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Tom Brokaw kicks off Windows Server launch

The former NBC Nightly News anchor precedes CEO Steve Ballmer at Microsoft's big server event at the Nokia Theater in downtown Los Angeles.

LOS ANGELES--Microsoft brought out former NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw on Wednesday to kick off the launch of Windows Server 2008.

In explaining his appearance at a server launch, Brokaw said he was trying to redeem himself after his recent Saturday Night Live appearance, in which he was interviewed by Will Farrell as Anchorman character Ron Burgundy.

Tom Brokaw speaks at the outset of the Windows Server 2008 launch. Ina Fried/CNET

"I'm not here to write new code, to design new apps," Brokaw told the crowd at the tony Nokia Theater in downtown Los Angeles. Instead, Brokaw spoke for several minutes on the radical transformation of society being brought about by technology.

Brokaw pointed to an NYU doctor that will soon program remotely a cochlear implant for a child in East Africa and a farmer in America's heartland that tracks global commodity prices from his computer in order to ensure he can produce a profitable crop.

He also talked about the limits of technology, saying that we can't hit delete to end global poverty or backspace to erase the effects of global warming.

"Technology alone is not the answer," Brokaw said. "It will do little good to wire the world if we short-circuit our conscience."

Microsoft is using the event to formally launch Windows Server 2008, Visual Studio 2008 and SQL Server 2008, although that last product's release has been pushed back until the third quarter of this year.

The software maker also detailed several other server products including its version for computing clusters, Windows HP Server 2008, which is slated for the second half of the year and Windows Storage Server 2008, also due out before year's end.