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Mon 8 Jan 2001 04:00 AM

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Microsoft engages with the masses

Microsoft was reaching out to the mainstream public last week when it invited WWF wrestler "The Rock" on stage to unveil its XBOX games console in Vegas.

Microsoft is rarely found short of ideas for publicity stunts and it never lets the fact that a launch date is many months away spoil a grand unveiling event.It was no surprise, therefore, to see Bill Gates raising the curtain on its XBOX gaming console (slated for release in October) under the glaring lights of the Las Vegas Convention Center last week. The fact that World Wrestling Federation star Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson joined in the circus barely raised an eyebrow in the house.Beyond the theatrics, Gates used his keynote at the Consumer Electronics Show to outline Microsoft’s vision of “extreme entertainment” and the digital lifestyle. "Consumer experiences change when we put them in a digital form," he said, and "extreme entertainment is a digital lifestyle that changes media itself."Gates explained this concept by demonstrating a myriad of consumer electronics products that utilised the power of the PC and software to facilitate flexibility of information access, usage and storage in consumer's lives.In demonstrating the next version of Microsoft's popular Windows operating system software, currently known as Whistler, he described the concept of the "extended PC" as "a machine that you will be leaving on 24 hours a day." The "extended PC" is a machine that is always on and serves as the main warehouse for content that it distributes to the rest of the home via any number of different networks. Gates concluded his presentation by unveiling Microsoft's new XBOX gaming console. A new venture for the company, Microsoft expects the XBOX to be a tremendous success in the marketplace, as it utilizes the processing power and storage capacity of the PC solely for gaming. This capacity, he said, "empowers and unshackles developers" in the development of software for the system.

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