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Tuesday, April 21, 1998 Published at 06:23 GMT 07:23 UK


Gates breaks Windows 98
image: [ Gates' speech was upstaged by his own software's failings ]
Gates' speech was upstaged by his own software's failings

A demonstration of Windows 98 crashed as Bill Gates sang the praises of the new operating system to an audience of hundreds at a key industry trade show.

"I guess we still have some bugs to work out," Mr Gates told the chuckling audience.

"That must be why we're not shipping Windows 98 yet."

The computer running a pre-release version of Windows 98 crashed as a Microsoft employee plugged a scanner into a PC running the new operating system.

Mr Gates was attempting to demonstrate its support for a new hardware technology, the Universal Serial Bus.

It is provided through a feature known as 'plug and play' - lampooned by its critics as 'plug and pray' when it was first introduced in Windows 95.

Windows 98 is expected to go on sale in June. It will replace Windows 95 on most new computers. Millions of consumers and business users will also be encouraged to upgrade their existing computers to it.

The new operating system provides support for new kinds of computer hardware and is designed to present information from the Internet and information from a user's computer in a consistent way.

Mr Gates said Microsoft was very close to shipping Windows 98.

"We're just down to the last de-bugging, getting feedback from customers. I think it will be ready to go out the door very soon," he said.

No talk of legal wrangles

Mr Gates switched to a backup machine and continued his demonstration of the product's key features.

He also told the audience at the Comdex Spring show in Chicago of research into handwriting and speech recognition for future products.

He also spoke of plans to enable computers to learn what a user might want next based on past behaviour.

He made no direct reference to Tuesday's scheduled US appeals court hearing in Washington in the Justice Department's antitrust case against Microsoft.


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