Microsoft Introduces New Consumer Electronics-Plus Era

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Event Summary

LAS VEGAS, Jan. 5 /PRNewswire/ -- In a keynote address at CES 2000 International, Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT - news) Chairman and CEO Bill Gates demonstrated a new era in consumer electronics that will give consumers personalized, convenient access to their favorite music, news, entertainment, family photos, personal calendars and e-mail through an array of consumer electronics including televisions, telephones, home and car stereos, and Pocket PCs, from almost any location. (Source: Microsoft Corp).

Market Impact

Microsoft is reintroducing the flailing Windows CE device as the 'Pocket PC' to kick off the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). Over the past two years 3Com's Palm Pilot has captured over 70% of PDA sales, requiring Microsoft to go back to the drawing board. The result has been a full software update to the product's operating system. The new CE operating system will potentially be implemented on a wide array of consumer electronics, from car stereos to cellular phones to household appliances.

The train of thought is that consumers will be able to access electronic messaging, video conferencing and streaming audio and video for television access. Bill Gates would like to empower the consumer to be able to access his/her e-mail and multimedia needs at any time, from anywhere, from any device. However, do not expect to see this all happen in the year 2000, because a significant amount of software development must occur and standards must be decided upon prior to generic consumer electronic integration.

User Recommendations

Do not be overly anxious to acquire this new technology. Wait for it to be fully integrated into a wide array of products prior to making an investment in something that may never be fully functional. A consumer can already retrieve e-mail from virtually anywhere with a wide array of wireless PDAs, cellular phones and even over a standard phone line with Text-to-Speech recognition software. Do we really need to watch television in our car? Probably not. Home automation and security are indeed byproducts of advanced technology, but it is advanced technology and not without flaws. We expect a full 24 month incubation period prior to seeing fully compliant appliances available.

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