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Apple at FOSE 2005

By Lawrence I. Charters

FOSE (formerly the Federal Office Systems Expo) is, every year, the biggest computer show in the Washington, DC region. This April, like last year, the show was held in the immense Washington Convention Center. And this year, like last year, Apple had a large booth.

Aerial shot of Apple booth

For FOSE 2005, Apple’s large booth was positioned right at the bottom of one set of escalators, which coincidentally put them about as far away from the Microsoft booth as possible. And yes, that really is a Hummer in the booth to the right of Apple’s. The bright yellow Hummer looked just as out of place in person as it does in the photo. (Photo by Lawrence I. Charters, taken with a Canon PowerShot S-500 digital camera)

Given the target audience – the federal government and companies supporting the federal government – the focus was on high-end technology and high-end computing. The booth, built around two walls with computer systems on each side of the walls, showcased Power Mac G5s, Xserves, Xserve RAID, Xsan, HD video, cluster computing, QuickTime 7, and Tiger. Every machine was running either Mac OS X 10.4 or 10.4 Server. The fact that Apple was willing to allow the public to play, hands-on, with the still unreleased operating system was a major vote of confidence for their software.

QuickTime 7 on a Mac mini

Visitors to the Apple booth at FOSE 2005 could take in the breathtaking beauty of a 30-inch Apple Cinema display hooked up to a Mac mini (shown in the foreground) showing the wonders of Mac OS X 10.4 and QuickTime 7. (Photo by Lawrence I. Charters, taken with a Canon PowerShot S-500 digital camera)

Most of the rest of the show was a disappointment. Aside from a few innovations in cabling and other mundane stuff, there was little creative spark. Paranoia seemed to be the operative word, with dozens and dozens of vendors showing how they could maintain, control, confine, patch, and secure Windows. It was easy to get the impression that Windows was the greatest threat to humanity ever seen, and that all computer hardware and software technology should be devoted to suppressing this threat.

In their own small, quiet way, Apple seemed to agree.

Stacks of servers

The Apple wall had exhibits on both sides. Both sides had a cabinet full of Xserve G5 and Xserve RAID boxes in the center. (Photo by Lawrence I. Charters, taken with a Canon PowerShot S-500 digital camera)