Chairman Bill Gates on Sunday unveiled a new feature expected to be built into the next major release of the software maker's Windows operating system, a search tool that aims to make it easier to find information stored on personal computers.

Gates, speaking at the opening keynote address at the Comdex trade show in Las Vegas, unveiled other products based on the software maker's well-funded research arm that promise to cut down on spam, make computer networks more secure and improve computing on the road.

He also spoke of extending Microsoft's software into a variety of gadgets such as watches and mobile phones, as the world's largest software maker tries to tap into new growth to reduce its dependence on slowing PC sales.

In order to tackle the increasing proliferation of information passing through desktop computers, Gates demonstrated a new feature called "Stuff I've Seen," which could be incorporated into the next version of Windows, code-named Longhorn.

It will allow users to track their files, e-mail, Web pages and other information that they see on their computers.

Although similar in concept to the "recent documents" feature in Windows, the software captures a wider range of files and displays them in a single simplified interface.

Microsoft said earlier this year that it is investing heavily in developing search technology to offer search services for Web users and take on Internet search leader Google.

Gates also addressed another problem plaguing computer users -- spam, or unsolicited e-mail.

Available in mid-2004 as an add-on to Microsoft's e-mail software products, "SmartScreen" technology developed by Microsoft's research arm will filter e-mail to prevent unwanted e-mail advertising and malicious messages from reaching recipients' inboxes.

Microsoft, which vowed to improve the security and reliability of its software in a "Trustworthy Computing" initiative nearly two years ago, also said it will introduce new server-based software to secure computer networks.

Dubbed the "Internet Security and Acceleration Server," Microsoft said it will make the network perimeter protection product available in the first half of next year.

Tablet PC, the pen-based PC that debuted a year ago running a special version of the Windows XP operating system, will also get an upgrade by mid-2004 with improved handwriting recognition.

source: reuters
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