"We have been amazed by the response to Vista and what has happened in the last 100 days. So, in the first five weeks of shipping Vista, we have matched the installed base of any other operating system provider," Gates told several hundred attendees in an address entitled "Platform Innovations for Today and Tomorrow."
A recent study by IDC predicted that there would be $120 billion worth of technological innovation as a result of the Windows Vista platform. Home networking will be key to this innovation, and there are "currently millions of homes worldwide with multiple PCs," Gates said.
The growth in home networking will drive the development of peripherals, such as digital picture frames, and Microsoft has focused on the underlying infrastructure so its partners could differentiate with regard to the devices they provided, he said.
The Windows Home Server, designed to help families with multiple PCs connect and share their content, reached the beta stage earlier in 2007 and will be released before the end of the year, Gates said, noting that there will be a system builder version of the product. Customers will get a free domain name when they buy Windows Home Server, and they will be able to remotely access their content from a link in their Web browsers, he said.
While there are four times the number of device drivers for Vista as there were for Windows XP, Microsoft is hoping to have as many of these available for Vista by the end of 2007, with the help of its hardware and device partners, Gates said.
Gates also announced the official name for Windows Server "Longhorn," which is now called Windows Server 2008.
The product will be a step up in terms of reliability, security and extensibility, Gates said, adding that the recently released public beta had seen 100,000 downloads and would be released to manufacturing by the end of the year. "A beta for our hypervisor technology, known as Viridian, will also be released at that time," he said.
Microsoft announced on May 10 that it was cutting a number of core features from Viridian, its upcoming Windows Server virtualization technology, in an effort to meet its quality and shipping goals.
Looking ahead to the future of PCs, there are four areas that will have an impact, Gate said. The first he listed was processor inflection, with 64-bit processor penetration on the rise and rapid adoption expected over the next couple of years. What 64-bit technology brought with it was lots of memory, but for the industry this does mean a change in drivers, "although this is not a dramatic change and the industry is about half-way through getting that done," Gates said.
Other areas of development include form factors and user interface technology. Microsoft is investing billions of dollars in natural user interface technology and voice input will be a natural way of interacting with these new devices, he said.