Gates looks to the next ‘digital decade’
– by Leila Makki
Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates announced at the 2008 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas that this would be his last keynote after eleven years. Gates opened the show with a video parody about his last day at Microsoft- putting his belongings in a cardboard box, enquiring for employment with US presidential candidates, rock bands, and countless other celebrities to no success.
Gates also used the conference to highlight the factors that have helped shape the first true Digital Decade, which according to him, includes the popularity of Windows-based PCs, the growing prevalence of broadband networks, the spread of mobile phones and the advent of portable digital media devices.
“Since I first started talking about the Digital Decade in 2001, the speed with which digital technology has become central to the way we work, learn and play has been amazing,” said Gates. He added, “But in many ways, we are at the very beginning of the transformation that
software will enable. During the next Digital Decade, technology will make our lives richer, more connected, more productive and more fulfilling in profound and exciting ways.”
During the hour-long speech, Gates outlined his vision for the next Digital Decade, where dramatic advances in hardware and software will make the power of computing a ubiquitous part of day-to-day life. The chairman referenced how natural user interfaces will more closely
reflect the way people interact with one another and high-definition experiences will be ever-present.
“Now we are expanding Windows to go where you want to go and do what you want to do on PCs, the Web and mobile devices. The result is connected experiences that extend across people’s lives, interests and communities, at home and at work,” said Gates.
Examples of the growing prevalence of more natural user interfaces were demonstrated by a new version of Tellme, Microsoft’s integrated voice-and-visual mobile service that enables people to use voice commands to say what they want and see the answer on their phone’s screen.
The new service uses Global Positioning System (GPS) capabilities to identify the caller’s location, yielding results that are significantly more relevant. An example shown is saying “movies” into
the phone which then will recognize the location of the caller and provide a list of the theaters closest to that location. Furthermore, Microsoft gave an early glimpse of how future versions may also offer
the ability to purchase movie tickets from a mobile phone and share the movie information with friends and family via a text message.
Gates also touted the current success of Windows Vista – the company’s latest flagship operating system, which is currently in use on 100 million computers.
Other Microsoft announcements included a joint partnership with NBC Universal for on-demand Internet broadcasting for the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. NBCOlympics.com on MSN will enable online viewers to access more than 3,000 hours of live and on-demand content so they
can watch their favourite athlete or sport.
“An on-demand Olympics means online viewers will be able to return to their favourite Olympic moments over and over or watch a performance they may have missed for the first time,” said Gary Zenkel, president of NBC Olympics.