CEBIT - Ballmer: IT is entering another period of revolution

IT is about to undergo another revolution, allowing us to interact with it in more natural ways, Steve Ballmer predicted at the Cebit opening ceremony

IT is about to undergo another revolution, this time allowing us to interact with it in more natural ways, Steve Ballmer predicted at the opening ceremony of the Cebit trade show in Germany.

Ballmer recounted seeing the IT industry undergo four revolutions since he joined Microsoft 28 years ago: the arrival of affordable personal computers, the development of graphical user interfaces, the rise of the Internet and "the Web 2.0 revolution," which was just beginning when he last visited Cebit in 2002, he said.

At that rate, one revolution every seven years or so, we're due for another, he calculated.

Contributing to this nascent revolution, he said, are increases in available processing power and storage space, and the spread of wireless broadband Internet access. Developments in natural interfaces and display technologies will also play a role, he said.

"The computer is still unnatural: you have to learn mouse, and menus, keyboard," he said.

To get around those limitations, he said, "We're pioneering technologies that can identify spoken and written words. Interacting with computers will be just like interacting with people: We may still use keyboards and mice when it's more efficient, or you may use a wave of your hand to instruct the computer what you intend," he said.

Ballmer promised that paper will one day be obsolete. "Maybe not in this revolution but in the next," he said.

Meanwhile, "Instead of devices being tied to screens, we'll simply link our devices to a nearby display, or project information onto whatever surface is handy," he said.

He outlined three areas in which the effects of the coming revolution will be apparent by 2015: personal empowerment, social interaction and global social issues.

Three innovations will mark this era, he said: We will each have a single digital identity; software will learn our habits; and personal information will be instantly and ubiquitously accessible.

Personal empowerment, for Ballmer, means access to his calendar, contacts, photos, driving directions and e-mail wherever he goes. "You'll just log on, click and instantly get access," he said.

Software and services will be likewise instantly accessible, as will communications.

"Tomorrow all you'll need is a name, and software will automatically know how to reach you, the best way to reach you and the context," he said.

When it comes to social interactions, the coming revolution won't necessarily be good news for everyone, perhaps costing some their jobs.

"My computer wasn't really very helpful" when it came to organizing this trip to Hanover, Ballmer said. That forced him to ask his executive assistant to arrange everything.

"It would have been great if I could have just asked my computer, but we don't yet have that much intelligence in these devices."

"In the fifth revolution, software will begin to learn your habits," he said.

Another effect of expanding bandwidth and increases in processing power will be that using communication technology to interact with people will be more and more like meeting them in person, he said.

Ballmer predicted that the fifth revolution will have an impact on global social issues, such as education, where technology will bring increased access to information for those who can't attend school today.

It can also help protect the environment, by allowing us to better manage the energy we consume, he said.

Finally, as Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates prepares to step down from the company, Ballmer hinted at the timing of his own departure.

"I've got about nine more good years in this business, enough for about one more revolution and a half," he concluded.

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Peter Sayer

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?