Gates talks evolution of PCs at WinHEC

NEW ORLEANS – Simplifying user experience through collaboration and interoperability was high on the agenda of Microsoft Corp.’s Chief Software Architect Bill Gates Tuesday, as he revealed some new strategies that the company hopes will continue to drive PC usage at the annual Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHEC) this week in New Orleans.

In his keynote address, Gates spoke of great plans for the PC tweaking everything from LCD displays to a prototype demo of the “Athens” PC in which all things previously only dreamed of can be possible.

As part of this, Microsoft re-introduced its Dynamic Systems Initiative (DSI) for the data centre, an architecture now rolling out with Microsoft’s Windows 2003 server. The DSI architecture integrates requirements from all aspects of the data life-cycle from operations to development to deployment. With DSI, businesses can use one model to track what is expected from applications to what actually takes place, Gates explained. The underlying bonus to the enterprise is realized in less time to provision and configure resources, as well as less manpower to get it done.

“There is no pulling cables, no racking hardware and no complexity,” said Galen Hunt, group program manager with Microsoft’s Windows Client Group.

A collaboration with Hewlett-Packard Co., the “Athens” PC prototype dream machine comes with speakers, a camera, a wireless telephone handset, Bluetooth technology and more – all built directly into the desktop. The model allows for interchangeable speaker and handset telephone calls, features one-touch keyboard do not disturb and record buttons, and integrates unified communications through a simple user interface. The software allows for different usage scenarios including reverse caller ID lookup, whereby a user can trace incoming calls resulting in more effective communication. The prototype also features a standby mode, which is expected to cut power costs by approximately US$95 per unit per year.

Microsoft has also expanded its diagnosis abilities to include feedback software, whereby PC users can receive information on problems within their systems. Reports are sent to a Microsoft Web site, which establishes causes of common errors and sends feedback to users with solutions to the problems. Gates said Microsoft plans to enable its corporate customers to have access to a similar functionality, enabling enterprise customers to see which applications are having problems.

“With the PC platform, we are making moves to the data centre, simplifying management complexity, [building] new form factors and [establishing] new customer scenarios,” Gates said. “It is all complementary to our commitment to keep working with partners to continue to drive the PC forward and drive functionality to make it better than ever.”