Bill Gates' view of the future

Bill Gates, who will shortly retire from Microsoft, has made several recentspeeches, predicting the future.'s editor attended an event at the London Institute of Directors and the other one was in Saudi Arabia. Here are some of Gates' thoughts:

Over a billion people in the world use Windows personal computers individually, and something like a billion and a half more have access at schools, libraries and community centres. About 250 million of the computers are connected to broadband. Mobile phones have also emerged as an important device for browsing information, and about 2.5 billion people own them.

Innovation in both hardware and software will accelerate at an even greater pace than the past two decades. At the hardware level, the chip industry will continue to improve. Portable computers will become increasingly popular and gain market share from desk top computers. Mobile phones are becoming increasingly software-centric, receiving maps and instant messages, or taking and organizing photos and information. In the future you'll talk to your phone and ask for directions or ask for what's nearby. Your phone will be like a digital wallet so the need to use cash or credit card will be reduced. The phone will identify you and record your transactions.

Internet & Interactive Information

The Internet will become much more powerful and redefine TV. If you want to watch a football game in a certain number of minutes, then the software will figure out exactly what the highlights are. If you're watching the Olympics and you care only about certain sports, it will present exactly those things in a rich way. Even the advertising can be targeted so it's more interesting and more valuable to the advertiser. Likewise newspapers and magazines on the net will have a screen that's light in shape. Readers will be able to write notes on the screen and share comments with other people. Digital reading and blogging are at the very, very beginning.

Instead of using a textbooks, students will have their own computers to get interactive information. The search engine will develop a lot further and be connected to various devices such as the mobile phone. Mr Gates didn’t expand on the research and plans to improve search and compete with Google, but a huge amount of money is being spent to speed up, target the search process, localise it and make documents more accessible.

Surface as a marketing and conference tool

Microsoft is now marketing a table-like device called Surface. A customer can see a three dimensional product on the surface, can touch it, choose colours and designs and purchase it either from shops or warehouses via the Internet. In an office, or video conference, workers can touch Surface and see an article or illustration related to a topic.

The second digital decade will be more focused on connecting people. Microsoft will deliver platforms that will let people build applications. Those applications will run not only on the PC, they'll run up in the Internet, on the phone, in the car and on the TV. The applications will use the best of platforms and Internet services.

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