COMDEX Key Note

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″ 1400×1050 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 (1024×768) and this was the
best available with the initial Tablet releases. The new

Toshiba Portégé® M200/205
looks ideal: 1400×1050
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 1024×768. I don’t quite get it. Here’s hoping that someone soon
puts the two together, and the right way around.