8 January 2002 Bill Gates, co-founder and chairman of Microsoft, has outlined his vision for the future of the US software giant.
His message was clear: He wants Microsoft to become the key supplier of consumer home entertainment technology. Gates was speaking at the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Gates said: “What we mean when we talk about integrated computing is that, as you move from device to device, your information is there for you.” And he added: “This trustworthiness will have to be an element of all the different devices. That’s … a challenge we can meet.”
Gates dwelt on the fact that there is increasing convergence between software development, the output of media companies and the consumer electronics sector. The company is in a position to supply the software platform needed for inter-operability to work across a range of devices, Gates implied.
In his keynote address, Gates spelt out his vision of a world of “smart devices” sharing services and applications and seamlessly communicating with each other – with Microsoft supplying the technology backbone to make it all possible.
The smart devices in question include next-generation mobile phones, wide-screen televisions, handheld computers, mini-screen devices, and gadgets such as the ‘IceBox’, a screen fitted into the bottom of a kitchen cabinet.
The centrepiece of Gates vision includes the Windows XP operating system, its Windows CE and Pocket PC 2002 embedded and handheld computer operating systems and the Xbox, its computer game console.
Gates also trumpeted the company’s encouraging results. These included the claim that 17 million copies of Windows XP had been sold since its launch in October 2001 – most of them pre-loaded with new machines rather than retail sales. Microsoft claims that this makes it the most successful version of Windows ever.
Gates also unveiled various new products such as the latest generation of Windows CE for handheld computers, called ‘Windows CE.net’, and two extensions of XP – ‘Freestyle’ and ‘Mira’.