It seems like only yesterday that Bill Gates was the Trenton Computer Festival (TCF) keynote and banquet speaker, and spent his day at the Trenton Computer Fair representing his new company — Microsoft.

Gates visited the exhibit hall and flea market. Computer fair pioneers recall that he was always polite and answered the questions of those he met. Microsoft is also in the spotlight at this year’s computer fair, but it is sharing that spotlight with its suddenly, unexpected cool competitor, Apple.

The 34rd Annual Trenton Computer Festival takes place on Saturday and Sunday, April 25-26 at The College of New Jersey in Ewing. Sponsors this year include The College of New Jersey, U.S. 1 Newspaper, and the IEEE Princeton Chapter.

TCF offers a weekend of computer entertainment including shopping, socializing and lots of free education (at no extra charge). There will be more than 100 seminars, workshops, interactive demonstrations and events, and discount computer and electronics sales with both indoor electronics/computer show area and outdoor flea market featuring “incredible deals” listed on the TCF web page. TCF 2009 also includes a Friday IT Professional Conference with Saturday sessions open to all TCF attendees.

A two-day TCF admission pass is $10 if purchased in advance, but will be available at the door for $15. Passes for Sunday only are available for $10 at the door. For information about all of the TCF events and activities including the TCF IT Professional Conference, and to buy advanced tickets visit www.tcf-nj.org/ or call the Trenton Computer Festival show management office at 973-589-7805.

Some 20 years after Bill Gates spoke at the computer fair, Microsoft is still represented, this year by Peter Laudati. Peter is a Developer Evangelist for Microsoft. In his current role, Peter works with the developer community in New York and New Jersey to support area user groups, code camps, and other events. Previously he worked as a consultant in Microsoft’s services division. As a consultant, he worked on several application development projects and provided architectural guidance for large customers throughout New York and New Jersey. He blogs at www.peterlaudati.com.

Laudati will introduce Microsoft’s new Windows 7, to be released later this year, a new version of the most popular personal computer operating system — but one that has riddled with problems and widely ridiculed in too many Apple prime time commercials to count. Windows 7 is expected to be faster, more reliable, and easier to use than its predecessor. It will have new features and enhancements, which Peter will be demonstrating.

Well know TCF speaker, David Soll will also be speaking on Windows 7. Soll is group lead for the Center of Excellence at OSIsoft and the chair of the Princeton Chapter of the IEEE Computer Society. His talk will center on how Windows 7 compares with Vista and old favorite Windows XP.

Sunday will be Apple/Mac day at TCF. Apple will be represented by Dave Marra, a senior systems engineer for Apple who represented Apple/MAC at TCF last year. His specialty areas include digital multimedia, Internet technologies, and Mac/PC integration. Visit www.marrathon.com.

Marra will present four talks at TCF this year. He will speak on the new Mac Leopard operating system, which features a completely new desktop and search environment, a way to browse and locate files without opening them, Time Machine, an automated file backup and recovery utility, and Spaces, a way to keep the Mac clutter-free while multi-tasking.

Marra will also speak on iWork ‘09, Apple’s newly-released word processing, spreadsheet and presentation software, which features major updates to Pages, Numbers and Keynote, and all are compatible with Microsoft Office. He is also giving a presentation on iLife ‘09, an upgrade to the popular iLife suite of consumer applications that aim to let anyone become a web designer, movie maker, and electronic musician.

This year’s upgrade includes features that identify faces in photographs, organizing them on a virtual corkboard and then adding more as each person appears in photographs throughout the years.

Both companies are rolling out products that make doing all sort of things with computers — organizing the family’s photos through running the family’s business — substantially easier than they were when Bill Gates make his famous visit to an early Trenton Computer Fair. This year the pair are locked in a battle for scarce consumer dollars and are pulling out all the stops.

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