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Apple may be ditching optical drives in new iMac, Mac Pro

The next-generation models of Apple's iMac and Mac Pro could, for the first time in almost two decades, ship without a built-in optical drive.

According to an AppleInsider source, the internal configuration files in Apple's OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion that reference USB booting options suggest that the unreleased Macs will lack optical drives.

The anonymous source was sifting through Boot Camp files and found several references to unreleased Mac Pros and iMacs – the Mac Pro 6 and iMac 13.

As AppleInsider noted, the removal of the optical drive from the all-in-one desktop iMac could help make room in the machine for other components. The additional space could also make it easier for designers to slim down the computer, giving it a look closer to that of an LED TV.

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Apple has been steadily removing the optical drive from its Mac lineup. The fifth-generation Mac Mini, released in 2011, was the first non-server version of the tiny computer to lack an optical drive, AppleInsider reported. Other optical-free Macs include the Mac mini, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro with Retina display.

The Retina display MacBook Pro made a big splash at WWDC earlier this summer, but Apple's desktop fanboys were far from pleased that they again appeared to be an afterthought when it came to new products.

After a worried customer emailed Apple CEO Tim Cook about the slight, Cook responded to say that "we're working on something really great for later next year."