Jobs! Gates! Snell?

It isn’t every day that Steve Jobs and Bill Gates share the same stage. So when it was announced last February that the Apple CEO and Microsoft chairman would make a joint appearance at the D: All Things Digital conference, we decided it would be appropriate to have someone on the scene when The Wall Street Journal -sponsored conference kicks off this week in Carlsbad, Calif. And by “someone,” I mean Macworld editorial director Jason Snell, who, as I type this sentence, is currently negotiating his way through the usually thick North San Diego County traffic to attend D: All Things Digital and report back on the Mac-themed happenings to the rest of us.

According to event co-host and WSJ reporter Kara Swisher , the Jobs-Gates session is slated for Wednesday evening. Earlier that day, Steve Jobs will have the stage all to himself. We hope to have live reports from Jason about both appearances by the Apple CEO—at the very least, he’ll file his account of each event once it’s over—so check Macworld.com throughout the day to find out what Jobs says.

If the past is any indication, there should be some Apple-related news emerging from the conference. Two years ago at a D: All Things Digital session, Jobs promised the assembled crowd that iTunes would add podcasting support; a month later, that feature appeared in iTunes 4.9.

So what’s on the agenda for this year? If I had to venture a guess—and I believe the First Law of Blogging mandates that I have to, even if it proves to be ridiculously wrong—I’d say that DRM-free digital downloads are likely to be a topic of discussion. Steve Jobs penned an open letter on the subject earlier this year and struck a deal with record-label EMI to offer DRM-free versions of EMI’s catalog through iTunes some time in May. A quick look at my calendar indicates that there are only two days left in the month to meet that self-imposed deadline—a conference about the digital lifestyle seems as good a venue as any to deliver.

  
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