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Despite being smaller and less well attended than in previous years, Comdex Fall is still the most important IT show in the US calendar, able to draw the strongest line-up of IT's glitterati for its keynote presentations.
This year, as in previous years, top billing went to Gates who unveiled prototypes of the portable Tablet PC, which will run a version of Windows XP, the Tablet PC Edition. He claimed that these devices, due out next year, will become the most popular form of PC within five years.
Gates demonstrated prototypes from hardware manufacturers, including Compaq and Acer, which run a variety of new software applications. One application, called Journal, blends Microsoft's Word software with handwriting recognition capabilities. Microsoft has also promised a new version of its productivity suite Office XP in time for the Tablet PC's launch.
To balance Microsoft, space is usually reserved for an address from its bitterest opponents. This year it was Ellison, who demonstrated that Oracle's products run faster than those from Microsoft and gave out mugs carrying Oracle's new marketing slogan, "Unbreakable".
Other cups read, "Microsoft: Software for the fragile business. Caution: Does not work with Java". This was in reply to Microsoft which last year, during Ellison's speech, gave away mugs claiming record-breaking speed and performance for Microsoft's databases.
The product chosen as best of show went to Fujitsu's Lifebook P Series, which has yet to be launched in Europe. The ultra light notebook uses a low voltage Transmeta chip and gives six hours of battery life.