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Bill Gates on software's future

Bill Gates may be winding down from full-time duties at Microsoft, and his optimistic vision for the future of software may sound familiar, but it's clear he can still draw a crowd. More than 1,100 executives from the greater Northern Virginia technology community squeezed into a Capital Hilton ballroom in Washington this morning to hear Gates' perspective on what's next in software, technology, education and the political landscape.

'Software will change more things in the years ahead than it has in the decades past,' Gates said.

Gates, speaking at a Northern Virginia Technology Council breakfast, noted how the evolution of software and increasingly powerful microprocessors, along with the Internet, had impacted personal and business computing; and how it changed the very nature of photography and the music business, for instance.

'But I think the second digital decade will climax ... with even more profound changes,' he said, predicting legacy office PBX telephone systems, the television business, and most of all, the way people work together, will undergo dramatic transformations.

'Many things will move off the desktop and will be done in the (Internet) cloud,' he said. Massive amounts of information, such as Microsoft's Virtual Earth, make more sense being shared over the Internet than downloaded on desktop PCs, he said. The key to future software development, he added, is to create the architecture, using Extensible Markup Language, Web service protocols and management software that lets people manage data and applications in a hybrid environment which makes the best of both local and Internet computing worlds.

The biggest change coming, he said, is new ways of interacting with devices. While the use of keyboards or a mouse isn't likely to go away, new capabilities in speech recognition, for instance, may make mobile phones a much more powerful input device. Gates continues to see tablet computers as a device that will eventually be more cost-effective than buying books, and certainly more productive, for students.

Computers with vision, he said, that can react to movement and recognize objects, similar to the Surface technology Microsoft and partners are developing, will add a new dimension to the computing experience.

Gates also described how 3-D computing, robotics and collaboration tools (plugging the success of Microsoft's SharePoint product) are providing new platforms for productivity that will continue to transform the information technology business.

Finally, Gates shared his observations in visiting universities about how software is becoming an increasingly important component in the evolution of natural sciences such as biology and astronomy, opening up new areas for software development.

What troubles Gates, as he made clear yesterday in testimony before Congress, are laws that continue to force foreign students ' who now make up 60 percent of those pursuing computer science and other advance degrees ' to leave the United States on graduation, robbing the country of much-needed talent.

Posted by Wyatt Kash on Mar 13, 2008 at 9:39 AM

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Reader Comments

Tue, Mar 18, 2008 jgo jgo

RAND CorporationStanfordUrban InstituteHarvardAlfred P. Sloan FoundationGeorgetownRochester Institute of TechnologyUC DavisDukeAll concur that, for decades, we have continually been producing far more STEM workers than we've been employing in STEM careers.

Tue, Mar 18, 2008 jgo jgo

"U.S. engineers... [are] more creative, excelled in problem solving, risk taking, networking and [have] strong analytical skills..."http://www.kermitrose.com/econ200707.html#20070702"Dozens of employers asked to compare American engineers to their much-vaunted colleagues from India and [Red China] agreed that 'in education, training, quality of work, you name it, in every which way, Americans are better'. Even the best schools in those countries 'don't hold a candle to our best schools.', he continues. Newly hired American university graduates 'become productive within 30 days or so. If you hire a graduate of an Indian university, it takes between 3 and 6 months for them to become productive.'"http://www.kermitrose.com/econ200801.html#20080104"Dynamic" vs. "transactional" engineers.http://www.kermitrose.com/econ200512.html#20051213http://www.kermitrose.com/econ200512.html#20051227http://www.kermitrose.com/econ200601.html#20060110"One top-notch engineer is worth '300 times or more than the average', explains Alan Eustace, a Google vice president of engineering."http://www.kermitrose.com/econ200511.html#20051123"The best programmers on the team may be so much better than the rest that just a few of [them] can put out more than all the rest combined." --- Alistair Cockburn 2002 _Agile Software Development_ pg 61

Sat, Mar 15, 2008 Steve Dube

Gates went before government asking to raise the cap on H1b workers - knowing full well that 80% of H1bs go to Indian outsourcing firms not US companies. These foreign companies underpay the going local wage on IT workers and Engineers thereby driving down salaries in those catagories accross the board. Not to mention reducing or eliminating benefits and taxes paid. He has threatened to move work overseas and has built an R&D center in Canada to get the "best and brightest". Well then, what are US programmers and engineers? We built your company. Mr. Gates is all about the buck - while I have no qualms with any foreign worker coming to the US to work and raise a family and most importantly be paid and get benefits - if they are here temporarily to explicitly take a job from a US taxpaying citizen they should be sent home and the company should be fined. My next computer will be an Apple. For more on this see http://www.madnamerica.com

Fri, Mar 14, 2008 Christine Kallivokas VA

Wow, for someone with no vision its hard to believe he is the richest most successful techie alive! Huh who'd a thought.....

Fri, Mar 14, 2008 F.Robert Falbo NY

Let me get this straight... You go to Bill Gates for his "vision" of the future? Go back and look at his track record. He's been wrong amost every time. His idea of "innovation" has been to react to what the real visionaries do. This is a guy who thought the Internet wasn't worth bothering with!

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