LAS VEGAS, Nov. 11, 2001 — Giving his annual “state of the industry” keynote speech at this year’s COMDEX Fall 2001, Microsoft Corp. Chairman and Chief Software architect Bill Gates set out his vision for a “Digital Decade” that will revolutionize the way companies do business, and how people around the world communicate, learn and are entertained. Unveiling prototypes of the new Tablet PC, Gates predicted that the Tablet would become the most popular form of PC within five years. He also announced strong initial sales of Microsoft® Windows®
XP, a product he said was crucial to the Digital Decade, and one that is already ushering in a new era of secure computing. For the enterprise, Gates showed new Microsoft .NET technologies, and announced a new price and performance record for Windows running on a single Unisys computer. He closed by giving a sneak preview of Microsoft’s Xbox (TM) gaming console, forecasting that it would change the face of gaming forever.
“The appetite of businesses and consumers worldwide for innovative PC technologies is stronger than ever,” Gates said, speaking to a capacity crowd of some 15,000 COMDEX Fall 2001 attendees at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
“In just the two weeks since the global launch of Windows XP, Microsoft has already sold an amazing 7 million copies of Windows XP, which we are incredibly excited about,” Gates said, referring to the total number of copies sold to computer makers and at retail. “We believe that Windows XP, along with exciting new technologies such as the Tablet PC, Xbox, Microsoft .NET Servers and XML Web services, will light a fire of innovation across the entire high-technology industry.”
He continued, “A key reason for the early success of Windows XP is its incredibly strong security — it has literally hundreds of security improvements over Windows 98, making it the most secure Windows operating system ever. In addition, our goal of enabling a single code base to operate across both your PCs and your servers offers immense benefits — it takes the security of your network to a whole new level. Microsoft’s mission is to create computer networks that are orders of magnitude more secure than anything we’ve seen before.”
Gates’ presentation demonstrated how the power and flexibility of Windows XP, combined with the innovative work of numerous industry hardware and software partners, is already spawning an entirely new, breakthrough generation of the PC — the Tablet PC. For the first time, Gates unveiled prototypes of the Tablet PC made by leading computer makers such as Acer Inc., Compaq Computer Corp., Fujitsu PC Corp. and Toshiba America Information Systems, and announced that these machines will go on sale in the second half of 2002.
The size of a legal notepad and half the weight of most of today’s laptop PCs, the Tablet PC is a full-powered, full-featured PC that runs Windows XP and combines the power of desktop computing with the flexibility and portability of a pen and paper notepad.
“The PC took computing out of the back office and into everyone’s office,” said Gates. “The Tablet takes cutting-edge PC technology and makes it available wherever you want it, which is why I’m already using a Tablet as my everyday computer. It’s a PC that is virtually without limits — and within five years I predict it will be the most popular form of PC sold in America.”
Gates demonstrated several advanced partner applications designed for the Tablet PC. These included a Tablet version of Groove, the revolutionary real-time collaboration software; a portable version of Autodesk’s CAD software; and enhancements to Microsoft Office software that enable people to exchange handwritten instant messages and annotate Word and PowerPoint®
documents. By the time the Tablet PC launches next year, literally hundreds of applications will be available that are optimized for the Tablet PC and take full advantage of its capabilities. He also emphasized that because it runs Windows XP, the Tablet PC is a fully-fledged, secure Microsoft .NET client machine that natively supports the .NET Framework.
Throughout his keynote, Gates was upbeat about the future of the computer industry and the economy. “The events of the past few months have demonstrated the urgent need to re-energize the world economy and the importance of global unity,” he said. “The wave of hardware and software innovation we’re now seeing will provide the impetus for renewed investment in information technology across every business and economic sector. The productivity gains that technology will drive during this Digital Decade will be double those of the 1990s. At the same time, new digital communication technology will continue to shrink the globe, helping to bring people closer together and breaking down barriers between nations. It promises a new global language for a new world.
“Despite the current slowdown, we’ll see at least a thirtyfold increase in e-commerce spending over the next 10 years, a quadrupling of the number of e-mail addresses, and even faster growth in instant messaging. Today, more than half of America’s homes have PCs; by 2010, three-quarters will have at least one, and many will have two or three. In this Digital Decade, computing technology will transform every part of our lives — and fulfill the promise of truly secure, truly personal computing.”
In his presentation, Gates also showcased an end-to-end XML Web services solution based on Microsoft .NET technologies. Using the familiar Office XP interface to connect with Web services, Gates demonstrated an easy-to-use expense application that accesses multiple Web sites to generate personal expense reports, and showed how it could be used with Microsoft’s new Pocket Expense product. Demonstrating a Microsoft .NET-based supply-chain management solution, Gates then showed how Microsoft .NET platform and server technologies are almost infinitely customizable and scalable. This point was underscored by his announcement of a new record Microsoft-Unisys TPC-C performance benchmark for Windows running on a single Unisys ES7000 computer, which is faster and less expensive than the best performance that Sun Microsystems Inc. has ever demonstrated for this benchmark.
“In recent years, many industries have tried to create ‘mass customization’ for their products and services,” Gates said. “With Microsoft .NET and the common fabric of XML Web services, the reality goes far beyond that dream. For the first time, companies can customize their products and services to the needs of each individual customer, and offer them over the Web in seamless collaboration with their partners. Microsoft .NET helps pave the way for broad adoption of XML Web services that will revolutionize the ability of companies to serve their customers.”
To illustrate this premise, Gates described how a growing number of industry-leading companies, including Dollar Rent A Car Systems Inc., Verizon Communications Inc. and Expedia Inc., are already using .NET technologies to transform the way they do business. He also pointed to rapidly growing developer interest in the .NET platform, as evidenced by the record 7,000 developers who attended the recent Microsoft Professional Developers Conference held in Los Angeles.
Gates ended his presentation with a sneak preview of Microsoft’s new Xbox gaming console, due to be launched Nov. 15 in New York. “Xbox offers game developers the most powerful gaming platform ever, and gives game enthusiasts an incredible, realistic experience unlike any other gaming console,” he said. “Our goal was to create the future of gaming. That future arrives Thursday, and gaming will never be the same again.”
Gates highlighted the fact that Xbox is the first and only gaming console that can be “locked down” so parents can prevent access to inappropriate content. And as part of his presentation, Gates showed two games — “NFL Fever” and the never-before-seen “Wreckless,” available in early 2002 — that highlighted the lightning-fast graphics and breathtaking realism of the Xbox platform. He also gave away four Xboxes to audience members, chosen by a random drawing of seat positions at the keynote speech.
Gates concluded, “Everything you’ve seen here tonight is about realizing potential — the economic potential of the United States and every other nation; the potential of your company, regardless of what business it is in; your personal potential, whether as a gamer or a knowledge worker; and the potential of our incredible high-technology industry to yet again take computing into a new and exciting era. The Digital Decade is here, now — and it will touch and improve the lives of every single one of us.”
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and Internet technologies for personal and business computing. The company offers a wide range of products and services designed to empower people through great software — any time, any place and on any device.
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