Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates, speaking at the annual conference of the American Association of School Administrators in New Orleans in February, outlined a software initiative called the Schools Interoperability Framework (SIF). The new software standard is designed to increase compatibility among school software applications, he said.

More than 18 technology companies already have signed on to the software standard, but Apple and key Apple software partners were notably absent from the list.

Gates, who missed a scheduled appearance at last year's AASA meeting because of the ongoing Justice Department action against alleged monopolistic practices by Microsoft, provided

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