NEW ORLEANS—The current Windows interface does not take advantage of todays advanced graphics capabilities, so the next version of Windows, code-named Longhorn, is being designed to do so, Microsoft Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates told the several hundred attendees of his keynote at the here.
Detailing what he saw as key Microsoft advances over the past year, Gates cited in his WinHEC keynote address, titled "New Frontiers for Hardware and Software," the advances in the companys Trustworthy Computing initiative, noting that last months release of was the first major product release since Microsoft started that initiative.
He also cited advances in interoperability and robustness. "We have seen the fastest transition to Windows XP than to any other operating system we have shipped, largely because of its richness and robustness. The uninstalled base of Windows 9x has dropped dramatically as people upgrade to and test Windows XP," he said.
Breakthroughs over the past year included Wi-Fi; cameras and printers; LCD screen sizes, which grew as prices fell; and Web services, the foundation for interoperability. Meanwhile, the tools that made this possible grew at breakneck speed, as did 64-bit support.
"This is a computing environment where the devices all have to work together," Gates said. "The transition across devices needs to be simple. As we get new hardware we need to drive new software and turn this into a new user experience. Take the relationship between the PC and the phone, where integration between the two is critical and is influencing PC hardware."
Looking ahead, the rapid growth in hardware capacity will continue, as will the "phenomenal" increase in graphics processing, he said. "We understand parallelism in the graphics realm far better than in the general-purpose code execution world," he said.
Fundamentally, the trajectory for the next four to five years is solid, enabling things like speech and ink to advance, as well as improved search capabilities, Gates said. Gates talked about a new scroll wheel and set of buttons, known as XEEL, for navigating Windows-powered devices with one hand. Microsoft designed the controls for hardware makers to add to phones, computers and Tablet PCs.
Gates also showed a lighthearted video that chronicled the history of the computer from the Altair and that included cameo appearances from singer Puff Daddy, former President Bill Clinton, and businessman and investor Warren Buffet.