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Monday, November 03, 2008, 07:30 pm PT (10:30 pm ET)

Apple puts further 2008 Mac updates on ice

An Apple spokesperson has cooled down expectations of a last-minute refresh to the Mac line, or any other products, before the start of the new year.

Company press representative Bill Evans has told Macworld that Apple's lineup is fixed in place for the rest of 2008.

"Our holiday line-up is set," the official says.

The news dampens expectations for late 2008, which according to roadmaps would have Apple launch minor iMac updates before the year closed out.

The computer maker has let just over six months slip past since revising the all-in-one desktop in late April but was thought to be readying a fall update that would bring the processors into line with Intel's latest technology. Although the iMac has been technically using a group of non-standard processors that have the same performance characteristics as Intel's latest mobile chips, they technically use last-generation parts that don't necessarily share all the performance or feature advantages as the latest Core 2 Duo components.

These current 20- and 24-inch offerings also trail behind the new MacBooks in terms of video features. Both the Radeon HD 2400 and 2600 have remained unchanged since the aluminum iMac was first introduced in August 2007, or 15 months ago, leaving hardware H.264 video acceleration and other improvements aside. Similarly, a promise to add DisplayPort to all Macs will now have to be shelved until 2009.

It's unknown what, if anything, is pushing the next iMac update at least two months into the future, though Apple executives have alluded to a greater role for NVIDIA hardware in Macs in the long term that would represent a major architectural change to any remaining system, all of which at present use Intel mainboard chipsets.

A Mac mini overhaul is also expected in the future, though there had been no hard evidence to suggest it would arrive this year.