At long last: new iMacs almost here?

The last iMac upgrade occurred in May 2011. A new report says that Apple’s plans to upgrade the all-in-one desktop are “imminent.” Feature-wise, we’ll reportedly get a high-resolution display, faster processors, and an even thinner design that nixes the optical drive.

The Apple Roundup: Microsoft got iOS license with promise not to copy

Here’s our daily pick of stories about Apple from around the web that you shouldn’t miss. Today’s installment: revelations about Apple and Microsoft’s licensing agreement, the super-secure iPhone, signs point to a September iPhone launch, the mythical Apple television, and the death of optical drives.

New Mac mini Runs OS X Server for $999

Calling it a “new, mightier mini,” Apple (s aapl0 updated its smallest desktop with special attention to the optical drive. No, Blu-ray wasn’t added, rather Apple now offers a model with no optical drive at all.

mac_mini_server

However, contrary to rumors and wish-fulfillment on my part, Apple did not lower the price of the entry-level mini to $499.

On the low end, the $599 Mac mini has a 2.26GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, up from 2.0GHz, and 2GB of RAM, up from a measly 1GB, and a 160GB hard drive, up from 120GB. You still get five USB ports and one FireWire, as well as NVIDIA GeForce 9400M integrated graphics and a SuperDrive. The $799 model now has a 2.53 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, 4GB of RAM, and a 320GB hard drive. So, same price, a little faster, more memory, a bit more storage on the low-end. It’s not much of an update to talk about, if not for the Mac mini with Snow Leopard Server. Read More about New Mac mini Runs OS X Server for $999

Are Optical Drives Going the Way of the Floppy?

Optical Drive

Computerworld’s Seth Weintraub thinks optical drives are going the way of the Dodo bird. He predicts the MacBook Air and white MacBook will get Secure Digital (SD) slots with their next updates (will the WhiteBook get another update?), and that SD may replace built-in DVD drives entirely on the next generation of MacBooks.

Why Otherwise Explain SD Bootability?

Why otherwise, Weintraub reasons, would Apple (s aapl) bother going to the trouble of explaining how to configure a bootable SD card, which it recently did in a Knowledge Base article. He deduces that the SD card is now a key element in Apple’s MacBook strategy, destined to replace optical drives on most Apple laptops going forward, which would logically mean system install/software restore data along with application software eventually being shipped on SD rather than optical media.

Those who really need DVD access would still be able to buy external USB Superdrives, like the one available for the optical drive-less MacBook Air.

This concept makes good sense to me, a nascent SD card fan. I mean, as Weintraub challenges, which would you rather have on your laptop — an easily rewritable, silent, 32GB SD card the size of a postage stamp that can hold about the same amount of data as eight DVDs, or a big, heavy, noisy, vibrating, power-sucking spinning disk with media that scratches easily, and which gobbles up about one-quarter of your computer’s internal volume? Read More about Are Optical Drives Going the Way of the Floppy?