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The main utility is AKA (Automated Kiosk Attendant) which was originally developed to keep Win 95 & NT PC based Public Access Kiosks optimized for 24/7 operation. AKA (PBI version) has been supplied as a free NetShift utility to be run with NetShift PBI.
Now an AKA OSM version for other applications has been released! It is offered as a separate product. For more AKA information visit AKA features!

We also provide the best Virtual Keyboard System: Keyon. Make your kiosk touch friendly and market it with your own customised Keyon keyboards!

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'Smart' Gadgets Encroach on Windows

Story Filed: Thursday, November 11, 1999 5:38 PM EST

NEW YORK (AP) -- As if Bill Gates didn't have enough reasons to lose sleep, here comes another: a sudden slew of home gadgets that offer a simple, inexpensive alternative to Windows computers for exchanging e-mail and surfing the Net.

Forget Microsoft Corp.'s bruises from its antitrust fight in Washington. The rise of these non-Windows products for the home -- ranging from a $99 e-mail device that plugs into a regular phone jack to a touch-sensitive screen for Web navigation -- could pose a more immediate threat to Microsoft's lock on home computing than any legal action.

The trend will be abundantly evident at the giant weeklong Comdex technology show that starts on Sunday in Las Vegas, where 200,000 people are expected to converge on 2,100 exhibits. While in previous years manufacturers just tested the waters with products that never made it to market, non-PC devices finally are finding their way into people's homes.

Notably, much of the new technology runs on the Linux operating system, which is gaining adherents amid user frustration with Windows-based machines that frequently crash or take too long to boot up.

``For the last 10 Comdexes, Microsoft has been king of the hill,'' said Richard Doherty, an industry consultant who heads The Envisioneering Group in Seaford, N.Y. But ``Windows, which had been a shoe-in, now has competition.''

Netpliance Inc. will show its i-opener, a $200 gadget with a 10-inch screen that offers simple Web access for checking the weather and stock quotes, and the ability to receive and send e-mail. Internet service costs an additional $21.95 a month.

InfoGear Technology Corp. is exhibiting its new iPhone, which for $400 includes three years of Web and e-mail services and comes with a built-in phone.

Cidco Inc. starting selling its $99 MailStation this past summer, good for just e-mail exchange. Global Converging Technologies, based in Plano, Texas, is showing its $399 NetDisplay, a wireless, touch-sensitive 6.25-inch screen that offers simple Web access and e-mail, good for roaming into different rooms. It comes with a base unit that includes a cordless phone and goes on sale next year.

Rounding out the trend, Sony plans to release an all-in-one PlayStation 2 video game console next year that will let people watch DVD movies, cruise the Web and eventually exchange e-mails -- all on their TV screens. Meanwhile, major PC makers are developing bare-bones Internet machines, some of which may use alternatives such as Linux instead of Windows.

One drawback is some functions can be limited; many e-mail-dedicated gadgets don't allow users to open up file attachments such as photos. Another potential downside is Internet access can be restricted to specially formatted text and images that fit on smaller screens.

Still, the products tap into growing discontent by users over the gnawing complexity of traditional computers, which can take several minutes to start up and require numerous steps to complete even simple tasks

Take Dottie Ferang, for example. Four months ago her kids gave her MailStation, which boots up in seconds, plugs into any telephone jack, and automatically dials into the network to search for incoming e-mail up to 24 times a day.

Now the mother of six grown children can't stop using the device to stay in touch -- and her personal computer is getting ignored. ``It's so cool,'' the 60-year old said. ``It's simple, which is good because I don't want to get into anything too complicated.''

Such sentiments are expected to help slow sales of personal computers, a maturing market.

Annual U.S. shipments of so-called information appliances -- a category that also includes cellular phones with Web access -- will grow by 74 percent a year between now and 2002, according to research firm International Data Corp. In comparison, sales of personal computers are projected to grow by just 9.4 percent a year.

Despite inroads by feisty newcomers, the personal computer is hardly disappearing. With its full-size screen and powerful processing power, the PC is expected to remain the main home tool for computing and full-fledged Internet surfing well into the next decade.

``PCs are not going away,'' said Tim Bajarin, president of Creative Strategies Research International, a San Jose, Calif.-based consultant firm.



Copyright © 1999 Associated Press Information Services, all rights reserved.

Newsbit furnished by:

A: NetShift Software Ltd.
A: Hughenden Yard, Marlborough, Wilts,SN8 1LT, UK
T: +44 (0)1672 511 094
F: +44 (0)1672 511 078
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W: www.netshift.com

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