Here is a pretty nice article form the Wall Street Journal - the relevant section:
Comdex Showstopper: Bill Gates
Palm Inc. expected dozens of people to throng its booth at Comdex, the giant technology trade show, in the Las Vegas Convention Center this week. But the hand-held-computer maker didn't bank on an appearance by one unexpected visitor: Bill Gates, chairman of Palm's fierce rival, Microsoft Corp.
Mr. Gates was spotted Monday afternoon wandering around Palm's booth, where it was showing off new gadgets such as its Tungsten hand-helds and its $99 Zire devices. According to people who were there, Mr. Gates, sporting a blue baseball cap and surrounded by a small entourage of burly bodyguards, stopped in the middle of the Palm booth and said, "Where's the Zire? I need to see the Zire." Later, he even dropped by the small theater Palm had set up, where a staffer was giving a demonstration of some of Palm's new devices.
Mr. Gates's visit was a jaw-dropper -- after all, Microsoft and Palm have aggressively clashed over the hand-held-software market for several years. While Palm has had the edge in the market, Microsoft has raised the stakes in recent years with robust new versions of its Pocket PC hand-held software and advertising campaigns that have taken aim at Palm.
"We were shocked," says Jennifer Pataki, Palm's senior manager of marketing programs, who saw Mr. Gates in the booth. "It really was very bizarre. He's never been in our Comdex booth before." A Microsoft spokesman says that "every year, Bill spends time walking the Comdex show floor and looking at what folks in the industry are doing."
Mr. Gates may get more than he thought from his surprise visit. A Palm spokeswoman says the company's head of hardware, Todd Bradley, who wasn't at Comdex at the time, now plans to send the Microsoft chairman a Zire device with a note saying, "Sorry to have missed you at the booth." A Microsoft spokesman responds, "We'll be sure to send Todd Bradley a Pocket PC right away. Just like Bill, I'm sure he'll quickly come to the conclusion that it's the best mobile device software around."
Thanks to Ed Hansberry for sharing the story! :-)
Cheers ~ Arne
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