Gates Charts Computing Future at MIT

Speaking to MIT students, Microsoft's chairman touched on a range of topics, from blocking spam to future innovations including a Portable Media Center and improvements in screen technologies.

CAMBRIDGE, Mass.—Microsoft Corp. Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates lectured computer science students Thursday about using computing technology to combat scourges of the present and create new opportunities in the future, while painting a vision of a more interconnected, integrated technology world.

Gates, speaking to Massachusetts Institute of Technology students at MITs Kresge Auditorium here, predicted that Moores Law—that processing power doubles every 18 months—will continue to hold true for the next "10 to 15 years," promising more technology innovation in its wake. Meanwhile, he noted, improvements in storage technology are progressing even faster than improvements in microprocessor technology.

One of the new technologies this will yield is a Microsoft product called the Portable Media Center, which will boast 40GB of storage space for movies, video files and photos, all in a handheld device.

Gates also spoke of forthcoming improvements in screen technologies, promising larger, higher-resolution monitors on desktops. The desktop neednt be tethered though.

"The idea of connecting a computer to a screen will become obsolete," Gates said, predicting that multiple screens could be associated with the same CPU, without wires.

Such a vision isnt limited to displays. Disk storage and peripheral devices would also be separate from the PC, with connectivity through wireless networks. Gates referred to this as the "disaggregation" of the PC.

He also predicted Microsofts Tablet PC technology will be the wave of the future.

"All portable devices will eventually become tablet devices," Gates said.

On the software side, Gates spoke of linking applications with "visual business processes" rather than code, enabling non-technical users to accomplish the task.

"The information visibility that an information worker has today is extremely low," said Gates.

Next page: Sharing a laugh over spam.