January 6, 2008 6:31 PM PST

Gates: Curtain call for crystal ball

Gates: Curtain call for crystal ball
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January 4, 2008
LAS VEGAS--Bill Gates may be stepping away from full-time work later this year, but he still has a few things he wants to show off.

In his annual Consumer Electronics Show address, the Microsoft chairman demonstrated a slew of fashionable PCs, and touted the role of computing interfaces like speech and touch, as well as announced a partnership with NBC to jointly run the site for the Olympics.

"This is my last (CES) keynote," Gates told the audience, noting that this is the first time since he was 17 that he doesn't have a full-time job at Microsoft. "What do you do on your last day?" he asked.

Gates, who is shifting to part-time work at Microsoft later this year, also used the speech to note that his software company has now shipped 100 million copies of Windows Vista.

He said that getting so many Vista PCs out will make the platform more attractive. "That's a very significant milestone for application development and specialized hardware work."

In a deal finalized just before the keynote, meanwhile, Microsoft has signed on BT Group as the first company to use the Xbox 360 as an IPTV set-top box. Gates announced plans for the game console to act as a set-top box at last year's CES.

BT Vision, which combines gaming and Microsoft's Mediaroom IPTV service, will be available to customers in the middle of 2008, Microsoft said.

Gates CES

Gates' CES address has become an annual tradition, a sort of tech industry State of the Union, though this may well be his last year for some time.

The annual event is Microsoft's opportunity to lay out its vision of where technology is headed and make the case for its approach, as contrasted with that of rivals such as Apple and Sony.

Not all of the products touted by Gates, however, have become smash hits. Past keynote addresses have introduced Tablet PCs and various digital household objects that have yet to become mainstream.

Last year, Gates used his appearance to show, among other things, Windows Home Server.

This year, Gates' most notable gadget is a "mobile navigator" that can be used to point at a person or place, and get more information. The software powering the technology exists within Microsoft's research labs, but Gates doesn't see this device coming to market as a standalone product. Rather, some of these capabilities are likely to find their way into other gadgets, such as cameras and phones.

In the more near-term realm, Microsoft said Samsung will start offering an adapter that lets its flat-screen TVs act as Media Center extenders. That lets the TVs show videos, pictures, and music stored on a Vista PC in another room.

As for PCs, Microsoft plans to show off a new Lamborghini laptop from Asus, as well as Lenovo's new IdeaPad consumer laptop line, which includes a model that uses flash memory rather than a hard drive for storage.

Bill Gates and Slash
Credit: Corinne Schulze/CNET News.com
Guns N' Roses guitarist Slash plays the part
of Gates' Guitar Hero ringer.

Gates also showed off the role that speech and touch will play in the future. Microsoft has a new concept application for its Surface computer that shows how the product can tie into Windows Live services and other devices.

Gates used the tabletop Surface PC to design a custom snowboard and then send the design to his Windows mobile phone. His design included "Bill!" on the underside.

"I've got something that looks pretty good," Gates said.

Ever the fan of speech recognition technology, Gates demonstrated how mobile search can be improved by combining GPS (Global Positioning System) data with Tellme's speech recognition technology.

Entertainment and Devices unit head Robbie Bach joined Gates on stage to talk Xbox and Zune, among other things. On the Xbox front, Microsoft touted a number of statistics, including the fact that it has sold more than 17.7 million consoles, as well as the fact that the Xbox 360 has generated far more sales of games and accessories than rival consoles. Microsoft also has 10 million subscribers to its Xbox Live service.

Microsoft is also touting sales of two recent game releases. Its blockbuster, Halo 3, has sold more than 8.1 million copies since its September launch, while Mass Effect has sold 1.6 million copies in the six weeks since its launch.

CONTINUED: IPTV and the Olympics…
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85 comments

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Waiting for MacWorld Expo
This is all pretty boring. I'm waiting for MacWorld. That'll show off some truely innovative products.
Posted by coryschulz (326 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Thanks?
You should wipe your mouth off you have something hanging on the end of it...

Why comment if you truly have nothing to say other then "Apple is teh awesome!"

Sync looks like it could be quite cool but having it in only Ford, not so good.

MS surface is cool but i believe they talked about this at last CES. I don't know if this will ever be on the consumer side as its still quite expensive, maybe in a smaller device with less features?

Zune has proven its not dead yet and more and more people are getting into it and there's actually advertising for it now as well.

There was a recent firmware update that supposed to fix performance and battery issues for Zune 1 and 2.

Vista, ah yes people love to bash this OS over and over, truly there was a lot of mistakes on this but sp1 has shown its not too late to fix some of them. Sure you can use third party programs to do a lot of the things in vista but everyone I have tried (all freeware) dog my pc down to a crawl. Whereas having vista installed there isnt any slowdown with all the extra goodies. Also with a fast enough pc, Vista runs like a dream but then again if the next version of Windows relies on faster equipment to escape buggy code, They will lose even more support and may finally cause someone else to push ahead to make a difference, We'll see.

It'll be interesting to see without Gates what MS will become.
Posted by krushyou (92 comments )
Link Flag
MacWorld v. CES
It's like you're waiting for a get together of juice and cookies with your friends after school, versus the new year's celebration in Times Square.

Even if 95% of CES is crap and MacWorld rocks, there's STILL more cool stuff at CES.

Lay off the Kool-Aid a bit, with the brown off the lips, whatever metaphor you prefer...
Posted by KTLA_knew (385 comments )
Link Flag
Mac fanboy's attempt at dismissal of anything MS...yawn
end of message
Posted by jamie.p.walsh (288 comments )
Link Flag
While everyone complains that this was an obvious Mac fanboi comment (which it was), I was silently agreeing with it. I have no particular animosity towards Gates or Windows, but this genuinely was boring stuff, and I genuinely usually do see more interesting launches at MacWorld. If that makes me a fanboi too, well, so be it.
Posted by retrosteve (14 comments )
Link Flag
NBC Olympic coverage sucks
Maybe a bit off topic but the quote:
"Events like this in the broadcast format just aren't as satisfying, as great as we'll make the Olympics," Gates said.

Only illustrates how poor the coverage is by NBC. They fill their broadcast with so much marketing that the event is an afterthought. They don't cover many events live and so they wait for results and only show events where a US athlete wins and ignore the rest.

The worst coverage by NBC comes when the event is held in a timezone which makes live viewing harder. They don't even bother to try showing it live. If you are a fan of the Olympics and are willing to stay up and watch an event at 2am you better have access to some foreign broadcasters because on NBC you will likely be seeing a late night infomercial.

So with coverage like that it's no wonder Gates would say that the broadcast format isn't satisfying. If you want to watch a sport that isn't being covered by NBC or listen to the silly reporters talk then the online video is your next best option.

If you want to stay up until 4am watching live sports then you better find yourself a way of getting Canadian CBC broadcasts or Australias seven, or British BBC, or China Central TV, etc.
Posted by Que.Ball (29 comments )
Reply Link Flag
NBC & Silverlight
Gates shilled for Silverlight, Microsoft's "Flash killer," and
announced that NBC

this would be the SAME NBC who years ago adopted the MII 1/2"
video tape format, based on VHS, as opposed to Sony's Beta
format based on Betamax. I doubt you can even find a working
MII machine at NBC anymore, but I can promise you there are
still hundreds of broadcast beta machines there now.

NBC doesn't really doesn't have a good track record with cutting
edge tech. No doubt MS has paid them millions to use this for
the Olympics.
Posted by jltnol (85 comments )
Link Flag
Crystal Ball
Has Gates proved prescient about anything? Anybody out there
keeping track of his predictions? ...and the Xbox is still bleeding
money, this is a success?
Posted by maccam--2008 (19 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Sorry it is profitable
You may have missed the new's but the XBOX turned profitable already.
Posted by wolivere (780 comments )
Link Flag
Yeh, your right
MS loses money on their predictions so much that they posted "net profit was $3.04 billion, or 31 cents per diluted share, in its fiscal fourth quarter, up from $2.83 billion, or 28 cents per diluted share, a year earlier. Sales rose 13 percent to $13.4 billion." or for those that can't interpret, that is over $1 billion a month PROFIT!! Yeh, Bill don't know squat. lol
Posted by suyts (824 comments )
Link Flag
Gates head is very deep in the sand....
and he does not want to get it out. He sold a lot of Vista, that I can agree with. What is not said is that all those Vista sales where FORCED on the unsuspecting public. Hey Bill: would you like to bet my paycheck against yours that if you arranged with the stores to sell an XP computers side by side with a Vista computer that XP sales would blow Vista right out of the market? Never mind, you already knew that. Thats why you pulled XP right out of the market leaving the consumer holding a computer that they have become very unhappy with. Trust me please, for I hear the complaints every stinking day to the point I am gettig tired of it. I guess thats what you do Bill, rip off the people of the world and run.

Thanks... for nothing!
Posted by Ted Miller (305 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Vista VS.
XP is simply NT with a bit of new paint. Microsoft did start selling XP again, but only after so many Vista Machines were brought back to the store that Most manufacturer began selling Linux machines. This scared Microsoft into putting XP machines back on the market! Gates feared that once people saw how stable Linux was, they might never go back to Windows!
Posted by as901 (105 comments )
Link Flag
I'm sure Bill Gates
I'm sure Bill Gates could care less if people buy Windows XP or Vista. They're both Microsoft products and both earn money for Microsoft. I would think that offering XP on new computers now is a boon for MSFT since people buying XP now will be upgrading to Vista when support for XP is pulled and some Vista-only project, like DirectX 11 or .net Framework 2009 becomes a necessity.

So yeah go XP go!
Posted by sanenazok (3449 comments )
Link Flag
I had a choice
XP or Vista - went with Vista - never looked back
Posted by pfletcher (88 comments )
Link Flag
Dell's coming full Ubuntu rollout
should make things interesting ;)
~ I dual boot XP and Gutsy, and Gutsy beats the living ...stuff.. out of XP.. I've also used Vista. Same deal. Compiz is awesome. OSX? AWN and the OSX theme. iLife? We're working on it. Hardware compatibility? Better every day. Better than Vista, hands down. App availability? Every open source app, WINE may hit 1.0 this year, more native each day...

Thing only get better from here. And if Dell keeps up their plans, my next PC may just be their XT tablet with Ubuntu Hardy.
Posted by ethana2 (348 comments )
Link Flag
Yeh, they said that
with Win2000 also. Now look where XP is now according to you. Vista will be there too. Forced? Don't think so. In fact, one can still buy new XP loaded PCs. There are too many choices out there. My mother wanted a new pc, she asked myself and my brother what to get. I am dual-booting Suse 10.1 and my brother has some version of Ubuntu. Mac is out there. The answer, Vista of course. Why give her a dying(WinXP) OS when she can have one that will keep on improving for years to come. Why give her one the will keep her perplexed and us busier (*.nix), when she can have something that works, and works well? Forced, I doubt it.
Posted by suyts (824 comments )
Link Flag
Gates Crytal Ball needs fixing.
I do not understand why so many folks look to Bill Gates for advice about the future of computing. When Apple first worked on there "Graphic interface", Gates claimed DOS was better. He later copied it and called it "Windows". When the Internet started, Gates refused to get involved claiming, "The Internet is just a fad!". Later, he tried to buy Netscape, and when they refused, he tried to destroy them by giving away an almost identical browser.

Gates did not innovate. He purchased software written by others. If he could not purchase their product, he drove them out of business. The future of computers was not planned by Mr. Gates. It happened in spite of him.
Posted by as901 (105 comments )
Reply Link Flag
It's amazing...
then that he is the wealthiest man in the world and perhaps the most successful contemporary businessman.

Your argument is clearly flawed. Why would people buy MS products if they are inferior and merely 'copies' of other, better software? I can't find the logic in that.

Your grammar is shocking too. Also, you clearly haven't heard of Xerox PARC.
Posted by a85 (104 comments )
Link Flag
Not really
Windows was not a copy of the Original MAC GUI, since it was not a multi tasking/pre-emtive OS.

So for what it did at the time it was candy over a DOS like OS.

"The Internet is just a fad!" can you actually find where and when that was said? many people have tried to research that comment with no luck.

In reality the only comment that can be found from Gates at that time period was introduced as evidence in the Anti trust case.

"The Internet Tidal Wave"

If you want to read the "REAL" thing here is the link to the DOJ evidence

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.usdoj.gov/atr/cases/exhibits/20.pdf" target="_newWindow">http://www.usdoj.gov/atr/cases/exhibits/20.pdf</a>

Now did he strong arm the Market on Netscape he sure did. Was it non compete? Well there is a lot of non compete stuff in this world, as you may have noticed during the Black trial on how many papers pay each other non compete fee's.

Now you are correct that they often purchased software written (licensed) but show me a commerical company that does not do that.
Posted by wolivere (780 comments )
Link Flag
Aw shucks, no more B.S. directly from Billyboy?
If I was him I'd jump ship now too. As the US/UK/Aus markets catch up with the rest of the world and realize MS=legacy, poor quality tech, the rest of the world is leaping ahead of us with open source technologies. History will show Bill Gates and MS were the largest obstacle to tech progress, and as the free market finally lifts itself out from under the monopolistic grip MS has on tech, the next 20 years will truly see an explosion in technology advances. What you won't see is MS getting in the way any longer. As the OS and Office monopolies crumble, there will be nothing to support MS in other areas where it is insignificant.
Posted by Microsoft_Facts (109 comments )
Reply Link Flag
???
Open source? rest of the world? Okay...

Actually I belive MS opened the world to technology for us. Why?

PRE MS, Operating systems were tied to Hardware, if you wanted an OS, it came along with the hardware that it would only run on.

We first saw a glimpse of this with the AppleII where almost anyone could buy parts slap an apple together and run the OS.

Micrsoft followed with an OS that was platform independent, and Open. Meaning any one could right anything to run on it with out paying royalties.

Apple went the opposite direction with the MAC, they mad an OS that was hardware dependent. And it virtually killed the company in the 80's.

Now when you say Free Market, do you mean "Free"? or do you mean "Open Source" or do you mean "Free Market"

Today is a free market, Microsoft did something most of the other companies could not do, and that was package and market the product.

Now if MS did not come along would we still be tied to DEC, IBM, HP and all the other boy's who charge huge licensing fee's?

MS, with Intel gave us a platform that anyone could do anything with. Would Linux even be around today? If MS had not opened the road? Would hardware be so inexpensive today with out the market weight Microsoft created? No...

So, can you tell me and point me to what other countries? as from a desktop standpoint are more advanced then the 3 you listed?

And can you fault MS for building legacy support into there OS?

I think people need to take there heads out of the sand and look at where this industry has come from.. and where it is going..
Posted by wolivere (780 comments )
Link Flag
Want to sell ice to Eskimos?
Gates has been an excellent salesman, but a lousy forecaster.

Want to sell ice to Eskimos? Call Bill Gates. He's your man.

Want to know which way technology is heading? Steve Jobs track
record would indicate he is the man to listen to.
Posted by rcrusoe (1305 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Revisionist, much?
"When Apple first worked on there "Graphic interface", Gates claimed DOS was better. He later copied it and called it "Windows"."

DOS was better, at first. And Apple didn't innovate the GUI, it was done by Xerox and shown to both Apple and Microsoft independantly. And I believe that the Unix-based X was first on the scene, but only on high-end workstations. Windows 1.0 was around almost at the same time as the MAC, as was GEM desktop, but they both stunk compared to what's around now.

When the Internet started, Gates refused to get involved claiming, "The Internet is just a fad!". Later, he tried to buy Netscape, and when they refused, he tried to destroy them by giving away an almost identical browser."

Actually, he licensed Mosaic technology, and developed their own browser from it, much the way Netscape did. Granted, they introduced a lot of controversy into the browser market at the same time...

Microsoft's biggest win for itself was in the Office space, though. If you compare Word 2.0 to WordPerfect 5.x, you find where they really made their money. Word was LIGHTYEARS ahead of anything else on the market at the time, although it wasn't at the professional level that WP was, it made creating documents that much easier. He sold copies of Windows because of Word (and of course Solitare), and helped create the landscape that we have today.

In general they take risks, and live them out. I don't think anyone talks about Microsoft Bob in a good light, but then again most folks don't talk much about the Apple Newton much, either.
Posted by blsith (48 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Revising the revisionist
Not quite that simple. Word and Excel appeared on the Mac
several years before they were produced for Windows and DOS.
If one chooses to believe a few years of Mac development didn't
jump start Windows, then I suppose one can, but it seems
unlikely MS GUI development did not benefit tremendously from
writing for the Mac.

Worth reading: www.sitepoint.com/article/real-history-gui.

Apple did make many significant early contributions to the GUI
including redrawing of overlapping windows. Additionally, in
the Xerox interface icons were verbs - they were actions. Apple
used icons a nouns as well (ie, actions could be preformed on
them). The result was the desktop metaphor, which was an
Apple innovation and the reason why GEM was nearly shutdown
by Apple-GEM copied the desktop metaphor.
Posted by maccam--2008 (19 comments )
Link Flag
Word vs Wordperfect
Good comment except for the portion about Word vs WordPerfect. WordPerfect was the best word processor out there for a few years. It was clean, logical and did not put a bunch of nonsense coding into the documents. If a mistake was made and one had to change the coding - Wordperfect had an easy to use Reveal Codes feature. Wordperfect could read Word formats (MS Word, Wordstar, etc) but MS Word could not read anything but Word. MS Word was illogical, not production friendly and was difficult to recover from mistaken formatting.
The only reason Word gained a foothold was that Microsoft excluded Wordperfect from the Windows environment. The DOS versions of many applications were fairly stable - yet the process of installation and use was cryptic. Many of us manually created menu systems that would allow people to just click a number or a self-programmed function key in the simple menu and their application would start up.
Windows was pitched as an application that would make it easier to install applications, access applications and provide drivers for various cards/peripherals. Many did not like Windows as it added more middle management to the process: Was it the application/card, was it Windows, was it the machine, was it a conflict?
Then Windows began to gain a foothold. Some jobs required updated software packages, which required upgrading to Windows as the packages no longer worked well in a straight DOS environment. Microsoft saw a market in the word processing arena - albeit a bit after the fact. They knew WordPerfect was their only true competition - so they went after WordPerfect. They excluded WordPerfect compatibility with Windows - long enough to severely cripple WordPerfect.
This is the one area Microsoft should have been taken to task for unfair competition - but was not. The majority of rest of the lawsuits are just trying to make money off the giant.
Posted by Dolphie1 (17 comments )
Link Flag
Get your facts and history right
"DOS was better, at first. And Apple didn't innovate the GUI, it
was done by Xerox and shown to both Apple and Microsoft
independantly."

DOS was never better, just old fashioned. Xerox did the GUI, but
Xerox management did not want to do anything with it. They
showed Apple, IBM, and Tektronix... only Steve Jobs "got it".
Microsoft were not shown by Xerox. Apple took the gamble that
Xerox management would not. Microsoft didn't catch on until
they saw the Lisa and then the Mac selling.
Posted by Ian Joyner (66 comments )
Link Flag
Fear for Gates
Bill Gates, the most noticed maverick in the history of the free world, has made some powerful choices that led him to incredible personal rewards and opportunities. I fear that a bullish Chinese government, soon to be in total charge of the U.N. and leading the G7-8 multi-natonal corporations, will just brush the man aside, pushing him off of his wealth, stopping press coverage concerning him, and just absorbing his value and talent with impunity, which has been a standard of political control in times past used by the Chinese.

In fact, once the Bush administration clears out of DC, the post ware baby boom will be officially retired (gone.) And for Bill Gates, he's in too deep to turn back now, even if he had the YEN to.

Fare well Bill!
Posted by jack1260 (19 comments )
Reply Link Flag
No worries for Bill,
I'm sure he'll be ok. For the rest of us...., we'll be ok too. I wish him well in his semi-retirement. You could be correct though, we should keep a wary eye on all of our supposed "friends".
Posted by suyts (824 comments )
Link Flag
re: ????
You mean CPM or CP/M, Control Program/Monitor from Digital Reseach. Se <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_Research" target="_newWindow">http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_Research</a>
Posted by beasem (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
No Apple Spam
Where's the Apple Spam? This is Cnet isn't it? Just a quick line on apple tv. My god, finally Cnet's matured and can see the world does not revolve around 8% of the market.

Well done Bill, have a good one, lets see if Jobs will match you giving away your money. Over half a billion now isn't it. Jobs is dragging his feet.
Posted by ggrs34 (25 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Who's Dragging Their feet?
Bills Gates - MS and his foundation.

Steve Jobs - CEO of Apple. On the board of Disney, which owns
ABC Television, ESPN, Pixar, Miramax, Hollywood Records, Lyric
Records, Disney Radio, Parks and Resorts.

Guess who has more impact on the lives of more people? It isn't
Gates.
Posted by Gromit801 (393 comments )
Link Flag
Thank you wolivere!
Your comments on this article have been quite impressive. You have aced both the Mac and Linux zealots on every conversation.

BRAVO!
Posted by hdubya (21 comments )
Reply Link Flag
LOL
Spewing Microsoft lies word for word impresses you?

Show me a technically knowledgeable(no an MCSE is not a qualification and technical savvy-ness) Microsoft fan who does not rely on the ineptness of MS or gets a paycheck from them and I will show you a unicorn.

They are equally common.
Posted by The_Decider (3097 comments )
Link Flag
Agreed
Enough said
Posted by TRScheel (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Crystal ball?
Put aside the fact that MS has been nothing but a cancer on the industry, but when has Gates ever predict anything correctly.

His total cluelessness on the future of the WWW is just the tip of the iceberg.

Anyone with a little knowledge and even fewer morals could have stolen, lied, and strong armed his way to "success".
Posted by The_Decider (3097 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Hi
I hear you have an OS that you are looking to sell?

BTW I happen to have IBM as a customer who is willing to pay me a million bucks for an OS if I can supply them one.

How much do you want for your OS?

Well if you worked for me I would fire you, and most likley you violated our NDA agreement with IBM.

So is it lies? Or is it Bussiness?

How many people here drive cars from across the pond to the east?

How many people know people here who have lost jobs in the Big 3?

How many of those car companies from the east have plants here?

And yet they close there market to the US? yet we applaud them for there great success....

How many of the big name software companies are original innovators?

How many of these companies bought the rights to something else? redid it and brought it to the market?

One of the major issues in this Free Enterprise, is if you have a good idea and not much in the pocket book, you most likely will need a partner to move you forward. Even small companies dream of being bought by larger companies so there idea's and thoughts will see a greater audience.

How many of those companies had there dreams crushed when these larger players just dismantled opertions after the 1 year contract deal?

Do you like EA? They are a sucess yes? How many companies did they destroy on the March?

Its not about lies its not about moral's its about buissiness. And when you run a bussiness, your loyalty is to your shareholder or the profitabiltiy of the company to provide a paycheck to yourself and your employee's.

Your morals are not to spill your guts on the internal workings of your company to a potential buyer, or a company you are about to invest in or purchase.

Apple should be thankful MS picked up the ball when SUN dropped the buyout.

Despite all the remarks it helped keep a viable competitor in the field.
Posted by wolivere (780 comments )
Link Flag
Before the storm; Gates' smartest move
Windows is a disaster waiting to happen.

With each iteration it bloats and bloats and comes closer to forcing MS to admit they really don't know how it works - witness the corrections to corrections that come out almost daily or their inability to hit any target date for SPs (SP3 for XP and SP1 for Vista are each years late.

But the more ominous problem is this: some huge portion of America's businesses, utilities, gov't agencies and other organizations that affect the public health, safety and welfare are dependent on Windows.

One good uber-virus and there goes our civilization: businesses can't schedule trucking (no more food), utilities lose much control over aspects of power distribution (no heat, no lights ... no computers to fix each other ...), investors can't talk to the stock market; industry crashes.

When you consider all that is riding on Windows - it's a lot more than your email files - MS should be held to a higher level of accountability than a game producer.
Unlike game software, Windows really could bring down the country.

If I were Gates, I sure as hell would take the money and run - as far as I could legally distance myself from the greatest time-waster known to mankind: MS Windoze.
Posted by yarlq (13 comments )
Reply Link Flag
VISTA
I really really hate Vista but then I really hated XP until after SPI, 2, etc. I think that one the SP's come out, we will live. Most people hate change (me!) but I think we'll be okay once the fixes come. What I hate is that I was forced into it because my XP crashed and I could only buy Vista. Little by little, I am getting used to it. Running it as a single user &#38; changing the looks to XP helps. Just buy more memory.
Posted by ninalou (9 comments )
Link Flag
 

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