Although Microsofts Windows Hardware Engineering Conference has typically focused on multimedia applications, security issues will likely steal the spotlight this year.
WinHEC, which begins next Tuesday in New Orleans, has dedicated an entire track to Microsofts Next Generation Secure Computing Base, formerly known as Palladium.
Previous WinHEC conferences have focused upon improving various attributes of the PC, such as graphics, audio, and peripheral devices. But this years WinHEC is a pivotal one, as it will introduce attendees to a detailed look at Microsofts vision of trusted computing, the way in which PCI Express will redesign the PC, the addition of 64-bit processors to the PC environment, roaming from GSM to WiFi networks, and significant improvements to networking hardware.
"Actually, its hard to tell what the message is going to be," said Michael Cherry, lead OS analyst for the consulting firm .Directions on Microsoft. "Traditionally, WinHEC is designed for hardware vendors who receive information on what they need to do with Windows even earlier than software developers."
In his keynote address, Microsoft Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates is expected to describe how the concept of computing is becoming increasingly untethered from the PC, observers said. At the same time, Gates should describe Microsofts ongoing efforts to rework the "experience" of PC computing through improved functionality and communications capabilities.
Gates keynote, titled "New Frontiers in Hardware and Software," will explain "how the relationship between hardware and software has never been more important as information workers, IT professionals, consumers and developers interact with an ever-growing array of computing devices," according to a Microsoft spokesman.
Gates keynote will also involve demonstrations of real-time communications advances, next-generation PC prototypes, and innovations in machine provisioning, application deployment and systems management, the spokesman added.
Following Gates will be Dean Kamen, inventor of the Segway scooter, who will talk about innovation and how it can be fostered in the workplace. Jen-Hsun Huang, chief executive of graphics chip maker Nvidia will round out the keynote addresses, highlighting how the PC has become a true convergence platform. Its possible that Huang will offer a sneak peek of the companys NV35 graphics chip, said to be scheduled to be announced in mid-May.