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SAN FRANCISCO -- Apple's Steve Jobs earns a well-deserved reputation for hype, but he also gets less credit for a tendency to under-promise and over-deliver.

This was evident in Job's big announcement at Macworld today where the rumored Intel-based Macs were announced with greater performance specs and well ahead of schedule. The iMacs are shipping today, and notebooks in February.

When Jobs announced the shift to Intel chips at Apple's developer's conference last Spring he said the first Macs with Intel chips would be delivered in June 2006. But the new models are shipping today, and include both iMacs and a new MacBookPro, all based on the latest Intel Core Duo dual processors.

As is his habit, Jobs saved the biggest news, the Intel-based Macs, for the end of his 90-minute presentation, which featured several significant upgrades to its iLife creativity suite, as well as iWeb to help simplify the creation of personal Web sites. He also launched what may become a new application category called "photocasting," a kind of cousin to podcasting that broadcasts pictures instead of audio.

Microsoft briefly shared the spotlight with good news for corporate and other users of its Microsoft Office suite. Roz Ho, Microsoft's Macintosh business unit manager, announced that Microsoft had signed a formal agreement to provide new versions of Office for a minimum of the next five years.

"Office for Mac is an incredibly successful product, and 2005 was the best year ever," said Ho. "This should leave no doubt in anyone's mind that we're here to stay an it for the long term."

Macworld crowds have not always been friendly to Microsoft, but Ho's statement brought a hearty round of applause. But since this is Macworld Expo, the crowd was mostly anxious to hear about new Macs, and Jobs didn't disappoint.

Intel CEO Paul Otellini emerged dramatically from a cloud of smoke on stage to present Jobs with a silicon wafer representing completion of its job.

This article was first published on InternetNews.com. To read the full article, click here.

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