Macworld: Where did the Mac mini go?

By Rich Rosen
January 6, 2009

Everyone seemed to be anticipating that a new version of the Mac mini would be announced at the Macworld conference today. But then... nothing.

If the flurry of blogospheric activity was any indication, it was a near certainty that Apple's announcements at Macworld today (delivered by Phil Schiller rather than that other guy with the turtleneck) would include a new revamped version of the Mac mini. The signs were all there: no updates to the unit for a rather long time, hints dropped in leaked Apple documents about a new design that flaunted major hardware enhancements including upgraded video capabilities, talk about media server functionality, even the usual "look, here's the new design" teases (almost always wrong, but a sign of things to come nonetheless).

Even macminicolo.net, a web hosting company specializing in colocated Mac mini's, posted its own "state of the Mac mini" address, confirming (supposedly) most of what we have been hearing.

But the only certainty when it comes to Apple announcements is that there is no certainty, and that predictions are rarely close to the mark.

In the "uncertainty is a certainty" department, Apple came through--in the sense that all the anticipation about a new Mac mini seems to have been for naught. To me, that's a major disappointment. The mini, originally marketed as a way to get people with older Windows PCs to reuse their old KVM peripherals (keyboards, video monitors, and mice) on a new lower-cost Macintosh, is a powerhouse in so many ways. Even without KVM peripherals attached, the mini makes a kickass headless server (if you set things up right--more on this later), providing file sharing, printer sharing, remote access (SSH and/or VNC), and all the other services you get with a Mac. And you get all this with a real general-purpose computer under the hood, not a "network-attached storage" limited-access gizmo or (heaven forfend) a clunky Windows box. (If it isn't obvious, I'm a big Mac mini fan, and I use one as my home server.)

Still, at least they didn't announce that the mini was being put out to pasture. The Mac mini is apparently "not dead yet", but sadly, it's not "getting better" either.


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