Apple and Microsoft strut their new stuff

If it's January, it must be conference time. And if it's conference time, that means it's time for the big guns of technology to trot out new models. And sure enough, both Apple's Steve Jobs and Microsoft's Bill Gates used technology conferences this week to launch new product lines.

When it comes to hype, no one can outdo Mr. Jobs. And based on the reaction of the media (including the cover story on this week's edition of Time Magazine) Jobs's announcement of the new line of

flat-screen iMac computers and the new iPhoto software grabbed most of the spotlight. (Jobs decided to give his speech Monday at San Francisco's MacWorld in order to trump Mr. Gates's speech later that same night at Comdex in Las Vegas.

Jobs hopes the new-look iMac will jump-start Apple's bottom line again. It has suffered during the current recession, although not as much as in past years, when Apple always seemed to be in trouble.

Meanwhile, a few states away, Gates was trumpeting the success of Windows XP, the company's new operating software. His joy may have been tempered, however, by the announcement that same day that the judge in Microsoft's antitrust trial would not grant the company a delay and that remedy hearings would start in March.

Gates also announced two new initiatives: Mira, a technology platform for wireless home computing, and a hardware and software package known as "Freestyle," which would turn XP-equipped computers into home entertainment centers. Both are examples of Microsoft's attempts to move into new areas it feels it can dominate.

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