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Comdex: Tech's Hype-Fest

The largest software companies have varying plans for Comdex, the annual technology hype-fest, with more than one big fish deciding the pond is just a little too cluttered.

"We don't plan any major announcements or anything like that," said Christine Rogers, spokeswoman for Computer Associates.

Not that the Islandia, N.Y.-based company will be entirely silent at this week's annual technology blowout, which is expected to draw about a quarter of a million attendees. Chief Executive Charles Wang will deliver a keynote speech Tuesday morning about international network computing.

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Intel (INTC)
The plans of Computer Associates (CA), the third-largest software company, are reminiscent of Intel's. The chip-making giant (INTC) has dropped plans for a booth at the conference, but the company's president and chief executive officer, Craig Barrett, gives his own address later Tuesday.

In addition to the conference's being rather cluttered - with about 2,400 businesses registered - some smaller companies have found the gathering prohibitively expensive.

"Comdex really shot themselves in the foot, increasing the floor-space rate every year," said a senior official at a software company that used to have a presence at Comdex but doesn't make the trip anymore. He asked to remain anonymous.

"It's just out of hand when you plug in all the expenses: the space, five nights of hotels and food, plus personnel costs," he added.

Netscape (NSCP), for one, hasn't exhibited at Comdex in several years.

The big software announcement at Comdex is scheduled for Monday, when Microsoft (MSFT) rolls out its latest and greatest database - SQL Server 7. President Steve Ballmer will be doing the debut, which will come a day after his boss, Bill Gates, gives the opening keynote address.

Microsoft's database release comes at time of sharpening competition in the $6 billion industry.

Oracle will reheat its Oracle8i pitch, delivered at this week's Oracle OpenWorld in San Francisco.

Although Oracle's (ORCL) chief executive, Larry Ellison, said the debut of the Internt database marks the "most important release" since the company's first database, this will mark the fourth "rollout" of Oracle8i.

Ellison - recently named one of Playboy's 10 best-dressed guys - recognized this redundancy at an OpenWorld press conference, quipping that he expects to have two or three more Oracle8i rollouts before the database actually ships in January.

Written By Brenon Daly

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