2 minute read

Last night I watched the online video of Bill Gates giving his key note at COMDEX. Partly as a measure of the difference in audience at COMDEX compared to the PDC where Gates was given a rapturous welcome, this speech was somewhat understated focussing mostly on basic topics Microsoft followers probably know a lot about already.

Incidentally, it is worth watching the video as the transcript has quite a few mistakes that could give the wrong impression in places (video: 56k 100k 300k).

Considering the audience, the demonstrations of SMS 2003 and ISA Server 2004 probably went down pretty well. In an environment where managing the patching of desktops in an organisation with the variety of security fixes coming out of Redmond must be a nightmare, the additions to SMS will help out a lot.

I suppose the biggest thrust of the speech is about the concept of Seamless Computing. This is pretty ill-defined but has to do with removing the boundaries between different computing environments. Microsoft’s goal is to make your data pervasive across whatever devices you own, from your powerful business servers through your mobile PC’s, PDA’s, phones, and even your wristwatch, and between different applications, systems, and even organisations in a controlled seamless manner. This is a software problem and managed code and web services will be the glue to bind these applications together, we’re told.

The section I was most interested in was to see if any announcements would be made about the Tablet PC. Gates indicated that the next version of Windows XP Tablet Edition will be available next year as a free upgrade to existing users with enhancements including a better ink recognition engine and interface. On the hardware side, we see the release of the second generation of Tablet PC’s. I’m left somewhat disappointed so far however.

I’ve wanted a Tablet PC since Microsoft first announced their return to Pen Computing, but now in an age where the hardware and software could deliver on its true promise. My current laptop, though, whilst over 2 years old has a 14.1” 1400x1050 resolution (SXGA+ apparently) display. Now, if I buy a Tablet PC, I don’t want to lose that and step back to what was available when I bought my previous laptop over 4 1/2 years ago (1024x768) and this was the best available with the initial Tablet releases. The new Toshiba Portégé® M200/205 looks ideal: 1400x1050 display, up to 2 gig of RAM, and up to a 1.7GHz processor. But it only has a 12.1” screen - won’t you need a magnifying glass? The Acer and Gateway devices have 14.1” screens but still only running at 1024x768. I don’t quite get it. Here’s hoping that someone soon puts the two together, and the right way around.