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Bill Gates Exit Interview and Natural Interface

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We still have not heard from Bill Gates regarding Tablets and the community, but PC Magazine recently did an “exit interview” with him, and covered the perceived hits / misses.

On Natural Interface technologies, like vision, speech, and ink:

M: Over the years,
you have also talked about a number of technologies that you thought
were going to be successful but haven’t reached mainstream appeal as
much as I think you thought they would: SPOT, tablet PCs,
speech recognition, stuff like that. What do you think it is: a
software or hardware problem, or just society? Why did some things
become incredibly popular and some things stay more or less as niches?

B: Look what was written down from when Paul and I started
Microsoft. Half the things we dreamed of as scenarios for software to
solve are still in front of us.

Natural interface including speech, and the kind of inking that
comes out on the tablet. My prognosis, you can call it stubbornness, is
simply that it is not ready for the mainstream yet. We have to keep
improving the software and hardware. But I have no doubt that the
current way we interact—which is overwhelmingly a keyboard and mouse
way—in the next decade will be changed deeply. Not that it will go
away, but it will be supplemented by speech, vision, ink-type things.
And this is the kind of issue where Microsoft gets to put billions of
dollars behind those beliefs.

The tablet: it’s taken off in some niches. There are millions sold a
year, but not tens of millions. My belief is that we will get to
hundreds of millions. So we are a factor of 100 away from what I wanted
to happen and I believe will happen, where every student instead of
having paper textbooks has this great device connected to the Internet
that allows them to edit, create, record voice, browse, in this very
deep way.

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