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May 15, 2007 at 8:09 AM

WinHEC: Gates, Mundie on tap at hardware confab

LOS ANGELES — With Microsoft’s Windows Vista freshly out the door, this year’s Windows Hardware Engineering Conference, which gets rolling with a keynote from Bill Gates at 9 a.m., will focus more on what is than what will be.

Gates is planning to discuss the operating system’s performance in its first 100 days (+/-) on the market and opportunities for developers to innovate on the platform, according to Kevin Kutz, director of the Windows Client group. (In March, the company said it had moved 20 million licenses for Vista in its first month on the market, more than doubling the initial pace of sales for its predecessor. The number and comparison were greeted with some skepticism.)

WinHEC has typically been a time for Microsoft to talk specifics with its important hardware partners about future versions of Windows. Not this year: “We’re not going to cover that, including Service Pack 1, at this year’s WinHEC,” Kutz said.

Gates will talk about the forthcoming version of Windows Server, code named “Longhorn.” Thanks to an earlier posting on Microsoft’s Web site for the conference, we know it will be called … wait for it … Windows Server 2008. (You can pick your jaw up off the desk now.) Mary Jo Foley reported it here. The site has since been updated, removing the 2008 name.

We’re also expecting more details on Windows Home Server, the consumer-focused product announced at the Consumer Electronics Show in January.

Craig Mundie, Microsoft’s chief research and strategy officer, and one of two people set to take over Gates’ day-to-day role at the company next year, will follow Gates on stage.

His talk, Kutz said, will cover where things are headed in the next five to 10 years, as well as the interplay between software, services and hardware.

Tomorrow’s speakers include Mike Nash, corporate vice president of Windows product management, and Bill Laing, general manager of the Windows Server Division, who will expand on subjects Gates is scheduled to talk about today, Kutz said.

Check back today and tomorrow for updates.

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