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Google confronts Microsoft mastery

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GOOGLE has stepped up its challenge to Microsoft, announcing plans for a video and television internet service and a package of programs that could break Bill Gates's stranglehold on the world's personal computers.

The initiatives were announced by Google's co-founder, Larry Page, at the closing keynote address of the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, a huge industry gathering that drew 150,000 people. The event is generally seen as setting the tone for the year in technology.

Mr Gates opened the show for the 10th year running, but in a sign of Google's growing influence it was Mr Page who got the last word, with a speech that was a big draw for those attending the trade shows.

His unveiling of the Google video store underlined what emerged as one of the show's main trends - the shift to providing television and video content via the internet, rather than cable and satellite.

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