Gates Targets Linux in Comdex Keynote

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.

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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."

/zimages/6/28571.gifMoores 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.

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