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Comdex Gets Down To Business

Companies are using the slimmed-down, IT-focused trade show to debut products that are oriented toward businesses, not consumers.

A leaner, meaner Comdex opened this week as a newly focused trade show that concentrates on IT, not the all-encompassing, consumer-oriented event that drew crowds of 200,000 as recently as three years ago. This year, a host of big-name technology companies are making good on the show's promise to pay more attention to business.

Always a major player at Comdex, Microsoft touted its anti-spam technology, called SmartScreen, that's already built into Outlook 2003, the E-mail client of the recently released Office 2003 suite, and said it would roll spam-fighting features into its Exchange Server 2003 software during the first half of next year.

Dubbed the Exchange Intelligent Message Filter, the add-on will be made available for free to customers deploying Exchange 2003 that also have signed up for company's Software Assurance licensing program, a plan that guarantees them free upgrades in exchange for an annual fee.

The heuristic-based technology let users "train" the anti-spam filter by categorizing messages, according to Microsoft. Such messages are fed back into the training loop, giving the filter more ammunition about what to designate as spam and what to let through to the in-box. SmartScreen is also used by Microsoft's Hotmail Web-based E-mail service.

Exchange Server 2003 doesn't boast any dedicated anti-spam defenses; instead, users typically deploy third-party content-filtering software atop the E-mail server to reduce the glut of spam.

Dozens of exhibiters promoted enterprise-style solutions and products at Comdex on Monday.

Hewlett-Packard rolled out its first desktop powered by Advanced Micro Devices Inc.'s new Athlon 64-bit processor. HP's Compaq Presario 8000Z, which will be available Wednesday, will feature AMD's Athlon 64 3200+ processor, 256 Mbytes of memory, an 80-Gbyte hard-disk drive, and a DVD-ROM drive. Pricing will start at $1,139 after a $100 mail-in rebate.

Later this week at Comdex, HP will unveil additional products and services in its business printing and copying portfolio, the company said Monday.

Xerox Corp. expanded its workgroup-oriented printer and copier line with the introduction of the Phaser 6250 printer and the WorkCentre M24 copier-printer. The 6250, a 26-page-per-minute color printer aimed at medium to large workgroups, offers Web-based management tools, TekColor color correction, and 2,400-dots-per-inch resolution. The WorkCentre M24, aimed at smaller workgroups, is a combination color copier and printer that boasts print speeds of 13 ppm in color and 24 ppm in black and white.

NEC Corp. used Comdex to roll out two new large-format LCDs in its MultiSync line, the 20-inch LCD2080UX+ and the 21-inch LCD2180UX models. The pair, which add to existing 18- and 19-inch screens in NEC's LCD 80 series, feature wide-angle viewing, adjustment software that lets users tweak the displays without resorting to the monitors' front-panel buttons, and multiple connectors that let customers jack in the display via traditional VGA connections, an analog-digital DVI-I connector, or a digital-only DVI-D connection. The monitors will ship in December at prices ranging from $1,499.99 for the 20-inch model to $1,549.99 for the 21-inch screen.

Backup storage vendor StorServer Inc. debuted three models of its K Series Backup Appliance that contain Qualstar Corp.'s RLS-Series rack-mounted tape libraries, a move the company says will save space in crowded data centers. The new appliances, the K1400, K2400, and K3400, shrink the required space by as much as half, according to StorServer. The new units, which support more than 35 client platforms, including Linux, Unix, and Windows, will ship by year's end.

Gateway introduced a Serial ATA-based storage device, the Gateway 840, and a new network-attached storage appliance, the Gateway 860 NAS. The latter, Gateway says, will run Microsoft Windows Storage Server 2003, the newest edition of Windows that's specially designed for NAS devices and sell for around $3,000 in a 1.2-terabyte configuration.

Gateway also said it will add SuSE Linux to the operating-system options that customers can choose when purchasing its servers. Previously, Gateway offered up various flavors of Windows and Linux from Red Hat Inc., a major competitor of SuSE in the enterprise open-source operating-system arena.

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