Will Security Fallout Dull Microsoft Lonestars Shine?

Chairman Bill Gates will be walking a fine line, come Comdex 2003. Security can't play second fiddle to the latest Tablet advances this year.

If its the Sunday night before Comdex, it must be time for yet another Bill Gates keynote. And, if recent history offers any guidance, we can expect get an earful about the Tablet PC.

But if I were a betting woman heading off to Sin City this year, Id wager that Gates wont be waxing poetic to the extent he usually does about the coolest, newest gadgets that are part of Microsofts vision for the digital decade. Instead, Im expecting Gates & Co. to spend a lot more time focusing on Microsoft monumental security problems and its strategy to combat its seemingly endless parade of patches.

That doesnt mean BillG wont be doing his usual show-and-tell with forthcoming gadgets and gizmos, like next-gen Tablets, smart watches, personal-media players and the like. After all, every year since 2000, Microsofts chief software architect beat the drum for tablet-style devices, even though Microsoft didnt launch the Tablet OS officially until a year ago. In 2001, Gates made the Tablet PC the centerpiece of his Comdex address. Last year, while the Smart Personal Objects Technology (SPOT) devices stole the limelight, Tablets were still a hot button for Gates in his annual Comdex remarks.

This year, Gates is expected to take the wraps off "Lonestar," likely to be named Windows XP Tablet PC Edition 2004. As company execs noted recently, Lonestar is on tap to debut by mid-2004. (An early version of the Lonestar software development kit was announced at the Professional Developers conference late last month.)

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