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Thu 11 Jan 2007 11:05 AM

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Gates bringing IT back home

The Microsoft chairman once declared that his goal was to have a PC in every home; now he seems to want everybody to have a server there as well.

In his annual address to the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, US, this week, Bill Gates showed off a new version of the firm’s Windows operating system, Home Server, designed to allow users to link up information stored on PCs, Xboxes, and mobile devices such as Zune. “We think it’s a category that will explode in importance,” Gates said.

Home Server is based on Windows Server2003, although Microsoft has said that later versions will be based on its upcoming Longhorn Server.

Microsoft has worked closely with HP on the development of Home Server, with the latter using CES to demonstrate a device that will run the new OS. The HP MediaSmart Server will allow users to share media files across a home network.

Other IT firms were also touting the benefits of home networking at CES; Cisco CEO John Chambers demonstrated his company’s vision of a connected home and said that consumer demand will see network capacity rise at up to 500% over the next few years. While the firm is usually seen as working with large corporate customers, it is keen to expand its presence in the consumer market.

The past few years have seen the more traditional IT firms increasingly keen to expand their reach into the consumer space, as the amount of digital media content soars.

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