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Wednesday, October 25, 2006, 02:00 pm PT (05:00 pm ET)

Briefly: Xeon Xserves slip; iMac and Mac Pro gain options

Though now available for pre-order, Apple's Xeon Xserves won't arrive until the middle of next month. Meanwhile, the company has added 750GB drive options to a couple of its desktop lines. And a prestigious market research firm says it doesn't see Microsoft's Zune (especially the brown model) posing any threat to the iPod.

Xeon Xserve availability pushed back

Apple on Wednesday began accepting pre-orders for its quad-core Intel Xeon-based Xserve rack-mount severs, which were first announced during the company's World Wide Developers Conference in early August.

Upon announcing the systems, Apple estimated delivery during the month of October but has since pushed their release out by several weeks to the middle of November.

The standard $3000 configuration includes two 2.0GHz dual-core Intel Xeon, 1GB (2x512MB) of 667MHz DDR2 fully buffered ECC RAM, an 80GB Serial ATA ADM at 7200-rpm, a 24x Combo (DVD-ROM/CD-RW) and an ATI Radeon X1300 64MB SDRAM with VGA Adapter.

Customers may custom-configure the servers with up to 31 additional gigabytes of RAM, a 750GB ATA drive (or 300GB SAS ADM at 15,000-rpm) in each of 3 drive bays, and an 8x SuperDrive DL (DVD+R DL/DVD + RW/CD-RW) amongst various other PCI Express expansion cards.

The quad-core Xeon Xserve can also be configured with two 2.66GHz dual-core processors for an additional $800 or two 3.0GHz dual-core chips for a whopping $1800 premium.

24-inch iMac and Mac Pro gain storage options

Meanwhile, Apple has quietly added a $400 750GB Serial ATA Drive option to its top-of-the-line 24-inch iMac offering.

Come 2007, it's likely the all-in-one desktops will be the first consumer Mac to offer a full terabyte of storage space, providing plenty of space for all those iTunes movies Apple hopes to sell.

Similarly, it's also now possible to configured each of the Mac Pro's four drive bays with 750GB 7200-rpm Serial ATA drives ($600 each) for a total of 3 terabytes of storage.

Another firm downplays Zune

Earlier this week, market research firm JupiterResearch in a report said Microsoft's forthcoming Zune player will not significantly impact Apple's iPod market share.

The firm also concluded that mobile phone players are not a threat to Apple's iPod dominance because most customers are not interested in wireless music downloads. On the other hand, it expects handheld media player shipments to nearly triple over the next five years.