Apple yesterday launched its fastest Mac yet while completing its transition to Intel processors across its product range - and had some barbed comments for Microsoft.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs poked fun at Microsoft during his keynote appearance, saying: "All our friends up North seem able to do these days is copy Google and Apple. I guess that's one example that money isn't everything."

Bertrand Serlet, Apple's senior vice president of engineering for Apple, accused Microsoft of "photocopying" earlier Mac OS X features within the current beta of Windows Vista. He also accused Microsoft of "borrowing" Apple's Aqua user interface logo as part of the new Windows logo.

Standing in front of an image of an obese Elvis Presley imitator, he said: "If you can't innovate, you have to imitate, which is never quite as good."

American Technology Research analyst Shaw Wu agreed: "Microsoft has copied Apple extensively with Vista," he said.

JupiterResearch vice president Michael Gartenberg, observed: "Apple is showing how it can move beyond where Microsoft's Vista is going."

"If customers see the new features and how Leopard is light-years ahead of Vista, they have to consider a Mac," Tim Bajarin, principal analyst at Creative Strategies told SFGate. "This leaves Vista in the dust."

ThinkEquity analyst Jonathan Hoopes thinks Apple's future OS, 'Leopard', will "drive at least as much upgrade momentum as Mac OS X 10.4 'Tiger' did on launch."

He estimates the new OS will drive over $1 billion in upgrade revenues and an incremental $400 million in contribution profits in the 12 months after its release. Apple yesterday confirmed it intends shipping the new OS in spring 2007.

Hoopes also spoke about Apple's new Mac Pro computers and Xeon-powered Xserves. He wrote that the introductory price "indicates the potential for more aggressive pricing across the board to enhance markt share gains."

He observed that CPU sales are "a great foundation from which to sell high-margin software and services." The analyst holds a buy rating on Apple stock with a $90 target price.

Technology Business Research analyst Tim Deal agrees, telling Macworld: "I think that Apple has demonstrated that there is enough value in Leopard for Mac users to upgrade."

However, some analysts were disappointed - they had been hoping for some surprises from the company, which had been expected to launch new professional desktop Macs, new Xserves and to preview its OS.

"It's a slight disappointment," Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster said. "They announced exactly what people were expecting. To get a rise in stock price you have to surprise investors." That aside, Munster rates the stock as 'buy' with a $99 target price.