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Hot off the Press - News & Commentary
Monday, 05/04/05 by the Mercury News

Bill Gates touts Xbox and takes jabs at Apple

SEATTLE - An uncharacteristically relaxed, witty Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates gave a wide-ranging talk Monday about the future of technological innovation, while dropping hints about the company's coming Xbox game system and taking mild shots at Apple Computer's rival operating system.

Gates offered his predictions of coming technology trends and addressed a variety of other topics Monday in Seattle at the annual gathering of the Society of American Business Editors and Writers.

During the prepared portion of his remarks, Gates said a number of factors -- both highly visible and ``under the covers'' -- would spur the next wave of technological innovation. He predicted that the widespread use of extensible markup language, or XML, would allow for easier exchange of documents on the Web and a greater level of interoperability between software.

The advent of 64-bit microprocessors -- which have greater memory and twice the computational power of the previous generation of chips -- will accelerate the use of video over the Internet, 3-D games and computer performance that will feel ``limitless.''

Gates said these ``plumbing'' improvements will be accompanied by advances that are more obvious to everyday consumers. He predicted the advent this year of high-definition computer screens for computers, which offer more vivid, color-rich images. And he foresaw a greater range of portable devices, like Microsoft's slow-selling tablet PC, that allow data to travel seamlessly from computer desktop to device.

All these technical advances will lead to increasing realism in the coming generation of console games, such as the new Xbox 360 to be unveiled later this month at the Electronic Entertainment Expo video game trade show in Los Angeles.

Gates predicted telecommunications would continue to evolve -- with instant messaging services supporting video conferencing (ala Apple's iChat) or cellular phones that indicate what technologists refer to as ``presence.'' That means callers will know, in advance, whether you're available to talk.

In response to questions, Gates couldn't resist the temptation to respond to Apple Computer Chief Executive Steve Jobs' persistent jabs at Microsoft's Windows operating system with its launch of the latest version of Apple's OS X upgrade, dubbed ``Tiger.''

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``We saw a lot of excitement about the Apple OS,'' said Gates. ``They're the super small-market guy. They get all these statements about them. I thought this was great. Here it is the general press writing about operating systems.''
Gates said that Microsoft's successor to the Windows XP operating system, code-named ``Longhorn,'' will have similar state-of-the-art advances also found in Apple's OS X Tiger update, such as desktop search and support for high-definition video images.

``You can always tell whether you're on a Mac or on a PC,'' said Gates, his voice taking a mischievous tone. ``Just stick your applications in there and see whether they'll run.''

Gates obvioulsy referring to the many reports of bugs in recently released OS X 10.4 "Tiger" as reported on sites like macfixit.com where problems like this were flodding in. -

"Mac OS X 10.4 (Tiger) #8: Wake-from-sleep issues, solutions; More on Spotlight limitations; Mail.app 2.0 solutions; more:"

"Wake-from-sleep issues continued We continue to receive reports from readers whose Mac OS X 10.4-upgraded systems will not wake properly from sleep, either refusing to wake completely or freezing upon wake-up."

"Confirmation for device removal As noted yesterday, errant devices (or devices, one way or another, in conflict with a Mac OS X 10.4 installation) can cause problems with waking from sleep."

"Spotlight: Invisible files functionality lacking, alternatives As noted yesterday, Spotlight, in its current form, refuses to find invisible files. Although the user can set a criterion to search for both visible and invisible files, or invisible files only (through the Finder-based method of accessing Spotlight), no files are found.
While we haven't yet found a solution to this issue, you can still view invisible files with the aid of an file browser like Kilometre or Invisible Finder."

"Mail.app 2.0 We continue to cover a number of issues with Mail.app 2.0, included with Mac OS X 10.4, including sluggish performance, problems importing old mail, and issues with IMAP servers."

Gates coyly predicted that Microsoft's new Xbox 360 video game console, code-named Xenon, would put greater pressure on Sony Computer Entertainment, maker of the market-leading PlayStationt 2. He said the first-generation Xbox was intended simply to gain credibility and the right to ``play again'' in the battle for over living room entertainment. Indeed, it replaced venerable console-maker Nintendo to claim the No. 2 spot in the video game market.

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