Gates: Tablet PCs will replace textbooks, other predictions

Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates today outlined a future of computing akin to a Whole Earth Catalog for technology. The computing systems of the future will be more natural, responsive and capable of easily recognizing objects and people. They will also be completely customizable, he said.

Television, for instance, will be based on the Internet and it "will be an utterly different thing," that's customizable and interactive, Gates said during a talk before the Northern Virginia Technology Council, an industry group gathered at a hotel located just steps from the White House.

Gates appeared this week before the US House Committee on Science and Technology to talk about policy issues, including education, basic research funding as well as to argue for the need for better access to foreign workers through the H-1B visa and other programs. But today he was back to more familiar themes.

One of those themes was building technology based on a concept he calls natural user interface. Building these interfaces is one of the "biggest challenges" ahead, Gates said, and one that is also "greatly underestimated." But it will deliver "new ways of interacting with these computing devices," he said.

This mode of interaction goes well beyond the mouse and keyboard. One example is the tablet computer, which Gates said is beginning to move into the mainstream.

Gates said his daughter goes to school where she has a tablet PC, "no textbooks at all."

Tablet devices, with video and collaboration capabilities, are "far superior then what used to be done in print," Gates said.

Natural user interfaces will include voice recognition software so advanced that recorded content will be easily searchable. Gates also sees cameras giving computers vision.

"In the future, instead of having the computer on your desk, you will have the computer in your desk," Gates said, and that desktop will have the ability to recognize what the user is doing, as well as the objects and papers placed on it.

In the home, "intelligent surfaces" will be pervasive, he said, to help organize a trip, photos or just about anything. "It can be done without the hardware being significantly more expensive," he said.

Data centers will be lights out, and software development will use a model-type form, allowing a succinct form of development, the Microsoft chairman said. Software is "much larger than the simple English description of what that business is up to." Software is expensive and hard to fix, and "we want there to be less lines of code," he said.

"These kinds of big breakthroughs are coming because the industry is investing in research and development," said Gates, who noted that R&D has become the most important part of his company.

In the audience were people from companies that are heavily involved in the government market, where they sell services that use Microsoft products. It was a friendly audience, but there were still tough questions.

Pointing out that security is "essentially an afterthought," in technology, Mark Boltz, a senior solutions architect at Stonesoft, a network security provider, said Gates had spent "maybe 10, 20 seconds" of his talk on security.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Patrick Thibodeau

Computerworld
Show Comments

Brand Post

Bitdefender 2019

Taking cybersecurity to the highest level and order now for a special discount on the world’s most awarded and trusted cybersecurity. Be aware without a care!

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?