Computers: Feedback: Showtime for computer world

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The Independent Online
AUTUMN is the computer exhibition season, with more and more of them directed towards the public rather than expense-account suits. Live 94, which continues at London's Earl's Court until Sunday, is a consumer electronics show, but an indication of the convergence taking place is the prominent presence of Microsoft, the giant of the computer software world, writes Nigel Willmott.

Microsoft has even joined in the spirit of such shows by making a special offer. Each day it is auctioning off a copy of its Office Professional package, offering integrated word processing, spreadsheet and communications and worth more than pounds 500, with proceeds going to the Prince's Trust.

The offer kicks off a wider promotion offering an extra product with every copy of Office (selling at about pounds 400) and Office Professional. Mostly they are Microsoft products, but in another sign of the times, it is also offering a package from another publisher - Sage's Instant Accounting.

Live 94 is followed by the Business Computing Show at Olympia, which runs from next Monday to Thursday (26- 29 September). This may demand wearing a suit and impersonating a managing director to gain entry. There is also less likely to be a Wheel of Fortune atmosphere.

One of the developing fields on show will be voice control systems, with new hardware and software packages being offered by Dragon Systems, the UK subsidiary of one of the leading US speech recognition specialists. A system that can recognise up to 5,000 words will cost about pounds 600.

Early October is Macintosh's turn with Apple Expo 94, also at Olympia, from 12-15 October. There were many complaints last year from visitors who turned up to the Mac User Show with their kids to find children were not admitted. Children will be admitted to Apple Expo on Saturday 15 October but rationed to two per adult.

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