Bill Gates Is Back

After years of seclusion, coinciding with his company's antitrust defense, the computer industry's most powerful figure and the world's richest man is back, loquaciously, in the public eye.

Bill Gates is back. After years of seclusion, coinciding with his companys antitrust defense, the computer industrys most powerful figure and the worlds richest man is back, loquaciously, in the public eye. Gates celebrated 20 years of Comdex speaking appearances with his traditional Sunday night keynote address. Before Gates stepped onto the stage, however, he met with eWEEK Editor in Chief Eric Lundquist, who peppered Microsofts chairman and chief software architect with questions about how the companys wares can make corporations more productive. In his answers, Gates stuck to his Web services story, pointing out ways in which they will change the way business is done in the next few years. Among Gates revealing responses was his statement that there will be no "Longhorn"-like wait for Microsoft to get its security house in order.

Speaking of Longhorn, Steve Gillmor makes his debut as an eWEEK columnist with his new Signal to Noise column, in which he takes a close look at Longhorn migration and doesnt entirely like what he sees. Mixed messages from Microsoft officials could cool the ardor of the all-important developer community, Gillmor says. Gillmors Signal to Noise will alternate each week with Brian Livingstons Known Issues column.

As Lundquist notes in his Up Front column, Comdex, although having fallen on hard times of late, still fills the need for an annual IT reunion. This year, it was the venue for Microsoft archnemesis and Sun CEO Scott McNealy to try to upstage Gates with two significant announcements. McNealys decision to build Sun servers around AMDs Opteron 64-bit processor is a strong endorsement of the Opteron and lends a great deal of credibility to that platform. Lundquist and Technology Editor Peter Coffee hear the reasoning behind the alliance from McNealy and AMD CEO Hector de Ruiz in their Face to Face interview.

Suns announcement of a deal with the Chinese government for as many as a million copies of its Java Desktop System is intriguing but ambiguous. Sun says it will make money on the deal but wont venture even an approximate figure. Its going much too far to say Sun has somehow "won China." But Sun is helping potentially the worlds largest computing market in its move to open-source platforms. Thats significant, even if Sun never makes a cent.

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