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Stealing the show

The Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas saw hundreds of new IT products unveiled. Microsoft proved to be a big draw with several launches across the board.

Microsoft stole the show at January’s International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.

CES is an American showcase for the movers and shakers of the consumer technology industry – and international content media, delivery and hardware specialists took the opportunity to demonstrate the market’s latest consumer applications. Previous shows have featured the historic unveiling of legendary kit such as the VCR (1970), the CD player (1981) and the DVD in 1996. Among the highlights of this year’s event were the introduction of Empire Hero’s hands-free digital mouse, Symbol’s pocket-sized Laser Projection Display, and Norh Tech’s remarkably silent and small Panda PC.

But the single company with probably most to be pleased about was Microsoft. The software giant took the opportunity to introduce a whole range of new products and technologies. Along with Smart Personal Objects Technology (SPOT) and a new prototype personal media player platform codenamed Media2Go, Microsoft finally unveiled the Windows Media Player 9 Series, the Microsoft Plus! Digital Media Edition, new laptop Media Centre PCs running the Windows XP Media Centre Edition, and an addition to the Xbox game series.
Microsoft chairman Bill Gates used a January 8 speech to declare his happiness with the company’s recent performance. He pointed to better-than-expected sales of Xbox Live, the recent Good Housekeeping Seal earned by MSN 8, and the availability of the first DVD players to support the new HighMAT technology.

The Windows XP Media Centre Edition PCs on display included new products from Toshiba and Gateway. Windows XP Media Centre Edition delivers all the power of Windows XP plus new features for watching TV, managing music, playing DVDs, and more. Notebook configurations for the Media Centre PC aim to give users the flexibility to enjoy a fully integrated digital entertainment experience on a portable device.

The launch of Microsoft Windows Media 9 Series was confirmed on January 7. This digital media platform is designed to provide dramatically improved playback, audio and video quality. In conjunction with this release, Microsoft launched a new licensing programme for Windows Media Audio and Video 9 Series.
Microsoft also announced that MSN 8 had received the Good Housekeeping Seal. This marks the first time in the Seal's 100-year history that an internet software product has been recognised by the Good Housekeeping Institute.

The other major announcement from Gates was his unveiling of the first of this year's line-up of new video games for the Xbox console – featuring Los Angeles Laker basketball star Shaquille O'Neal Midtown Madness 3, scheduled for release in April.

, "Midtown Madness 3" is the latest version of the highly successful "Midtown Madness" series, putting gamers’ driving skills to the test as they race around the streets of Paris and Washington D.C.
The unveiling of Midtown Madness 3 follows a highly successful holiday season for Xbox. According to the market research firm NPD Group Inc., Xbox achieved its best month of the year for console sales in November. November also marked the seventh straight month in which Xbox sales outpaced sales of the Nintendo GameCube. Xbox Live, the first comprehensive online game arena dedicated to fast-action broadband gaming experiences, also proved to be an instant success. Following its November debut, sales of the Xbox Live Starter Kit not only exceeded Microsoft’s own expectations; they also outpaced first-month sales of the PlayStation 2's online gaming Network Adapter by 86 percent.

Gateway Media Center PC with Windows XP Media Center Edition.

As for products being announced, you should see quite a lot happening over the next few week with the announcements out of CES in vegas.
PLEASE treat this as embargoed news - it will be announced from Monday - Thurs.
Tentative list will include......
· Unveiling of the first product – a radio-enabled wristwatch - from the Smart Personal Objects Technology Group (SPOT)
· Mobile Devices Division will announce availability of its Smartphone and Pocket PC software for CDMA networks and also unveil the Samsung i700, a wireless Pocket PC with one of the first integrated picture messaging cameras for CDMA networks and Hitachi's Multimedia Communicator NC1, the first-ever Pocket PC with integrated keyboard and digital camera coupled with integrated wireless and phone capabilities.
· Digital Media Division will make several announcements around the final availability of Windows Media 9 Series, Windows Movie Maker 2 and Plus! Digital Media Edition. Within the Windows Media 9 Series platform announcement will be a new Windows Media Format component licensing program, enabling high-quality digital media on all hardware and software platforms at highly attractive and transparent terms. The Windows Digital Media Division will also make a joint announcement with Sony Pictures to encode Sony's movie catalogs in WM9 Series going forward.
· Retail availability of the first Smart Displays from ViewSonic. In addition, we will announce that the first Philips Smart Displays will be available the first week of February and that Samsung Electronics and BenQ Corp have committed to developing these devices.
· Several SPOT-enabled wristwatches with partners Fossil Inc., Suunto Oy and Citizen Watch Co., Ltd. With consumer-friendly features such as customizable watch faces, atomic accuracy, access to personal messages and appointments, and the ability to receive up-to-date news, traffic, weather and sports information, the watches, scheduled for fall 2003 availability, represent the first wave of smart objects, which extend the power of personal computing in a natural and fashionable way.
· Embedded team will announce Media2Go, a new consumer device platform based on Windows CE .NET. Media2Go delivers high-quality digital audio, video and photos on portable devices.
· Windows eHome Division will announce new consumer solutions for Windows® XP Media Center Edition, including laptop configurations from Toshiba’s Computer Systems Group and Alienware Corp. OEM support from ViewSonic Corp., iBUYPOWER Computer and Tagar Systems will also be announced.
· MSN 8 has earned the prestigious Good Housekeeping Seal. This honor to MSN 8 marks the first time in the Seal's 100-year history that an Internet software product has been recognized by the Good Housekeeping Institute.
· Auto Business Unit will announce that Microsoft's Windows Automotive software is fueling the new high-end infotainment device in the European Fiat Lancia Thesis. Together with Siemens VDO Automotive, Microsoft developed a robust in-vehicle software system. We will also announce that along with industry partners, we outfitted a Toyota Sequoia with a host of today's hottest technologies - including in-dash systems like the Clarion Joyride, a Windows Powered Pocket PC Phone Edition, the recently launched Windows Powered Smartphone, and an Xbox in the back seat, to give drivers and passengers a glimpse of the technology that will make their lives easier today.
· Mobile Devices Division will announce end-to-end personal e-mail solutions from partners Commtag, Infowave, Spontaneous Technology, Visto and ViAir that will enable corporate users to sync, send and receive e-mail on their wirelessly enabled Pocket PCs and Smartphones (without intervention from their IT departments) as well as provide secure access to their information behind corporate firewalls.
· Windows Digital Media Division will make a joint announcement with Panasonic on the first consumer electronic devices to have built-in support of the new HighMAT technology and other hardware and software manufacturers who are announcing support for HighMAT in future products. WDMD will also announce that over 200 CE devices now support Windows Media, highlighting new DVD players and car stereos from leading OEMs including Alpine, Pioneer, Apex Digital, Panasonic, LG Electronics and others.
You can follow all of the above over the course of the week at http://www.microsoft.com/presspass.
General software releases will include .Net server in april time (I don’t have the definite date to hand) Watch this space for any more!!

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