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Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Home computing trend

Cheap "one-stop shopping" is the theme I detect in two announcements from Microsoft and other companies this week. First, there's the MSN TV 2 - "high-speed Internet without a PC," as the Wall Street Journal summed it up - or WEBTV for broadband and less money. For $200 up front and $22 a month, it bundles Net access and a large set-top box and wireless keyboard that allow for email, Web-surfing, photo-sharing, video-playing, IM-ing, and the ability to "open some common email attachments." Just the thing for people more interested in communicating than computing! The other new development (Microsoft's version code-name "Istanbul" but being worked on IBM and other companies) is targeting businesses first, but I can really see teenagers loving it. It "seamlessly integrates" Net-based communications - email, instant-messaging, video-conferencing, traditional phone service, and Internet-based calling, according to the Associated Press. "The products employ 'presence' technology, which tells users whether co-workers are online and their degree of availability - whether they can take a phone call or prefer to be emailed or to instead join a Web conference, for example," the AP reports, adding: "The idea is to enhance the 'buddy list' concept ... so workers can choose how to best communicate in a given moment." As usual, one can see privacy issues arising.


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