COMDEX, the largest technology event in the U.S. opened at the Las Vegas convention center. The attendance was noticeably smaller than the show in recent years, thanks largely to a series of challenges facing the global technology sector. Down from the 200,000 the show drew at its height in March 2000 (when it was purchased by Fred Rosen of Key3Media, who previously founded and later sold TickectMaster). The major vendors are Microsoft, Samsung, Cisco, IBM, Nokia, Dell and HP who all realize how important this venue is to the technology industry and also the importance of marketing in difficult times to take market share from the competition.

The major company that was absent this year was Sony, which did not go unnoticed by many of the attendees.

The major buzz at COMDEX was all around the tablet PC. The Tablet PC has just been released by many of the sponsors of the event and according to Gates will usher in a Ditigal Decade.

"During the course of the Digital Decade, we'll think about personal computing in a different way. Sitting in front of that desktop PC is just a piece of what we'll do in the future. After all, the magic of the chip that brings intelligence and the magic of software are now spreading out to all different devices. Those devices are connecting up in very flexible ways. Small devices, whether they're pocket- sized or wrist-sized, tablet-sized, wallet-sized, all of these things will come together to provide a deeply changed and exciting experience." That was Bill Gates’ message during his annual state of the industry address to kickoff COMDEX Fall 2002 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

Gates reflected on the past year and commented on the positives, the continued improvements in price and performance. He said, "You know Moore's Law is still hard at work. For the next decade, the things that allowed the chip to improve so rapidly still are there benefiting consumers. It makes it a very competitive business, because all of that extra capability improves price/performance."

The advent of the Tablet PC and the arrival of wireless, particularly the 802.11 WI- FI wireless is a sign of the digital decade. Gates mentioned, "Even when you're out in convention centers or airports or anywhere that business people spend much time; there will be easy, inexpensive connections to get the high speed capabilities that WI- FI provides. WI-FI has succeeded partly because it's low cost. It doesn't have the per minute charges. Installing WI-FI into the home is now just a bit over $100 of investment, and it's getting easier to secure, easier to set up."

Beyond extending personal computing down to devices that most people would have expected, was just one of the many advances that are in the future. "The idea of tools that do a better job of making it easy to take a model of an application and build the software around that, the idea of taking the disparate storage we've got in our systems – registry, photo stores, music stores, mail stores, Web page stores – and bringing those together in a single rich store with a deep programming model, that's part of the vision of our next major release of Windows we call Longhorn," he told the crowd.

"Building real-time communications so that the relationship between the phone and the PC is very different than it is today, letting people collaborate, work together on the screen, no matter where they're located; plenty of things that we can do to pursue this fundamental idea of creating tools that help people realize potential."

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