Apple is nibbling at new markets with its upgraded server and RAID systems, as well as new clustering and grid technologies.

Apple's marketers have priced the dual-2.0 Xserve system at $3,999 (£3,199), making the company the price leader for dual-CPU servers by some margin when Windows per-client pricing has been factored in.

Apple sells its systems with no per-client fees for Mac OS X. In contrast, a 25-user enterprise license for Windows adds $2,495 to the price of a dual-processor PowerEdge 1750 server from Dell. Apple's approach has won it a few small bites of business among penny-pinching Internet service providers, cheapskates in the scientific and technology communities, and even the money-grubbers on Wall Street.

Well, maybe not exactly Wall Street. But one CIO in the financial industry, Jon Moog at RiskWise LLC, which runs credit checks for large financial institutions, uses more than 250 Xserve systems in his data center and is more than pleased. "We get tremendous performance from them," he says.

Apple's director of product management for server software Tom Goguen claims that Moog and others in markets outside publishing and education buy the Xserve systems because of Apple's slavish support of industry standards. Moog agrees. But he's also enamored with the Xserve's pricing.

"Dollar for dollar, the systems are cheaper than Windows machines," Moog points out. Will he upgrade to the new G5 Xserve? "Without a doubt."