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By GCN Staff

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The Next Tech Revolution

Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer was in Washington yesterday to visit military clients and deliver the keynote address at the AeA's Annual Technology for Government dinner. Nearly 700 government and industry information technology officials turned out to hear Ballmer, who, in characteristic form, delivered an animated, upbeat vision for the future of technology.

Ballmer used the occasion to sketch out his sense for the next revolution in technology ' the fifth he's witnessing, he said, in his 28 years at Microsoft.

The first four revolutions were largely defined by the dawn of the personal computer, graphical user interface, Internet and Web 2.0, he said. The next revolution, however, is taking shape in a new era of digital agility and productivity powered by emerging hardware and software platforms.

Ballmer outlined how advances in computer processors, storage, wireless broadband networks and screen technologies during the next two to five years will put a vast world of information at people's fingertips. Among the more intriguing prospects he mentioned were the advent of intelligent paper that can be updated from computing devices as an alternative to the monitor and evolution of interactive horizontal and vertical surfaces.

On the software front, Ballmer spoke about what he called natural user interfaces ' long-promised applications that are materializing to make it much easier for computers to respond to speech, touch, sight and even familiar behaviors.

Ballmer said Microsoft and the software community at large have to simplify the software development process and make software easier to use by one to two orders of magnitude.

He also noted that as information, including media, moves digitally over the Internet ' with increasing amounts of it existing in the Internet cloud ' the ability to assemble the right information remains a challenge. 'The ability to find and analyze information will grow profoundly' during the next few years, Ballmer said.

In response to a question from the audience, he also addressed the importance of advertising in the digital world. The battle for future advertising revenue was a central factor in Microsoft's recent move to buy Yahoo. Balmer suggested the estimated $550 billion-a-year advertising market could follow one of two scenarios: It could grow as more players move into the online media marketplace, or it could contract slightly, given signs that social-networking media aren't drawing the advertising volume originally envisioned. The marketplace will determine the outcome, he said. And in either event, he predicted that software will play an increasing role in how advertising is rendered and sold.

Posted by Wyatt Kash on Jun 04, 2008 at 9:39 AM


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