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Europe kicks off surrogate Comdex

Microsoft's IT Forum, the preferred destination for European tech geeks who don't have the budget to go to Comdex, opens in Copenhagen.

COPENHAGEN, Denmark--Microsoft's IT Forum, the preferred destination for European tech geeks who don?t have the budget to go to Comdex Fall 2002, opened here Tuesday.

The software giant's enterprise trade show will feature the first European preview of Windows .Net Server, the successor to its Windows 2000 Server operating system, as well as the test version of Systems Management Server 2003, a software server aimed at systems administrators.

Microsoft kicked off the show with 90 minutes of demonstrations highlighting the company's newest applications such as its Tablet PC and Smartphone software.

"We want to make it real," said Robbie Ray Wright, director of mobility at Microsoft. "Our goal is to make everybody say 'Aha!'"

Using wireless carrier Orange's SPV phone, Wright demonstrated Microsoft's Smartphone software that, among other things, allows people to watch videos and download Pac-Man games onto their phones. The audience also was shown applications delivered on handhelds, such as a real estate system that lets agents search for properties, fetch images of them, and make offers on behalf of a customer from a Pocket PC.

Microsoft used the IT Forum to tout its revamped Outlook and introduced XSO, an unreleased application that enables collaboration between Office and other software. For instance, a travel Web site would be able to communicate with Microsoft's Exchange Server e-mail system, suggesting appointments and updating them according to changes made in flights or accommodation. Wright said that the company is "working hard" to get XSO out to consumers after Exchange launches.

The IT Forum also featured Microsoft's Content Management Server 2002, software that helps businesses create and maintain Web content. The product, part of Microsoft's .Net e-business software, competes with technology from software makers, such as Documentum, Interwoven and Vignette, in the growing market for managing Web content.

ZDNet UK's Peter Judge reported from Copenhagen.