Gates: 64-Bit Transition Will Happen Rapidly

At the WinHEC developer conference, Bill Gates tackles the company's transition to 64-bit computing for both clients and servers as well as new Tablet form factor that he says will be "a camera, a phone, a music device that will be complementary to

SEATTLE—Microsoft chairman and chief software architect Bill Gates on Monday laid to rest talk that Microsoft might be scaling back its commitment to the Tablet PC, saying there will be a major new version of the Tablet operating system in the Longhorn timeframe.

In his opening keynote address here at WinHEC (the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference) before several thousand attendees, Gates also reiterated Microsofts call for developers to start building 64-bit device drivers to meet the burgeoning user demand for them.

/zimages/4/28571.gifClick here to read how the current state of 64-bit driver support is a mixed bag."

Gates also demonstrated several new prototypes of the Tablet hardware, including one in which the screen slides up and down off the keyboard.

Microsoft Corp. and Intel Corp. are backing the idea of an auxiliary display and are working with OEM Acer around this. The companies aim to let users get information such as the time, their e-mail and their meeting details on a small, auxiliary display that does not power up the actual computer.

Microsoft also is looking at an ultra-thin Tablet, in the $800 price range, currently known as the Ultra Mobile 2007. This would weight about a pound and would have an all-day battery life.

"We do believe this is achievable," Gates said, adding that the device would be "a camera, a phone, a music device that will be complementary to the PC."

"I dont expect it to replace the PC, but rather be an addition to that. The hottest device will be this ultra-mobile PC, and we are hard at work on that with our partners," he said.

Gates said the edge of the network has always played an important role in digital computing, and that enabling all devices and software to talk to one another at the edge is essential going forward. That scenario has been at the heart of Microsofts .Net vision, he said.

"We need to build more experiences that leverage what the edge is best at: telephony, voice, ink and peer-to-peer, which we will see built in at the platform level in Longhorn, the next version of Windows, for the first time," he said.

/zimages/4/28571.gifClick here to read about why Microsoft exec Jim Allchin says Longhorn is much more than just another service pack.

"We have the driver model ready for you, and that is locked down and ready to go. We are giving you the opportunity to work with us in partnership on that. Longhorn is very broad; what we are doing there is very broad and is truly the next-generation platform from us," Gates said.

In a Longhorn demonstration, Arvin Mishra, a Windows product manager, showed how Longhorn will go beyond search, helping users organize content the way they would in their heads. He also talked about a new, fixed document format, Metro, which he said will be "available free to the world."

"These documents can be created on any platform and shared to the world," Mishra said, adding that any Metro-compatible printer will gain a new and enhanced printing experience.

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