Software agents, XML and wireless networks would be some of the major driving forces bringing the Web into our daily lives, Microsoft chairman Bill Gates told Comdex Sunday night.
The annual Comdex show in Las Vegas has been a happy hunting ground for Gates. He gave his first Comdex keynote in 1983 and announced Windows here in 1985. He received a rapturous welcome from the crowd and rode the wave of affection with a few wry remarks about his recent trying times with the US government and their anti-trust suit against Microsoft.
"Has anybody here heard any good lawyer jokes recently," he said, to much amusement.
"It's great to know that all over America there are entrepreneurs working in their garages. Also there are lawyers working in their 20th floor offices, both groups working to do what they do best...on a serious note...," he said, choosing not to elaborate on what he thought the latter might be.
He said he had received a lot of mail in the last week in which the overall sentiments were that the PC industry and Microsoft had benefited consumers immensely and that instead of doing less innovation in Windows, Microsoft should do more innovation in Windows.
The theme of his talk was on the market shift toward the increasing use of the Internet devices in our daily lives - what he terms the personal Web. He said he believed the Internet would be the primary way that people get audio and video in the future, but that people would have home networks where the PC acted as a server for a range of other home appliances and devices.
He said one of Microsoft's mantras was now "any time, any place, any device."
He showed off a range of new Windows CE client devices, resembling lightweight laptops but with little more than memory, a keyboard and a screen, that could be used to connect to the Internet and download applications as needed. Manufacturers with devices on display included Compaq, Phillips, Acer and television and monitor company Vestel.
He previewed one new application, Microsoft Application Centre, for managing traffic loads on Web servers. This would help Windows 2000 servers failover when one server in a cluster goes down and in quickly transferring data and settings to additional servers that can be slotted in as required.
He also said Microsoft was investing a lot of resources in a set of development tools to help people designing websites around XML, a technology for creating Web pages.
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