When Microsoft Gets Past This Rough Patch

Its new businesses could spark a new era of growth. So despite the PC slowdown and a tarnished image, don't count out Gates & Co.

As the snapshot of a work in progress, Microsoft's Feb. 12 preview of Windows XP offered a richly textured glimpse into the new Colossus of Redmond. Oh, the glitz was showing, all right. Gates & Co. held the event at Seattle's new Jimi Hendrix museum, built by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. Company execs declared the new software upgrade the most important to Microsoft's operating system since Windows 95 -- and they may be right.

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