June 1, 2007 11:27 AM PDT

Week in review: Tech titan togetherness

A rare joint appearance by Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates and Apple CEO Steve Jobs was the headliner this week at the D5 conference near San Diego, but several breakthrough products also shared the spotlight.

The two tech giants, in a much anticipated meeting, shared friendly banter onstage with Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg, columnists for The Wall Street Journal, which puts on the annual conference officially named, "D: All things Digital."

In response to a question about each other's biggest contribution, Jobs credited Gates for focusing on software, "before anyone else had a clue." Gates praised Jobs for pursuing the idea that the computer could really be a mass-market product. And they then delved back into the early days of the Mac when Microsoft and Apple worked closely together.

They were also asked about any misunderstandings in their relationships. "We've kept our marriage a secret for over a decade now," Jobs joked. Gates stayed silent for a while then said that neither of them really has anything in general to complain about vis a vis the other. "It's been fun to work together," Gates said. "It's nice when somebody sticks around."

Both Gates and Jobs shrugged off the notion that the computer is waning as more and more work is handled via the browser, but also recognized the explosion in portable devices and the opportunities there.

In that vein, the conference was also buzzing with unveilings of new products and partnerships. Jobs, for example, revealed a new relationship with YouTube owner Google. Starting next month, Apple TV users will be able to select "YouTube" as an option from the device's main menu and view thousands of the most viewed and most popular videos on the site.

Meanwhile, Microsoft took the wraps off "Milan," the company's new tabletop computer that's controlled entirely through touch with no mouse or keyboard. Years in the making, Gates touted it as the first in what the company hopes will be a long line of "surface computers."

However impressed by Milan, some CNET News.com readers remained skeptical that Microsoft will be able to deliver the technology to the home consumer.

"If this is only used for hotels, casinos, kiosks, etc., then it will be as meaningless to the average person as the OS in an ATM or self check out," one reader said, adding, "Let the hype begin!"

In another big product announcement, Palm made a bid to reinvent mobile computing with the Foleo, a 2.5-pound laptop PC with a 10-inch display that runs Linux. It's designed to let smart-phone users read and respond to their e-mail and documents on a full keyboard with a larger screen, said company founder Jeff Hawkins.

Other notable products unveiled at D5 were Livescribe's smart pen and Qigo's "keys" for Internet content, which are USB sticks with small executables that fire up Web content.

Google, here, there and Where 2.0
It was also a busy week in Google news, between the company's first Developer Day; the launch of a new Google Maps feature highlighted at the Where 2.0 Conference; and the release of Google Gears.

The search giant on Thursday hosted its first-ever Developer Day in 10 locations as part of a ramped-up effort to encourage developers to build mashup applications with Google Web services. In conjunction with the day, on Wednesday it launched Google Gears, a browser plug-in that will enable people to run Web applications whether they're connected to the Internet or not.

CONTINUED: More tech layoffs…
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Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Milan, Week in review, ATM

 

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