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Tuesday, March 30, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 A.M.
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Gates dangles 2006 as date for debut of new Windows

By Kim Peterson
Seattle Times technology reporter

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The highly anticipated next version of the Windows operating system could debut in 2006, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates said yesterday.

Some people have speculated that the operating system, code-named Longhorn, will come out in 2006, Gates said.

"That's probably valid speculation," he said.

Predicting the release date of Longhorn has become a sport of sorts for Microsoft watchers. The company at one time expected to ship it as early as this year but pushed back the project as it became apparent more work was necessary.

Longhorn isn't like some Microsoft products that have set ship schedules, Gates said.

"We have things where we say, 'The train is leaving on this date. Whoever has their act totally together by that date, the train will leave,' " Gates said.

"Longhorn is not a date-driven release."

Gates spoke yesterday in San Diego at a conference of technology workers sponsored by the Gartner research and consulting company.

He also made his first public comments on the European Union's decision last week that Microsoft had unfairly used its dominance to gain an edge in the digital media market.

Besides imposing a fine of 497 million euros, or about $612 million, European antitrust regulators ordered Microsoft to disclose more information about its products to server makers and to ship a version of Windows that did not include its digital media player.

Microsoft said it will appeal the decision, which means it could take up to five years to resolve the case in European courts.
 
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Gates said the issues will be resolved, although there "will be several more years of process in Europe" to get to that point.

"People want more capability in Windows," he said. "There are some legal issues about how we package that up, how we license it, how we engineer it."

Gates also said that much of Microsoft's research is directed at security, including spam fighting.

Spam will be beaten back within the next two years, he said.

"Spam is awful in many ways," he said. "It's a waste of people's time," Gates said.

Kim Peterson: 206-464-2360 or kpeterson@seattletimes.com

Xbox price slashed to $150
Bloomberg News

Microsoft said it will reduce the price of its money-losing Xbox console in North America today, ahead of a reduction analysts expect from rival Sony.

Xbox will cost $149.99 in the United States, a $30 markdown, Microsoft said. It will make a similar cut in Canada and drop the price in Mexico by $45.

Microsoft aims to boost Xbox demand to fight Sony's PlayStation2, which outsells Xbox 5-to-1 in the $8 billion market for game systems.

Analysts expect Sony to trim PlayStation2's price to $149 or less by May. However, Sony spokeswoman Teresa Weaver said, "We have not announced plans for a price reduction, and as the market leader, we are not inclined to react to competitive moves."

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