Bill Gates, founder and former CEO of Microsoft, recently sat down for a question-and-answer session with Reddit AMA. Among the questions fielded by readers were inquiries regarding Gates' use of a Mac, his position on an open Internet, and his relationship with the late Steve Jobs.
Perhaps the most intriguing question came from a reader who wanted to know where Gates thought personal computing will be heading in the future. Equally intriguing was the answer that flowed from the software wizard's keyboard. If Gates is correct, not only will personal computing be drastically different, so will networking and unified communications.
Smartphones and Tablets Temporary
In his answer, Gates all but conceded that smartphones and tablets rule the consumer computing world of today. He noted their convenience as one of the top reasons they are so well received. However, he also believes mobile computing in this way is only temporary.
Gates envisions a world where more universal devices providing multiple functionality will one day dominate the personal computing landscape. He also sees technologies like voice recognition, handwriting recognition, and bio security features becoming commonplace. Truth be told, he is probably not far off.
Just as an example, this author produces all his content using voice recognition software from Nuance. The popular Dragon Naturally Speaking package is capable of such accurate voice recognition it can be used to completely control the entire computing experience in the hands (or should we say “the mouth”) of an experienced user.
Not only that, Toshiba and other companies have been working on software that can react to instructions given by a web cam following the eyes of a computer user. The new Windows 8 operating system is rumoured to have the capability of being controlled just by the eyes. Users allegedly navigate by looking in one direction or another and blinking to activate and deactivate applications.
The Future of Networking
The undercurrent of all this new technology is twofold: consumption-based networking and unified communications across unlimited platforms and geographic boundaries. But there is a catch. Personal computing technology is moving along faster than networking. To counter this, IT companies and data centre operators are pouring financial resources into new technologies like never before.
If the brave new world of computing Gates envisions is to come to pass, the world's network providers need to aggressively pursue fibre optics and other emerging technologies. And doing so requires more than just white papers and technology magazine blogs. It requires serious financial investments and quite a bit of risk taking.
In this, Bill Gates offers a valuable lesson as well. He did not build Microsoft into the giant it has become by being passive or cautious. He and his executive staff forged ahead over the course of several decades to define personal computing as we know it. Following his example is the blueprint for one technology company to become the leader of the IT and international networking world.
Is Bill Gates a technology visionary or a tired philanthropist? Only time will tell…