, lighter chassis that weighs 3.46 lbs and is just 0.71" thick.
The 15" MacBook Pro with Retina display now starts at $1,999 (down from $2,199) with a 2GHz quad-core "Crystalwell" processor, 8GB of RAM, Intel Iris Pro graphics, 256GB of PCIe solid-state storage, Thunderbolt 2, and 802.11ac Wi-Fi. The battery run time has gone up from seven to eight hours. Folks who aren't happy with integrated graphics have the option to upgrade to a discrete GeForce GT 750M GPU with 2GB of dedicated memory, as well.
Apple says both systems are shipping today.
In December, the company will follow up with the release of its new, cylindrical Mac Pro. That system will start at $2,999 with a 3.7GHz quad-core Xeon, 12GB of RAM, dual AMD FirePro D300 2GB graphics processors, and 256GB of PCIe solid-state storage. Pricier configurations will be available with up to 12 processor cores, up to 64GB of DDR3-1866 ECC memory, faster FirePro GPUs, and up to 1TB of solid-state storage.
The new, cylindrical Mac Pro is substantially more compact than its predecessor, at just 9.9" tall and 6.6" wide. It's supposed to be far quieter and more power-efficient, too. The machine purportedly draws only 43W and generates only 12 dB of noise at idle. It was said during the keynote that Apple's designers tried to make new Mac Pro no louder than the Mac mini, the company's cheapest, slowest desktop.
Also, in a change of pace from Apple's heavy reliance on Chinese manufacturing, the new Mac Pro will be assembled in the United States. You can find out more about the system here.