wasting bandwidth since 1999

Looking Beyond The Vista

The future according to Bill Gates.

The way people interact with computers is going to dramatically change in the next five years, Microsoft chief Bill Gates has told BBC News.

He predicted that the keyboard and mouse would gradually give way to more intuitive and natural technologies.

In particular, he said, touch, vision and speech interfaces would become increasingly important.

Ok, so far. However, then he adds a plug for the Big Monopoly’s coffee table-sized Surface computer.

During the interview Mr Gates showed off the Microsoft Surface computer, a large table like machine with a multi-touch interface.

“I’ll be brave, in five years we’ll have many tens of million of people sitting browsing their photos, browsing their music, organising their lives using this type of touch interface,” he said.

I’m certainly not good at forecasting the future but I wonder just how Gates figures there will be “tens of millions of people” buying this machine.

The overwhelming trend is toward portable devices. People want their music, photos, and other media to be available wherever they happen to be.

Not anchored to a big box in their living room.

And is anyone really surprised by the fact he has no Macs in his house? Which is OK, since I have no Windows machines in mine. :-)

bill gates, predictions, future, microsoft


  1. Peter Rock

    I agree with you. Though there will be a niche for this type of technology, I don’t think table-sized computers that lack portability will be all that common. Of course, we’re not long off to having billions of computer users in the world. So, 20 or 30 million table-sized computer users would be a pretty small percentage.

    I see mainstream future computing directly tied more so to the evolution of laptop-like devices, not coffee tables.

  2. Scott S. Floyd

    If he makes that tabletop a flat wall mount clear monitor that is all touch interface, and then he makes it affordable, then he might be correct. Then again, Microsoft does not make much of anything affordable, so I am not holding my breath.

  3. Dave

    Wikipedia says that Apple expects to sell 10 million iPhones by the end of fiscal year 2008. Considering other devices as well, I’ll up the ante on Bill Gates and say that “we’ll have many tens of million of people sitting browsing their photos, browsing their music, organising their lives using this type of touch interface” in one year.

    I would imagine, also, that there may eventually be a very affordable commercial version of the wiimote psuedo-smartboard setup, but that it won’t really be successful because there won’t be a big enough marketing push.

  4. Trina

    I agree–the trend seems to be toward portability. A big touch interface might be good for some, fairly specialized, applications, but overall I think we’re heading toward a touch interface you can carry around in your purse or your hip pocket. Like, hmmm… the iPhone or the iPod Touch, maybe? :-)

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