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FOSE Trade Show Set to Open Tomorrow

The 24th annual Federal Office Systems Expo (FOSE) kicks off tomorrow in Washington, DC, and with it come many of the major vendors in the IT industry, eager to peddle their wares to various federal agencies and offices.

FOSE (www.fose.com) is the largest government IT event and consistently the largest IT event of any kind in the DC region, according to Bill Howell, general manager of trade shows and senior vice president of Post-Newsweek Business Information (www.washpostco.com). Howell reports that last year's FOSE was attended by 20,500 attendees. In any given year, 78 percent of attendees are government employees, and the presentation and education components of the conference are all government oriented. The highlight of this year's FOSE will be the keynote addresses by Steve Ballmer, president and CEO of Microsoft Corp. (www.microsoft.com), and U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno.

Howell says that in the past several years, government offices have made the move to commercial off-the-shelf software and hardware products - "the same stuff as Fortune 50 companies." This year's conference will focus on what happens after Y2K and the next hot topics in the government IT sector. In response to some of these concerns, the federal government has established a CIO council, comprised of CIOs from several major IT companies and government agencies, who will address such hot-button issues as information security and assurance, digital government, and the omnipresent issue of the IT workforce at this year's FOSE.

According to Howell, government systems have been split almost evenly between usage of Windows NT and Unix network systems. Government agencies have been taking a "wait and see" attitude toward Windows 2000 networks, moving slowly and cautiously. Howell advises that in order to discern the federal government's next step in Windows 2000 adoption, the industry should "watch what goes on in the commercial space."

In addition to Windows 2000 adoption, the federal government is beginning to face the question of Linux in its workplaces. Howell explains that Linux is just starting to come up within government systems, but since the government is always looking to cut costs wherever it can, the future for Linux in government could be bright.

In terms of structure, FOSE is similar to PC Expo, with all major vendors represented. One difference, however, is the presence of government resellers, who tend to stay away from commercial and consumer IT events. Microsoft will have a Partners Pavillion, and six Linux companies will be represented at this year's FOSE. - Isaac Slepner

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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