A quick public service announcement: if you haven't backed up your Windows Vista PC recently, now's a good time...

Now, just before lunch and after navigating icy streets to work (this is Redmond, not Fargo...) I have a quick update from NPR on the latest announcements at MacWorld... as well as more stories from Apple today....

Apple CEO Steve Jobs announced the model Tuesday at the Macworld Expo conference in San Francisco, the same event that brought the announcement of the iPhone last year.

Also on the way from Apple are two new services: the ability to rent downloadable feature films via Apple TV, and Time Capsule, a backup system that provides automatic safety versions of any of the company's computers running on a wireless network.

The company's popular iPhone also got a freshened suite of software, most notably a new messaging system and improved mapping ability. Jobs' presentation included a slideshow that showed Apple with nearly 20 percent of the U.S. smartphone market.

The new MacBook Air starts out at SRP US$1,799, and has a 13" LED-backlit screen with a 1.6GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor, standard 80GB hard drive and 2GB of memory. For a little more than three grand, the Air is available with a faster 1.8GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor and a 64GB solid-state flash drive ("SSD").  Until recently, the award for thinnest laptop went to Intel for the Intel Mobile Metro Notebook ('tho that was a concept design).  Also worth noting are the Dell XPS M1330 and Toshiba Portege R500 series, the thinnest notebooks with integrated optical disk drives... plus the Portege R500 also offers a configuration that includes 2GB of memory and a 64GB SSD in place of the hard disc.

My favourite innovation announced by Apple is Remote Disc, allowing the Air notebook to access the CD or DVD drive of a nearby Mac or Windows PC. 

[added 011608]:  I like the concept of expanding iTunes (which I don't use) to offer movie rentals, but I prefer discs by mail (until we find a subscription package available a la what Netflix announced around unlimited streaming (as noted here at Computerworld)...

January 14, 2008 (Computerworld) -- Beginning today, Netflix Inc. subscribers who have unlimited DVD rental plans will be able to stream as many movies and television shows as they want online for no additional charge, the online DVD rental company said. Netflix said its subscribers will have access to its library of more than 6,000 movies and TV episodes.

Also interesting but not widely reported yet was Apple's announcement today with Twentieth Century Fox of Digital Copy for iTunes (as noted in these links), providing "customers who purchase a DVD with an additional Digital Copy of the movie."  The first DVD to make a debut with this feature is the Family Guy "Star Wars" parody, "Family Guy Presents: Blue Harvest," released today.

Tags: Apple, MacBook Air, Macworld, Microsoft, Vista, Windows.