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Is this the Windows Longhorn PC? HP unveils ‘Agora’ concept

Apparently it's 'Mr' Bill Gates to them...

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HP has been showing what might be the next generation of Microsoft business PC behind closed doors at Comdex, according to Mark Hachman of Extremetech. The "Agora" communications PC looks a bit switched off to us, possibly even wooden, but salient points are that HP told Mark that there would be a "fully-functioning product" at WinHEC next year, and that HP is "lead partner" with Microsoft on the initiative, with "commitments to Mr. Bill Gates."

Which signposts that we have another Microsoft exercise in specifying a particular class of hardware for a particular market, and possibly producing a particular edition of Windows for it, a la Tablet PC. Nice work if you can get it - you commission your special friends to do the reference design, which you then at least co-own, then you get to play favourites with the other PC companies. And the chip vendors.

What's actually in the HP Agora isn't clear, although it's supposed to ship "within the 2004 timeframe." HP comes over all coy on the subject of the operating system, declining to say Longhorn, but 2004 right now means Longhorn, and if all goes according to schedule, we can expect other manufacturers to join in (or apply for team membership) nearer the date.

As HP is currently pitching it on the basis of small footprint, good looks and the communications facilities outside the box, we can also expect Longhorn to be pushed as a hardware/software package, with (in this case) bells and whistles added specifically for the business market. The new file store will no doubt qualify as one of these. Palladium might too, given that the first target for Palladium is business.

Other possibilities include a 'ring camera' which puts six mini cameras on a stalk in the middle of the table. This means you can videoconference in IMAX, or something. Look for more stick-on gizmos to join the package as the launch date approaches. ®

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