Gates to Give Glimpse of Microsofts Future

The Microsoft chairman and chief software architect will touch on the latest developments in its productivity business for knowledge workers as well such things as tablet PCs and communications.

SEATTLE – When Bill Gates takes the stage Thursday to deliver the last keynote at Microsofts eleventh annual Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHEC) here, he will talk about the multiple paths his companys roadmap is leading.

The Microsoft Corp. chairman and chief software architect will touch on the latest developments in its productivity business for knowledge workers, including a demonstration of a large panel display in areas like handwriting where big screen displays make sense, Microsoft officials familiar with his address told eWeek on Wednesday.

He is also expected to show some developments in real-time communications, like a phone and PC working together in areas like video, quality of service or better caller ID. He will also most likely show one of the latest designs for the Tablet PC, due for release in the second half of this year, they said.

"On the server and enterprise side, hes expected to highlight all-round scalability and the evolution there. He will probably give a demonstration that shows Windows XP, Windows .Net server and SQL Server 2000 running on HP computers equipped with the next-generation McKinley processors. The demo will involve a high-end application like SAP to show scalability, fault tolerance and failover capabilities," one official said.

On the consumer business side, Gates will also continue to push the Microsoft message that the days of the PC as an island in the home are going away. He is also expected to demonstrate how the PC is now the hub for a range of other devices and technologies that combine to create a versatile PC ecosystem.

As an example of this, Gates will give a demonstration of how a music CD can be burned on a PC using the new pro-compression technique, which gives the CD some 22-hours worth of music. The CD could then be played back on a home stereo, a car stereo or a personal CD player.

"This will show that a CD can be burned with 365 songs that can be played back from multiple areas. This is a good example of how the PC can interact with other consumer devices in terms of media," the official said.

Gates will also announce that Fujitsu Computer Products of America, Inc., NEC Corp., Toshiba Corp. and Wistron Corp. will also be building smart display devices based on its Windows technology, code-named Mira.

Also expected is an announcement that Microsoft will be making a Bluetooth-enabled wireless mouse and keyboard, which are expected to be available before the end of the year. It will also release a software development kitnext month designed to help hardware and software vendors building Bluetooth compatible devices for Windows XP.

Gates is also expected to talk about a new facility Microsoft has built at the Redmond campus, known as the Microsoft Consumer Experience Center. The facility showcases consumer devices in the home and is opened to partners who can use it to show customers and others how these products are currently used.

Gates is expected to wrap up his keynote by talking about Microsofts Trustworthy Computing initiative. Hell also show attendees the Web site it used for collecting information when people report errors for Windows XP.

"These go into a database, which we can now use to provide our partners with quicker feedback on whether thats a driver problem or other issue and then allow then to create a patch.

"This will get these fixes out there more quickly and will proactively begin to make PCs more reliable in peoples minds as less of them will have the issue as its identified, corrected and distributed far more quickly than we ever could in any other version of Windows," the official said.