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Gates wraps up MS show

Microsoft's CEO ends the Professional Developers Conference with a preview of the company?s developments in human interaction with computers and more hype for NT.

    Microsoft (MSFT) CEO Bill Gates closed this week's Professional Developers Conference by offering Windows programmers a glimpse of future developments in human interaction with computers and stressing the bets the company is making on Windows NT.

    In a series of demonstrations, Gates showed how computers are slowly but surely recognizing and reacting to the typical movements of human beings. One demonstration even placed sounds--cymbals crashing and drums booming--to the associated physical movements. The 41-year-old CEO said he would stake his reputation on a future computer interface that takes advantage of speech recognition and human movements and minimizes input through the keyboard and mouse.

    "The synthesis we are looking for here is a far more intelligent computer system," Gates told a crowd of developers that had thinned from its peak earlier this week.

    The executive also stressed that NT would be the common base, even as computer interfaces moved into this more natural, interactive area. He repeated a refrain of the conference that the company is "betting its future" on Windows NT 5.0.

    Gates predicted that within ten years a major part of the operating system would be taken up by tools that allow linguistic capabilities, and that microprocessor makers such as Intel would need to be in step to take advantage of these developments.

    Developers got a chance to ask questions at the close of Gates's discussion. Among the notable comments included the following:

  • Gates predicted "more modern" DSL (digital subscriber lines) would become more prevalent than ISDN as a means to connect computers via modems.

  • The CEO said he would welcome Java being accepted by the International Standards Organization. He said that Sun Microsystems, by calling Java a standard and retaining control of its future, is "trying to have its cake and eat it too."

  • On another standards front, Gates said COM+, the next generation of COM, would not be offered to the Open Group until the company gets some feedback from developers on the enhancements.