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Gates shows new mouse, Windows 2000

Microsoft chief executive Bill Gates is back in a familiar role: chief pitchman for the company's upcoming products and new technology.

CHICAGO--Microsoft chief executive Bill Gates was back in a familiar role this morning as chief pitchman for the company's upcoming products and new technology.

Gates debuted a new Microsoft mouse, and demonstrated the company's forthcoming Windows 2000 operating system during a keynote at the Comdex/Spring and Windows World trade show here.

New Windows 2000 features demonstrated by Gates included a new file format for storing digital camera images, and additional tools for managing files, bandwidth, and data synchronization. Microsoft is expected to ship the oft-delayed operating system in October.

Gates also reiterated Microsoft's intention Microsoft IntelliMouse
Explorer to target the knowledge management software market, which will put the company on a collision course with IBM subsidiary Lotus.

During the speech, Gates also retooled the company's marketing message. He said Microsoft is moving beyond the mantra that has guided his company since 1975: "A computer on every desk and in every home."

The new message? "[With Windows 2000], we intend to step back and expand to any device, anytime, anywhere. It's having the power where you want it," Gates said.

Gates said the company's IntelliMouse Explorer uses optical technology in place of the mechanical ball and other moving parts of the company's current mouse, allowing it to track movements on any surface without the need for a mouse pad.

Gates said the new mouse will begin shipping in September and will become widely available by October. No pricing was announced. The gray colored IntelliPoint Explorer includes two more buttons than the standard mouse today. These can be customized to handle different tasks, like print and save, or browsing controls.

Gates continues to tout his company's interests in the knowledge management software market.

"Knowledge management applications will make it so the information in your email system, scheduler, and desktop can be accessed and shared. With the next releases of Office and Exchange soon after Windows 2000 we're revolutionizing how you'll work," he said.

He pointed to enhanced voice technology and real-time collaboration as ways in which Microsoft will be making headway in the knowledge management area.

Gates also announced a corporate preview program for Windows 2000, along with new training programs for developers.

The appearance at the annual trade show was a welcome respite from the company's continuing antitrust trial. Attorneys from both Microsoft and the Justice Department are attempting to work out a settlement in the case. The trial is on recess until at least May 10.

Last week, in a speech at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Gates said the integrity of Microsoft's Windows operating system and the freedom to innovate are two key principles that must guide any settlement in the Justice Department's antitrust lawsuit against the software behemoth.