Recapping Apple’s iPad Event

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dandoz

I was IT support at an Advertising firm that was 90% Mac based. Considering that limited us to one supplier for equipment, we benchmarked to see what models we needed for each job.

We gave a lot of the asset management (picture moving) people dual-core iMacs, for instance, because our benchmarking found that the versions of Adobe CS worked better with dual-core at higher clock speeds than four-core at lower clock speeds in real-world use.

The only real wasted expense was having photo retouchers using MacPros. Yes, one person running Photoshop on one machine probably would have been able to run better/cheaper with a newer i7 with SSD and maxed RAM, Windows7 64bit, and I could have built it myself for 1/2 the cost of the aging MacPros.

One of the photo retouchers did just that for his own home studio. I helped him pick out parts from NewEgg.

As a case geek, I think the new MacPro looks wicked cool, and it brings some real engineering innovation to mod to the old ATX+ form factors. That said, it's a boutique item that even graphics professionals don't really need. I'd say most people who are 2-D graphics professionals who INSIST on a Mac could still get more for their money with an iMac.

Most graphics professionals consider their Wacom Tablets their most precious item. And on that, I can see how Windows hasn't looked very serious in messing with touchscreens. Mac trackpads and touchpads are still the best in the business, IMHO.

One nice thing about IT support when most everyone is on iMacs is it makes it a breeze to switch out and upgrade desktop machines. One and done. ;)

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MaximumMike

It's interesting to hear someone who actually benchmarked some of these Mac's admitting the same performance can be achieved for cheaper on a Windows machine.

I was trying to understand some of your other points about why a professional would actually prefer a Mac. In regards to the touchpads and trackpads, I've always hated them no matter how good they were. They still pale in comparison to a mouse. But I guess that comes down to preference. I know people who prefer track-balls as well, and I think those are the worst.

In regards to the Wacom Tablets, I think I've heard of them before, but I've never looked into them before now. I just took a look at Wacom's site and they do look very nice, but they are also cross platform devices that work just as easily with Windows as they do with OSX.

Also, of note is the fact that when Apple branded it's slate (iPad) as a tablet, it's marketing department practically killed the already existing tablet segment. Real tablets of the time had the same hardware as laptops, but with a touch screen that swiveled around and laid down flat and could be used with a provided stylus. After taking a cursory look at the Wacom Tablets, it seems that they are adding a second screen to accomplish what the real tablets of old were able to do with one screen. I fail to see how Apple fans, who are known for their love of simplicity, like this functionality better. But maybe I'm missing something and these Wacom Tablets have some functionality not available on traditional tablets?

Edit: It's also just as easy to switch out your pc's if you buy them all from Dell, Lenovo, Acer, HP, Toshiba, Sony, or any other vendor for that matter. There is always an advantage to using just one vendor for the same kind of equipment. But that advantage isn't one endemic to only Apple.

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dandoz

What I meant about Wacom Tablets is that most people who do that kind of work professionally, whether Mac or PC, are definitely loyal to their Wacoms universally more than they are to a platform.

I think a very fair appeal of Macs to a potential user is that I think their peripheral and navigation out of the box, as in touchpads, trackpads, etc., are very well done.

I looked hard at what Windows 8 has done, touch-wise. I even have the Logitech Windows 8 touchpad which I used with my Win8 machine for a month before I decided it just was worse than a standard mouse. Wacom has a dedication from artists that Windows 8 touchscreens presented no serious alternative to. I was hoping there would be.

I've worked in training and support in design/graphics environment and started on Macs. In my experience I've always stopped people from badmouthing PCs. XP in its day, and Windows 7 are both wonderfully stable, highly customizable platforms for doing things that moderately push the hardware as photo-retouching, desktop publishing, and page-layout all do.

I think the appeal of Macs is partly the marketing reputation of being "creative." But in real terms what people like is the twist-and-go personality to the Mac experience. I say all the time that you shouldn't buy a Mac just to be "creative," because your software won't do the work for you.

And I meant it's very easy to "upgrade" someone's desktop computer with iMacs by just going "yoink" and removing the old one, and putting the new one in place without going under desks for cables, connectors, etc. There are some technical niceties about Macs from a geek perspective, such as target-disk mode and using Unix Bash scripting behind the scenes, too, etc.

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MaximumMike

>>What I meant about Wacom Tablets is that most people who do that kind of work professionally, whether Mac or PC, are definitely loyal to their Wacoms universally more than they are to a platform.

Yea, they looked pretty awesome when I looked at the site, so I can certainly see why. Though I wonder if the true tablet form factor had continued to develop if it couldn't have given them a run for their money. But I guess these Wacom's also have the added bonus of being compatible with a power-house desktop, while tablet pc's can never quite be at the top end of performance or customization, due to their limited size, power requirements, and cooling restraints. So, I guess I can see the appeal to the Wacom's.

>>I think a very fair appeal of Macs to a potential user is that I think their peripheral and navigation out of the box, as in touchpads, trackpads, etc., are very well done.

Well the only peripherals that matter to me are the keyboards and mice, and any Mac mouse or keyboard I have ever tried has been absolutely atrocious. But since you can buy your own keyboard or mouse to your liking and have it work with either Windows or OSX (though I'm not certain on the keyboard), I'm calling that a wash. I'll have to take your word for it in regards to the trackpad and touchpad. I've never tried them on a Mac. As a rule of thumb, I try to avoid them no matter what device I'm using.

But on the notion of peripherals, there is a whole host of gaming peripherals out there, which are entirely awesome and wholly outclass anything available on consoles. I know we're talking about appeal to professionals, and not gamers, but let's not forget that IBM's OS2, while superior to Windows NT, failed because of its lack of support for games. And that was a platform dedicated to nothing but business professionals. So, I wonder how good the support for gaming peripherals on a Mac is. I've always heard there aren't drivers for most of them.

>>I looked hard at what Windows 8 has done, touch-wise. I even have the Logitech Windows 8 touchpad which I used with my Win8 machine for a month before I decided it just was worse than a standard mouse. Wacom has a dedication from artists that Windows 8 touchscreens presented no serious alternative to. I was hoping there would be.

I'm actually really interested in your experience in that regard. Isn't your Wacom also compatible with your Windows 8 box, or do you only use it on your Mac? If you're able to use it with Windows 8, can you elaborate about what makes the experience better than the Logitech touchpad? Also, if that's the case, then is the shortcoming really more with Windows 8 or with Logitech's device? Finally, if you're able to use the same Wacom device on both OSX and Windows, have you found the experiences to be comparable or better on one platform versus the other?

>>I've worked in training and support in design/graphics environment and started on Macs. In my experience I've always stopped people from badmouthing PCs. XP in its day, and Windows 7 are both wonderfully stable, highly customizable platforms for doing things that moderately push the hardware as photo-retouching, desktop publishing, and page-layout all do.

Ok, but professionals have been using their Mac's and PC's for more intensive stuff than that, like video encoding and 3D rendering. Have you noticed a difference with the more taxing applications?

>>There are some technical niceties about Macs from a geek perspective, such as target-disk mode and using Unix Bash scripting behind the scenes, too, etc.

I honestly don't care for how Apple has ruined a perfectly good Unix kernel. But there's no denying that the kernel is still there and that some Unix awesomeness is still possible on a Mac. I honestly prefer Unix scripting to writing DOS COM files, but most of the same stuff can be achieved on either platform. There just aren't as many Windows people around who know how to do it anymore.

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dandoz

I don't know how to use Wacom tablets very well, myself. That's not my forté. I use that as an example of an interface that is very important to many graphics professionals. Considering that Apple let their old graphics user base go pound sand while they focused on iOS and small computing for the past five years, it's amazing that there was not more backlash.

I agree that PC game peripherals have pushed the envelope of interfacing with a computing environment. I maintain that where Wacom tablets are now, with slight ability to recognize pressure adjustment, could explode into a true interface revolution when "touch" integrates haptic sensation as well. I wish Ballmer hadn't apparently bulled through the one-size-fits-all marketing of Windows 8. Creative types who felt abandoned by Apple weren't given a persuasive sell by shoving Metro in their faces.

As for real-world difference in Mac vs PC in pushing iron with video encoding, well, that's hard to say. MacPros with multi-cored and multi-processor Xeons have always performed well, but that's still only comparable with high-end PC components, and that's all a big money game. PCs have had the edge in being able to quickly swap out components, mix-and-match difference processors cards for different jobs. Macs on high-end machines in a pure support environment have some advantages in support without OS licenses being tied to hardware which has enabled drives and builds to be swapped out as needed, as well as Time Machine being the best backup tool I've yet seen.

Consumer-priced i7 chips have been a huge bargain for prosumers doing work nearly as efficiently as on Xeons that have made the MacPro, frankly, often not worth it when comparing costs. One of the last things I did at that Ad Firm was fit out a small video-editing suite. We compared cost-to-benchmarking, and rather than a MacPro (this was 2011) we used the highest-end i7 27" iMac with maxxed RAM. The premium to the Xeon MacPro family wasn't worth it for this work. We invested in a Thunderbolt Pegasus raid and a second 27" monitor. The money spent on high-res monitors and a very fast RAID, for instance, was calculated as a better return for money for the purpose of this editing station rather than just a Xeon box.

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MaximumMike

>>it's amazing that there was not more backlash.

I don't get it either. My backlash is always immediate. For instance, after a decade of running nothing but AMD processors, I bought an Intel processor because the Core 2 architecture was killing what AMD had at the time. I want the best. I don't care who makes it.

>>I maintain that where Wacom tablets are now, with slight ability to recognize pressure adjustment, could explode into a true interface revolution when "touch" integrates haptic sensation as well.

That could be very interesting. I never understood why the tablet/stylus type peripherals never took off more than they did. One of the big reasons I want a Note 3 is for the stylus. I'm not sure how people don't see the utility of such a device.

>>I wish Ballmer hadn't apparently bulled through the one-size-fits-all marketing of Windows 8. Creative types who felt abandoned by Apple weren't given a persuasive sell by shoving Metro in their faces.

That's the problem with Windows 8. No one was given a persuasive sell with Metro. You can debate the pro's and con's of Windows 8 until you're blue in the face. But the truth is that people don't like it. They certainly didn't win over any new customers with it.

>>Consumer-priced i7 chips have been a huge bargain for prosumers doing work nearly as efficiently as on Xeons that have made the MacPro, frankly, often not worth it when comparing costs.

That's nice to know. I've always wondered if I had big bucks to spend on a "dream machine" of my own if there would be any real reason to get Xeons. And from the sound of things, there's not.

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Xenite

I thought this site was called Maximum PC... my mistake. If I wanted to read Apple crap I would head over to CNet, it's about all they cover.

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Spaztrick

The first sentence in the article:
"We may not be the biggest Apple fans, but we still think it’s important to keep up with the competition"

Also, if you don't want to head to CNET, I'm sure Gizmodo would have you covered too since they love Apple.

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Engelsstaub

They talk about phones, tablets, and games too.

Most of this is centered around the Mac Pro, which (by definition) is a PC and is relevant and interesting to many whether you like it or not. MPC almost never covers Apple crap and you don't have to read it the few times they do. The rest of us (even MaximumMike and others who dislike Apple as much as you) are getting along just fine talking about it. …because it's interesting once in a while.

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MaximumMike

I agree. This is Maximum PC, not Maximum Windows. I certainly don't want to be pummeled with every nugget of Apple trivia, but I do want to know about their major product announcements- especially the one's concerning their pc's. Who knows maybe one day they'll release something I care about. It hasn't happened yet, but if it ever does (doubtful though it may be) I might get one.

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Engelsstaub

Even if they never do you can be a "hater" and still want to know what's going on with "the competition."

If someone asks you why your PC is better than the new MacPro "Apple sucks!" isn't going to be as persuasive to most as knowing a few things about it so you can compare the two and make your point.

I personally don't read anything Apple unless it's here, on Ars, or hits my @me inbox. Here would be the negative-to-neutral viewpoint, Ars is pretty neutral, and my inbox is just product announcements from Apple (obviously positive and self-extolling.) That's enough perspective for me. If I need to find out some Terminal hack for something i just Google for it.

My point is we're all computer dorks, regardless of chosen platforms, or we wouldn't be reading sites like these. I read MPC because I'm basically neutral and use Windows and Linux too. Even though I spend most of my time in OS X I don't feel the need to read about Mac stuff. I don't learn anything like I do here. ...and gaming PCs are badass :)

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LatiosXT

Despite the "Apple Tax" on most of their stuff, I've found that their Mac Pros are actually kind of hard to beat when you try to build a similar configuration from say Newegg.

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Slowman

I agree, I was thinking it would be at least $500 more. I had to catch myself. I started going "You know a Haswell and a pair of 780's would be pretty cool". I tend to shy away from nonstandard hardware, but it is pretty slick looking.

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jonnyohio

I have a refurb MacBook Pro. The hardware is pretty darn nice, and refurbs r better priced. Of course I put windows 7 on the thing. Mac OSX is okay, but I prefer windows 7. It has a core i7 in it and the gforce graphics are pretty damn good for mobile gaming...the high res (not retina) display is just sweet on the eyes. I'm not a big apple fan at all, but I'll give credit where credit is due: they can build a good PC....I just wish they weren't so damn stingy with the USB ports.

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DeltaFIVEengineer

I think the biggest announcement with the furthest reaching implications was that Mavericks is going to be free. I suspect that they'll make this the trend in the future since they set the precedent that a new version of their operating system will be free. If that's the case, Microsoft will be last man standing with an operating system you'll have to pay for.

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LatiosXT

Well it depends on a certain point of view. Since Mac OS X is only allowed on Apple authorized hardware (as per EULA), then it's not exactly free. Maybe part of that "Apple Tax" is paying for the OS.

Maybe Microsoft can reduce the retail cost of their OS (Ha!), because I know that OEMs get Windows for a pittance compared to DIYers.

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LatiosXT

Also if we look at it from another point of view...

Microsoft actually ships a more or less new OS. Apple kept shipping service packs. So it is Apple who has finally caught up to Microsoft :D

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Eoraptor

Pretty much this. There's also all the licensed technology that goes into an OS. Just about every standard is owned by someone, be it a trade group or a corporation; and an OS maker has to either pay a license to use that tech, or agree to an common license on ways it can and can't be used and rigidly enforce that in its implementation. It's why Microsoft dumped support for DVD playback in windows 8, they were tired of paying the licenses on several of it's key technologies.

free for the end user does not mean it costs "nothing" to build an OS. even Android and Linux isn't actually free, most people making use of it on a commercial scale are paying license fees to various companies to do so because of things like mpeg encoding, security key technology for passwords, oracle's java licenses for business use, fcc radio spectrum certification for both the cellular and wifi protocols, etc.

but yeah, ~most~ of the apple tax is not subsidizing that, most of the apple tax is going into the pockets of people working in Cuppertino or holding apple stock.

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DeltaFIVEengineer

Completely agree. However, it's all about perception since perception = reality and the end user matters the most in driving the market on perception.

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MaximumMike

I'd like to see MaxPC drop 3 grand on a custom built graphics workstation running Windows 7. Deck it out with all the Adobe stuff and whatever else the professionals use. Then benchmark the Windows box against the new Mac Pro in the apps graphics professionals actually use. I would be very curious to see the results.

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alex.beschler

Agreed. Everybody says that Macs are "great for professionals," but I'd like to see if that's actually true or not...

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MaximumMike

I have a friend who has been a graphics designer for a long time. When he was in school for graphics design, it was the typical "you can only do this on a Mac" bs. But he has worked several places that used PC's and prefers them himself. He acknowledges that Mac's are very good at what they do, but espouses that PC's can do better for cheaper, and that graphics shops with good business sense use PC's for that reason.

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vrmlbasic

Except for mac-exclusive software, what advantages does the Mac have over a PC? They both can use off-the-shelf Intel CPUs and Nvidia/AMD GPUs.

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alex.beschler

I totally agree. Final Cut Pro is pretty cool, but you can build a cheaper and faster computer than the Mac Pro.

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Engelsstaub

In all honesty there are no real advantages.

It's all true. As a person who likes Macs and uses both Macs and PCs I'll readily admit that a "pro" doesn't *need* a Mac for anything other than software. A PC with similar specs and capabilities is almost always going to be cheaper (but won't get you any resale-value unfortunately.)

I don't know shit about video and photo stuff but all the audio engineers and pros I know are surprisingly about equal in their PC-to-Mac usage. A good number of them are using PCs because there's plenty of software that is cross-platform or has a good Windows alternative.

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Jademan

How many TBs of RAM does Win8.1 Pro x64 support? :D

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Eoraptor

pretty much the same number as OSX does... a number which far exceeds what the hardware is actually capable of supporting in practice.

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Keith E. Whisman

I plan on getting a new iPad Mini Retina and a high end 27" iMac this tax season. I've been enthralled with my iPhones and now iPad. The new iPad Air looks great but seeing how I just bought my iPad 4, I don't see a need to get the new Air. All that is different is the performance is better and its thinner. My iPad 4 should run everything just fine for at least the next couple of years if not longer. I really like where Apple is going and can't wait for the prices to drop even further so everyone can see Apple computers as an affordable option.

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Eoraptor

$3000 is not unreasonable for a high-power machine... but yeah, why do I think more of that is going into the krups paint job than the intel hardware?

as to the rest.. a great gaping meh. I wasn't aware that iPads were so ungainly that they needed an air-style slimming down.. and an update to mac OSX is just about as exiting as windows 8 to 8.1... (but that too makes sense since redmond decided to follow cupertino's lead there this time)

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Engelsstaub

They're not following their lead in price. OS X Mavericks is a free upgrade to Mac users. (Like 7 should have been to Vista IMO.)

I'm of the opinion that this new short-ass OS cycle that everyone is on is completely unnecessary regardless of company and price though. Nobody needs a brand new OS every year or two. They should all be concentrating on updates to their existing ones for at least four years. Just imagine how much better off we all would be if they put all that effort into improving existing fully-modern and usable OSes that we all paid plenty for (one way or another. For Windows the cost is outright and Mac OS is paid for by hardware.)

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vrmlbasic

If the iPad mini is 2,048x1,568, what is the res on the new iPad Retina?

If only these things had expandable storage and USB ports...

Will the new Macbook Pro Retinas have GPUs that have more power than the anemic GeForce 650M?

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ckeck

The new 15" Retina MBP has a slight upgrade in the 750M which from what I can gather is just a slightly overclocked 650M, but better than nothing. I'm picking up one this afternoon to run some "tests".

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Innomasta

unlikely. It is my belief that compromises must be made to meet their aesthetic standards.

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4000

There will be a Mac Pro in our house. Why? Because happy wife = happy life. Besides, it's not like I have to use the thing.

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tekknyne

translation: his wife pwns him. Way to get face rolled.

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machew100

your wife sounds like a real thrill when you pull out mantras like that.

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vrmlbasic

"Women are Soul Murderers!" <- William Murderface

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Engelsstaub

I love that show. I'm sad that it's going to be over.

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vrmlbasic

As am I. It was my favorite thing on [AS]

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Innomasta

I'm excited to play with the new Ipad, and i would love to try out that mac pro, if only as a curiosity (screw 3K)

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jesse_n_sf

Don't expect anything to knock your socks off. Remember Apple has a difficult time to change. Just like Apple had a hard time deciding if the screen should be bigger in the iPhone. And you know they didn't want to make the iPad Mini until they lost a tiny bit of market share. Apple's intention in marketing is that they want you to have the Apple name embedded in to your brain right when you come out of your mother's womb, like Coca cola is today. Believe me, if they achieve this goal then you will see the nastiness from a company that you were manipulated to like. So, please don't get your hopes up and it's not good to be loyal to any product or company.

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vrmlbasic

Microsoft's intention is that you'll have their OS embedded in your brain thanks to US public education. Same with Texas Instruments.

I once read a quote from Gen. Patton to the effect that the real measure of how good you are at your job is how well your job/unit functions when you are gone. By that measurement it does not seem as though Steve Jobs was particularly great at his job as his successors have failed: the iPad Mini should have been Retina from Day 1 and the iPhone 5 shouldn't have had a low resolution that is eclipsed by so many other phones.

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MaximumMike

Not to mention that it's impossible to play back any HD format without compression artifacts, due to the non-standard native resolution. Considering that Apple is supposed to cater to that crowd, they should be ashamed.

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Engelsstaub

It looks cool but I'm with you: I'm not spending 3K on it. Maybe "pros" can see the value but I can't.

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Innomasta

you know how it is.. i'm a bigshot videographer i gotta have the best blabla...

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Engelsstaub

Haha…well to be fair the professional users haven't had a worthwhile hardware update in forever. It looked like Apple was ditching the Mac Pro (and its users) altogether for a couple years.