In Las Vegas, Nov. 17, Gary Kusin, CEO of Kinko's (L) helps Microsoft's Bill Gates demo a new Web service coming in 2003 that will let customers print directly from Microsoft Office applications to Kinko's stores. Click image for high-res version.
LAS VEGAS, Nov. 17, 2002 — In his annual "state of the industry" speech at COMDEX Fall 2002, Microsoft Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates showcased a wide range of new devices, innovative software and industry partnerships that he said will bring exciting new benefits to consumers. Demonstrating a number of scenarios that showed the potential for computing to play a central role at work and in the home, Gates provided a first look at Microsoft® OneNote, a new Office family application that helps people organize and use information more productively, and offered a sneak preview of smart personal objects under development at Microsoft Research, including a travel clock, key chain and wristwatch that deliver timely, personalized information.
"Even though we're in an economic downturn, we're in an innovation upturn. I believe people are dramatically underestimating all the innovation going on in our industry, all the great products that are on the way, and the positive contribution that technology is making to our economy," Gates said.
Speaking before a capacity crowd of more than 12,000 attendees at the MGM Grand's Grand Garden Arena, Gates illustrated the shift from individual personal computers to a new era of truly personal computing -- a shift he predicted would drive tremendous growth in the technology industry -- by unveiling a new, low-priced Dell Pocket PC; announcing new hardware partners for Windows® XP Media Center Edition; revealing the official launch date for Windows Powered Smart Displays; and highlighting Microsoft's newest servers and development tools.
In his presentation, Gates provided a sneak preview of new smart personal objects developed by a Microsoft Research group focused on making everyday devices better at what they do, and enabling them to provide timely, personalized information in a convenient, "glanceable" format. He demonstrated an early prototype of one such object, a bedside clock with a touch-sensitive screen that updates its time as it moves between time zones, adjusts alarm times based on the user's schedule, and provides up-to-date weather, traffic and other useful information. Gates also showcased a sampling of other smart personal objects under development, including a key chain and wristwatch that could provide real-time news, personal messages or financial information, and an intelligent refrigerator magnet that could display sports updates or family calendar information.
Gates announced that Microsoft has collaborated with National Semiconductor Corp. on a low-cost, low-power chipset that will enable the first generation of smart personal objects, offering core functionality needed to bring computing intelligence to everyday devices. The first wave of devices incorporating these chips is expected to become available in the coming year.
From Personal Computers to Truly Personal Computing
Gates noted that the recent industry downturn has led consumers to seek out real value in technology, while businesses compete to build truly compelling products and services. He predicted that the underlying business model that made the PC a success will stimulate the growth of a number of new computing form factors, such as Tablet PCs, handheld computers and intelligent mobile phones.
"Just as inexpensive PCs running Microsoft Windows helped more people take advantage of the power of the PC and sparked an era of incredible growth for our industry, new devices and technologies will help bring about the next computing revolution: the shift from personal computers to truly personal computing that's available anywhere people need it," Gates said.
"It took our industry 20 years to ship 1 billion PCs, but the next billion will be shipped before the end of this decade," Gates continued, citing predictions made in a recent Gartner/Dataquest report. "Building on the strong foundation of Windows XP, our next generation of products will make those PCs and smart devices truly indispensable to the way people run their lives and businesses."
Noting that PCs are rapidly moving into the mainstream of entertainment and communications -- over 60 percent of U.S. households already have at least one PC, while 35 percent have a PC in the living room -- Gates predicted that over 50 percent of home entertainment systems are expected to feature a PC by 2005, and that computing will play a central role in almost every aspect of home and work life in the coming years.
Demonstrating various technologies from Microsoft and its partners in an on-stage "living room," Gates detailed the growing role of the PC in home entertainment. He announced the Jan. 8, 2003, launch and availability of Windows Powered Smart Displays, touch-screen wireless devices that extend the communication, entertainment and productivity capabilities of Windows XP from the desktop to any room in the home. Consumers can preorder the ViewSonic Corp. air panel V110 and V150 Smart Displays from a number of leading retailers today.
Gates also announced new PCs running Windows XP Media Center Edition from OEM partners Gateway Inc. and Alienware Corp., which bring a fully integrated digital entertainment experience to the PC with the freedom and convenience of simple remote-control access. Gates also showcased a number of software solutions for the home, including the new Windows Movie Maker 2 Beta, which allows users to effortlessly create and edit home movies in minutes on their Windows XP-based PC.
Microsoft OneNote Works the Way People Work
Moving into a workplace scenario, Gates introduced a number of software and hardware innovations that will make computing an even more indispensable part of the workday by offering more flexible and creative ways to manage and use information in the office; systems that break down barriers among people, devices and data; and interfaces that adapt to the way people work. He unveiled Microsoft OneNote, an Office family application for capturing, organizing and accessing typed, spoken or handwritten notes. Its flexible and intuitive user interface enables people to manage notes in a more natural way, using "notebooks" and "pages" that can be organized, searched and shared in ways that extend well beyond the capabilities of paper or conventional software. Microsoft OneNote is scheduled to become available in mid-2003.
Gates also announced a new, low-priced Dell Axim X5 Pocket PC that makes powerful handheld computing available to a far broader audience. The device, which features a 300mhz Intel XScale processor and 48 MB of memory, offers the functionality of more expensive models at an unprecedented low price. In addition, HP and Microsoft unveiled two new iPAQ Pocket PCs including an innovative high-end device with integrated Wi-Fi and Bluetooth (TM) and a biometric fingerprint reader. "These devices will enable even more companies to give their employees the power of mobile computing," Gates said.
Addressing the behind-the-scenes innovations that will impact the way companies do business, Gates reiterated Microsoft's commitment to XML Web services, noting that sales of licenses for XML-based server software have grown more than 150 percent this year despite the economic downturn and constrained corporate information technology budgets. He predicted that XML-based Web services will "rewire" the economy by connecting people, devices and information, benefiting everyone from information workers and small businesses to the world's largest corporations.
Gates showed how Web services can vastly improve productivity while creating new opportunities for businesses by unveiling a new service named "File, Print...Kinko's" that enables Kinko's Inc. customers to print directly from Microsoft Office applications to any U.S. Kinko's location. With rollout expected in mid-2003, the service will take advantage of the Web services capabilities in Microsoft .NET to work seamlessly with applications such as Microsoft Word, offering a more convenient and efficient way for consumers, information workers and businesses to print high-quality documents directly from their desktop, wherever they are.
In addition, Gates highlighted how Danske Bank, one of the largest banks in northern Europe, is connecting its legacy mainframe systems using secure, reliable Web services. By using advanced Web services specifications such as WS-Security and WS-Routing, Danske Bank will make trading information available to servers and smart client devices, reducing the workload traditionally asked of the mainframe and resulting in significant cost savings.
Gates also announced that Windows .NET Server 2003 is scheduled to be commercially available in April 2003, with release candidate two (RC2) to be delivered to customers in the next few weeks. He also announced the April availability and immediate final beta of Microsoft's flagship development tool, Visual Studio® .NET 2003.
Continuing his presentation, Gates focused on the role that trustworthy systems will play in bringing about the Digital Decade. He reiterated Microsoft's deep commitment to its Trustworthy Computing initiative, reflected in the extensive work the company is doing to help ensure the security, privacy and reliability of its products. Gates said that in the past year, Microsoft has provided training to more than 11,000 developers on how to write more secure code, and invested an additional $100 million in training, testing and design changes to help improve security in the Windows family of products, both for existing products and for products in development such as Windows .NET Server 2003. He also noted the company's work in the past year to create comprehensive tools that help customers evaluate and upgrade the security of their deployed systems.
"Trustworthy Computing is a core mission for Microsoft," Gates said. "For computing to have the greatest possible impact on our world, we all share a responsibility to make our systems both useful and unfailingly reliable and secure."
Gates continued his Comdex tradition of including a brief humorous video on technology trends in his keynote speech. This year's video was a parody of VH1's "Behind the Music," featuring Gates and a number of industry figures, celebrities and politicians talking -- with their tongues firmly planted in their cheeks -- about the evolution of PC technology over the past three decades.
Gates concluded his keynote with an optimistic view for the long-term future of the technology industry. "The PC industry was founded on the desktop," Gates said, "but we are building the future on technology that touches every part of our lives -- at work, at home, on the move and in the classroom. There are incredible opportunities here -- for our industry, our customers, and its partners. I think people are going to be amazed by the innovation that personal computing will bring in the years ahead."
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