ZDNet Germany: What to see, and not to see at CeBIT

ZDNet UK is working closely with our sister site, ZDNet Germany, to bring you the best coverage of the world's biggest computer show, CeBIT. On the first day of the show, ZDNet Germany presents its view of Hannover's hottest tech news.

ZDNet UK is working closely with our sister site, ZDNet Germany, to bring you the best coverage of the world's biggest computer show, CeBIT. On the first day of the show, ZDNet Germany presents its view of Hannover's hottest tech news. More ZDNet Germany reports to follow

Whereto at CeBIT? Which of the 8015 stands are worth visiting? With a record number of exhibitors expected this year at CeBIT, the show has never been bigger or more complex. ZDNet brings you all the highlights in its very own product guide.

Hardware Hardware as fashion items

Whether mobile phones or MP3-players: what hardware offers these days in terms of functionality is all down to the software. The PC is no longer the focal point as the growing number of autonomous information devices control our everyday lives.

There was a time when the Deutsche Messe AG tried to create a CeBIT Home, which would focus on computer games and devices for the household PC. But those days are now over with CeBIT Home buried and forgotten. But it looks like the ghost of this Home-exhibition is about to haunt us: one look at the hardware manufacturer list of exhibitors clearly puts the ‘electronic gadget’ at the centre of interest at CeBIT 2001. The dominance of PDA, mobile phones, organisers and similar products is no coincidence: the aim is to impress the large public with these products and to get them accustomed to ‘pervasive computing’ and the omnipresence of all types of information devices.

Third generation mobile phone systems, also known as Universal Mobile Telecommunication System (UMTS) are focussing on mass data storage. But the risk of failure in this arena is high. The body responsible for guiding the mobile communications industry has already made it clear that without so-called "Training on the Show", brand new developments such as accelerated data transmission through General Packet Radio Services (GPRS) will not be welcome. Uncovering the real highlights from dozens of complex design studies for UMTS is no easy task.

Software New concepts replace feature overflow

In the software market, new strategies are being questioned: feature overloaded programmes no longer stand in the limelight as they are pushed aside by concepts like ASP and Microsoft’s .NET-Initiative. The fine line separating software from services is increasingly unclear.

In the dazzling world of software, CeBIT anticipates two events that will be heavily celebrated. Microsoft and its Office XP, a programme compilation which integrates the office into the .NET-Landscape thus facilitating Internet workgroups in particular. And Apple, which is planning a massive party on the 24th April, right in the middle of the show period, to celebrate the arrival of Mac-OS X, its latest operating system.

But both products have the same problem. Each one has to convince potential users to convert from one operating system to another: those with working versions of Office or those whose Macs either make strange noises or display ‘bomb alerts’ when running PC applications, see little reason to switch. Both Office XP and Mac-OS X will have to rely on trends, and so will most other software sectors too: many classic programmes are now staturated and the accumulation of features is no longer proportional to the retail price.

The same goes for ‘modern’ software packages, which first came to life over the Internet: if you built your website using NetObjects Fusion you won’t necessarily need Fusion MX, which allows you to build online shops. Because increasing features is not everyone’s cup of tea, talks of the software production crisis will probably also be present at CeBIT.

Networking Fully networked online-being

It’s the undercover highlight of CeBIT: the emulation of new networking concepts in terms of internet connection and online data sharing. Without these developments promises of future UMTS, GPRS and regional networks are nothing but talk??

Let’s start the CeBIT overview on networking by looking at the list of absentees. It’s quiet in Hannover in the LAN category. Novell of course is there, but will be presenting its Netware 6 in greater style at the ‘Brainstorm’ annual user conference. With this software the former networking king intends to become a service provider for portals.

At Microsoft, preparations are well on the way for their presentation of new Windows XP on 3nd April. More on Windows XP shortly. Text from ZDNet Germany. Translation by Sophie Handrick.

German language version of this report available here

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