Live from Comdex: Windows winners

By Brian Livingston

LAS VEGAS – PC Magazine announced here on Monday evening the latest winners of its annual Technical Excellence Awards, as it has done in a hotel auditorium at the Comdex computer show for many years. Comdex this time around was almost the smallest show ever – with the management actually charging $50 to $100 for some exhibit-only tickets, the registered crowd amounted to only about 50,000. That’s down from more than a quarter of a million before the dot-com bubble burst (although it seemed to me back then that the entire population of California had somehow been jammed into the exhibit halls and taxis).

The smaller army of gawkers, however, made Comdex more focused than before – I saw no sign of the La-Z-Boy recliners that were pitched to passing technology buyers in the past.

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This clarity of purpose was evident in PC Mag’s awards, too. Despite the downturn in startups lately, the magazine’s editors managed to find plenty of new technology to bestow trophies to, including several that are of particular interest to Windows pros. The editor’s picks won’t appear in PC Mag until the Dec. 30 print edition of the publication, but here’s a peek at the best stuff right now:


VMWare ESX Server 2 and Virtual SMP. This software enables you to host up to eight different operating systems, including multiple copies of any single OS, on a single server. With its Virtual SMP add-on, you can allow any of the virtual servers to use the processing resources of two or more CPUs.

FSLogic Protect. This is a utility that’s useful to even more people than ESX Server, in my opinion. With Protect, you can let Windows users change settings as much as they want, but Protect reverts everything back to the original state at logoff time. Best of all, users can log back in and see exactly the same files and desktop the way they left it. Great for public PCs but also any office environment where different people use the same machine.
Microsoft DirectX 9.


BEA WebLogic Workshop 8.1. A development environment for J2EE that PC Mag said “hides the complexity without limiting the underlying power to develop Web services, Web applications, portals, and integration projects.”

Compuware DevPartner Studio 7.1.
Sybase SQL Anywhere Studio 9.


Cornice Storage Element. Pen drives that plug into any USB port are gaining higher capacities, but at ever-higher costs and ever-larger physical bulk. An alternative to Flash storage for these little devices is the new Cornice drive, a tiny, shock-resistant 1.5 GB hard disk that’s a mere 1 inch in diameter. A review in the Nov. 12 Wall Street Journal said a Cornice-based USB pen drive, the Digitalway MPIOHS100, will soon go on sale for little more than half the price of competing USB Flash-based pen drives with only 1.0 GB of capacity.

IBM Active Protection System. A motion sensor that temporarily parks a hard drive’s heads to protect your data if a shock, such as dropping a laptop, is detected.
Sony DRU-500A Dual Format DVD Recorder. One of the first DVD burners that handles several incompatible formats: DVD-R, DVD+R, DVD-RW, and DVD+RW, as well as CD-R and CD-RW.

The magazine also handed out awards in the categories of personal computers, mobile devices, cameras, printers, components, protocols, collaboration software, and communications software. For the full list, see PC Magazine’s awards page. For the magazine’s judgment on the best new products showing at Comdex, visit the Comdex winners page.
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