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Gates lampoons DoJ in Comdex Keynote

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Boy, he’s rich and he’s got a sense of humour too. “My last year has been really exciting,” said Bill Gates, kicking off this year’s Comdex Fall keynotes. A quick video of his year’s highlights and he soon had the 5,000-strong audience -- most of whom had queued at the Las Vegas Hilton Theater for more than two hours for the privilege of seeing the great man -- eating out of his hand. The DoJ, the plasticine encounter with Michael Flatley in Celebrity DeathMatch, the notorious Belgian thank God it was a custard pie incident, the blue screen bug exposed at the Windows 98 launch… it was all there on screen. A second video – shown later in the one hour presentation – featured Jay Leno, Tom Brokaw and George Lucas – and incorporated parodies of Gap adverts, Lord of the Dance(in which Gates and Steve Ballmer dressed and danced like Michael Flatley) and another film, whose name escapes us, in which the likely lads lampooned the DoJ hearings. Laughter over, Gates motored into a slick presentation, in which he preached the twin virtues of power and simplicity. Powerful Intel chips had enabled Silicon Graphics International to port its technology to the Windows NT platform Gates said, introducing SGI senior vice president Tom Furlong. A clearly uncomfortable Furlong supplied a sneak peak of SGI's NT- flavoured Visual Workstation, due to ship in January for less than $4,000. The results are stunning… worth checking out. The big technology preview of the day was something called ClearType, a software-only attempt to make reading easier on LCD screens. Perhaps sensing that this is not the easiest technology to display on giant overhead monitors, Bill Hill, Microsoft Research Group and ClearType inventor, came on stage wearing a kilt and the fullest beard this side of Afghanistan, and did a passable -- if unconscious -- imitation of Billy Connolly. Apparently, ClearType works by splitting pixels and it is set for incorporation into Microsoft apps and operating systems, Gates revealed. ClearType-enhanced displays will encourage market take-up of electronic books, he reckons. We shall see. Gates also essayed the virtues of simplicity and ease of use other Microsoft technology, citing idiomatic English commands in SQL Server 7.0, Windows CE-enabled devices, and search information tools that look, feel and act the same. It has been a very long time since The Register saw grown men and women applauding better cut and paste techniques(to be introduced in Office 2000). But, encouraged by the Microsoft claque sitting at the front of the Las Vegas Hilton Theater, the crowd were clapping like sea-lions. Gates also forecast easier-to-use peripherals. At one point a celebrity motocross rider-cum comedy turn called Rusty Crank roared on to the stage on his bike, and then roared his way through a demonstration of a better kind of joystick used with upgrades of MotoCross Madness and Flight Simulator. Microsoft's budget for Bill’s keynote presentation easily ran into seven figures. In successfully positioning Gates as a rounded kind of guy, and as Microsoft as an rounded kind of technology innovator, the Keynote was worth every penny. ®

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