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Gates gets serious about spam, security

Comdex crowd smaller, but still like gadgets

Microsoft's Bill Gates at Comdex
Microsoft's Bill Gates at Comdex

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LAS VEGAS, Nevada (CNN) -- Spam, security and getting high-tech devices to communicate with each other are among the major challenges for the technology world, Microsoft's Bill Gates said at the annual Comdex technology convention.

For the 20th year, Gates, chairman and chief software architect of the Seattle-based software company, presented the keynote address at Comdex.

He told an audience of about 7,000 in Las Vegas that development has started on the next generation of Windows, code named "Longhorn."

"Longhorn is a very ambitious piece of work," Gates said.

"We're not even giving you a time-frame. In fact, a lot of people who got the prototype code said, 'Hey this looks pretty good. Gee, you must be close to getting this done.' Because of all the integration and the extreme high level of quality, there's still quite a bit to be done."

Gates also said both technology and legal efforts may help curb spam, the unsolicited e-mails that clog inboxes and create headaches for Information Technology departments.

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He said Microsoft is using a tool called Smart Screen to determine the difference between legitimate mail and spam.

"So Smart Screen is going to be in every mail thing we do, MSN, Hotmail, in Outlook: So that's a very big step forward there," he said.

Comdex has taken on many different looks since its 1979 inception. Once a show for hard-core techies, it exploded during the dotcom bubble, with crowds reaching 200,000.

This year, a re-designed show seems less about glitz and more about business.

Workers race to finish exhibits at the Comdex conference in Las Vegas.
Workers race to finish exhibits at the Comdex conference in Las Vegas.

"There won't be any car companies or massage chairs. The new Comdex is a multi-dimensional educational forum," said Eric Faurot, Comdex vice-president and general manager. Attendance is expected to be between 40,000 and 50,000.

The show, which runs through Thursday, is focused on seven themes: Wireless and Mobility, The Digital Enterprise, Web Services, Open Source and Linux, Windows Platform, On-Demand Computing and Security.

Regardless of Comdex changes, die-hard techies still come for the cool gadgets.

Some 550 companies will show off everything from laptop computers with real 3-D display to wristwatches that can hold 100 phone numbers and 500 e-mail addresses.

A robotics "petting zoo" is scheduled Tuesday; with robots that can perform search and rescue at a disaster site and others that can water plants while the owners' are on vacation.


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