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Comdex coverage by CNN and

Bill Gates is Mr. Popular at Comdex

November 16, 1998
Web posted at: 7:46 PM PT

by Alex Lash

(IDG) -- Despite legal troubles and tell-all books, Microsoft Chairman and CEO Bill Gates remains king of the Comdex jungle. With the coveted Sunday-night "kickoff party" keynote slot, Gates soothed the huge crowd with his gee-whiz optimism for the computing future, salted with gentle notes of caution about online privacy and the need to make computers easier to use.

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The only mention of Microsoft's mounting legal troubles came during a five-minute video that humorously logged the company's travails of the past 12 months, starting with a clip of Attorney General Janet Reno announcing the Justice Department's lawsuit. Also included were the recent "tell-all" books The Microsoft Files and Barbarians Led By Bill Gates, the Brill's Content magazine cover story about Microsoft's PR spin machine, a clip of the Belgian pie attack, and a vicious fight between claymation figures of Gates and Lord of the Dance, Michael Flatley.

A high-tech keynote wouldn't be complete without long-winded demonstrations of the host company's latest developments, and this was no exception. The main breakthrough Gates touted was ClearType, a new font-display technology that will be added to Windows 98 next year and included in Windows 2000 and Windows CE. According to Microsoft, it will make fonts more readable onscreen and lower the barrier to mass adoption of electronic books, a format that's just barely hit the market. Microsoft wants Windows CE to power the emerging format as well as other non-PC devices.

At a press reception after the keynote, Gates told a throng of reporters that ClearType was developed completely in-house, with no collaboration from graphics powerhouse Adobe or other outside companies. He also said that ClearType will benefit the display of Kanji and Arabic more distinctly than Latinate languages.

Microsoft continues its Comdex blitz Monday with a grandiose celebration of its new database, SQL 7.0, for which the company has hired the Cirque Du Soleil to perform.

Sunday night, Gates' helpers demonstrated tight integration between the new SQL and the upcoming Office 2000 application suite. At a time when "integration of products" is a term loaded with legal baggage, Microsoft's continued move to weave its operating systems, Internet software and server software more tightly together shows no sign of slowing down.

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