PC Expo show report: day one

But first, an interesting development: Big Tent Media Labs has hired Joseph R. Jones, a graphic artist and Web developer from Phoenix. Joe will be redesigning all of our Web sites and helping me with the technical work at Big Tent. Expect to see more of Joe's writing on the Web site and in WinInfo. Joe has had a long and successful career with the Internet despite the fact that he's younger than he deserves to be. He came with us to New York as well, joining Adam Ray, the president of Big Tent, and I for the show.

We flew into Pennsylvania Sunday afternoon and drove to New York with Howard Sobel and Joel Diamond of Wugnet. This was my first trip to New York in almost ten years, but its as crazy as ever. Generally the Wugnet guys try to stay near the show but this year's event was so huge most of the hotel rooms in the area were sold out. Consequently, we had to stay at the St. Moritz Hotel, which overlooks Central Park. In hindsight, this actually worked out pretty well: we have a great view of the park and we're only a short cab ride away from anything. Joe and I checked out the park and walked over to Rockefeller Center last night and then met up with Larry McJunkin, also of Wugnet, and ate dinner in Times Square. As you would expect, it was another late night.

So we missed the keynotes again.

Michael Dell promised that his company would release a full line of easily managed personal computers this year, including a NetPC Microsoft demoed at the show, during his keynote address this first day of PC Expo. Dell also announced his unfaltering support of Microsoft-based PCs: "The outcome of Unix vs. NT has been determined, and NT has won," he declared (no doubt due to his company's generous OEM deal).

Don't tell Apple's Helen Hancock, however. The company's Chief Technology Officer previewed MacOS 8 and Rhapsody for the PC-heavy crowd at her own keynote address and committed the company to cross-platform development and support of Java. Apple's Rhapsody will ship in native Intel and Windows 95/NT subset versions next year along with a PowerPC version and a "yellow box" add-on for the MacOS. The "yellow box" is essentially an updated version of NeXT's OpenStep APIs.

We arrived at the show around noon and headed into the throng. PC Expo is about as large as Fall Comdex (i.e. it's much, much bigger than Spring Comdex). Just about every conceivable software and hardware company is here so we spent the first day taking in an overview. Some of the interesting developments today include:

  • Sony is releasing a series of VAIO laptops this year. They are very    slim, light, and attractive. Despite Sony's unsuccessful foray into the    PC world, these portables look great.
  • LG Electronics is finally releasing their Windows CE handheld computer.    Dubbed the "Phenom," the device contains 8 MB of Flash ROM to facilitate    OS upgrades. Unfortunately, none of this can be used for other software,    rendering it somewhat useless in my opinion. The Phenom does, however,    include an integrated 28.8 modem. It's an attractive machine.
  • Intergraph was showing off a proprietary 3 monitor system running a    special photo-realistic flight simulator. The system was based around    two 4-processor Pentium Pros running Windows NT. Don't expect Intergraph    to license this technology for entertainment, however: most of their    business is high-end engineering workstations.
  • Toshiba displayed their Libretto "sub-sub-notebook," a 5" by 3.5" Pentium 75 with an LCD display and 16 MB of RAM running Windows 95. I'd love to tell you more about this impressive device, but Toshiba's ham-handed marketing team couldn't steer me toward a press kit.
  • Microsoft Internet Information Server will be shipping in public beta    form on June 20th, in just two days, according to John Brossard.
  • Microsoft will release an IntelliMouse-like trackball this year with the    same middle wheel.
  • NEC has released a new version of their MobilePro Windows CE-based    handheld computer, the 450. The MobilePro 450 features a backlit screen    and a new dock with a stylus holder. I'm pretty jealous since my    MobilePro is not backlit.
  • Apple was showing off a late copy of Rhapsody running on Intel. This    version features the MacOS windows and menu bar with NeXTStep-style    user interface elements. Folks, it looks sweet. Apple was nice enough    to supply me with an exclusive digital camera photo of the OS and I'll    post it on the Web site when I return. I'm on the Rhapsody beta now,    too, so I should have more news about this in the future.
  • In other Apple news, the company announced a new version of the PowerBook 1400 that includes an integrated solar panel "book cover" that recharges the machine as you use it. Very cool. They were also showing off the 20th Anniversary Macintosh, which is in a league of it's own.
Well, I've got a group of hungry people waiting to eat here, so I'd better head out. Tomorrow, I'll have news about Monday's parties and more show news
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