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Jobs & Gates to share stage

Rivals set for "unrehearsed, unscripted" debate

Apple chief executive Steve Jobs and Microsoft chairman Bill Gates have shared the spotlight for much of the past three decades. Later this year, the two tech heavyweights will share the stage during a joint appearance at an industry conference.

Both Jobs and Gates are slated to jointly discuss the digital revolution's history and future at The Wall Street Journal's D: All Things Digital conference. The annual gathering, which will be held May 29-31 in California, brings together executives from the technology and media industries to discuss the trends of the day.

This isn't the first time either Jobs or Gates have spoken at the D conference - during an appearance two years ago, Jobs revealed to attendees that iTunes would add podcasting support in a forthcoming update to the music player. But event organisers were quick to point out that the "unrehearsed, unscripted, onstage conversation" involving Jobs and Gates would mark their first joint session at this event.

Both men will have plenty to discuss. The concept of a digital hub has long been the centrepiece of Apple's strategy, and the company has enjoyed tremendous success with its iPod music player and iTunes online store; later this month, Apple will ship Apple TV in the US, a set-top box that delivers multimedia content from a computer to a big-screen TV. The product isn’t expected to launch in the UK until March.

Microsoft, meanwhile, has been busy on the digital front as well, launching its Zune music player last autumn and talking up multimedia and computing during last month's release of the Vista operating system.

The most memorable joint appearance by Jobs and Gates happened nearly a decade ago at the 1997 Macworld Expo in Boston . Gates appeared via satellite during Jobs' keynote to announce a partnership between Microsoft and Apple.


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