Gates Targets Linux in Comdex Keynote

By Peter Coffee  |  Posted 2003-11-17 Print this article Print

In his Comdex keynote address, Chairman Bill Gates contrasted Linux distributions and services with Microsoft's .Net architecture and Web services.

LAS VEGAS—Opening a Comdex that badly needed proof of the shows continuing relevance, Microsoft Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates delivered his traditional Sunday night keynote. Click here for more coverage of Bill Gates Comdex Las Vegas 2003 keynote address.
Remembering his first appearance in 1983, Gates declared that the PC industry at that time "needed Moores Law"—that is, it needed dramatic hardware improvements to make innovations such as the graphical interface work well enough to be perceived as genuine improvements.
Now, he asserted, the remaining fundamental problems of information integration and trustworthy computing are problems that must be solved by software: he called those solutions difficult, but doable. And with those achievements, he said, "In this decade well deliver more productivity gains than we have in everything weve done before." Moores Law received its 20th anniversary party this year In keeping with the enterprise IT focus that Comdex organizers are striving to achieve, Gates spent much less time than usual on end-user computing products and experiences. Instead, he positioned Microsofts enterprise platform strategy against IBMs combination of Linux platforms and service-intensive offerings. He showed a video parody of "The Matrix" in which Steve Ballmer—"the hacker Steve-O"—was offered a choice between a massive Big Blue Pill bearing a Linux penguin logo, or a more comfortably-sized red pill bearing a Windows logo. "You take the blue pill," said Gates in the character of Morpheus, "and you wake up to find an army of IT consultants running your company." By contrast, Gates suggested that Microsofts .Net architecture would give enterprise IT builders an affordable and integrated platform whose own internals used Web services mechanisms. "Its not Microsofts approach to make you buy an expensive applications server," he said: "The operating system will expose its own services to applications using Web Services protocols." In addition, Gates claimed that the companys $6.8 billion research budget represented a new record for an IT company; oddly enough, he drew his biggest applause of the night at the other end of the IT spectrum with the promise that Tablet PC owners will receive a free upgrade of their operating system in the middle of next year. Discuss This in the eWEEK Forum
Peter Coffee is Director of Platform Research at, where he serves as a liaison with the developer community to define the opportunity and clarify developers' technical requirements on the company's evolving Apex Platform. Peter previously spent 18 years with eWEEK (formerly PC Week), the national news magazine of enterprise technology practice, where he reviewed software development tools and methods and wrote regular columns on emerging technologies and professional community issues.Before he began writing full-time in 1989, Peter spent eleven years in technical and management positions at Exxon and The Aerospace Corporation, including management of the latter company's first desktop computing planning team and applied research in applications of artificial intelligence techniques. He holds an engineering degree from MIT and an MBA from Pepperdine University, he has held teaching appointments in computer science, business analytics and information systems management at Pepperdine, UCLA, and Chapman College.

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