This is not the biggest show out there (Comdex owns that title!) but it's an influential one where hordes of ordinary computers users come to get an idea of what's new and hot. And what's hot here is Windows, Windows, Windows, and Palm. If there's a single overused buzzword here, it's "wireless." I think I've spotted that word, along with the phrase, "mobile Internet," at least a thousand times.
To give you an example of this show's scale just in case, like me, you mostly stick to Linux and Open Source expos, the Windows "partners" pavilion here is bigger than the entire Linux World Expo that was held here last February. It is a humbling experience to be a Linux user here, somewhat like the feeling FreeBSD advocates must have at Linux shows.
Even the two (prototype) Crusoe-powered IBM laptops on display are running Windows. In the display next to the two-story tropical-themed Crusoe extravaganza, Intel had screen after screen of Windows, despite all their recent make-nice moves toward Linux.
IBM has more Linux showing than most. A sign says, "You talk, Linux types" above the display for their new ViaVoice for Linux. And if you look closely at some of the "start" buttons in the lower left screen corners on some of IBM's thin-client products, you see Penguins instead of flying flags. Yes, that is Linux, quietly there, unadvertised, doing its job without any fanfare.
But forget Linux for a moment. Palm is the only presence here that even touches that of Windows. While the Palm "partners" pavilion is less than half the size of Microsoft's equivalent, the Palm one is constantly packed, so crowded that you have to edge sideways to get into it. Microsoft's display for Pocket PC, their renamed and updated WinCE, is deserted by comparison. Palms and Visors seem to be the wireless favorites, and they are almost everywhere here that Windows isn't.
There is a Linux pavilion, but it is sadly tucked into a lower-right corner of the less-than-main exhibit hall, and not as big, all told, as Dell Computer's single display. It is not uninhabited; LinuxMall, the pavilion sponsor, is doing steady business in assorted Linux goodies, and Isaiah, a Red Hat tech rep, said they gave out 400 Red Hat 6.2 CDs yesterday "in a couple of minutes, all to CEOs who said they have IT managers working for them." That was a wowser to Isiaiah, who was amazed "...that the people asking about Linux here are suits, not techies."
But there are a few signs of non-Windows life here, tucked away in corners, not always easily identifiable. For instance, I spotted a nice little "network appliance" gadget called a FoxBox made by NetWolves Corporation. I asked what OS it ran, and the booth person said, "FreeBSD."
I said, "It doesn't say that anywhere on the literature I see here."
He said, "Really? I suppose we ought to change that. Not many people have asked what operating system we run, and most of the ones who asked were relieved to find out it wasn't NT."
More on PC Expo, including John "maddog" Hall's keynote speech, tomorrow afternoon.