Bits, bobs and gaming

(This is the Online column, written for The Southland Times)

I’m not a technological wizard but I am a fan of gadgets and geeky stuff, so right now it feels like geek heaven with WinHec this week and E3 next month.

Microsoft’s WinHec bunfight this week took a look back at what the Windows has achieved during the past two decades and where it’s heading in the future.

WinHec is the company’s annual hardware engineering conference and there have been positive reports online about what was on show. You’ll find a comprehensive rundown at the Seattlepi.com Microsoft blog.

While everyone’s on the edge of their seats wondering if the next version of Windows (codenamed Longhorn) is ever going to happen, the big news from the conference was the official launch of 64-bit Windows. A 64-bit Linux system has been out for more than a year and 64-bit processors have been available quite a while some time, the lack of a mainstream operating system to go with it has slowed down a lot of software developers.

Beta versions of Windows XP Professional and Windows Server 2003 64-bit are available and the company says XP Professional will be an OEM product, meaning you can’t buy a boxed retail upgrade or full retail version

For laptop users, the WinHec announcement of a new hybrid hard drive that uses flash memory to lower power consumption should be good news. It’s also supposed to reduce the number of hard drive failures.

Of course, Longhorn was also previewed — to mixed reactions.

PC Mag thought it was okay and promises a more in-depth look at the system during the next few weeks. However, vnunetwork wasn’t impressed with the once-again watered-down security features.

Not surprisingly, MacDailyNews is also somewhat unflattering with its comments.

The Electronic Entertainment Expo — better known as E3 — is a trade-only show that isn’t open to the public. Journalists and industry professionals will be exchanging pleasantries and playing with gadgets in Los Angeles from May 18 to 20.

More than 1000 computer and video games and related products will make their debut at the 11th annual expo, which is the premiere product launching pad for the worldwide interactive entertainment industry. Overall, more than 5000 products will be on show.

Microsoft has shunned E3 for the debut of the next generation Xbox. Instead, it will feature on MTV next month.

The new beastie is expected to be in the shops by Christmas. If you’re wondering what it looks like, it might be something like this. More Xbox rumours can be found at Gamespot.

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