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Gates Shows Off Gee-Wiz Software Features

Las Vegas--Microsoft chair Bill Gates used his 90-minute speech here this morning to outline in broad strokes some futuristic software features planned for future Microsoft Office versions.

Contrary to most press reports, Gates touched only lightly on Net-related topics. He concentrated instead on Windows 95 and the future of desktop computing. Gates did talk about one Net-related tale, however. "The breadth of the impact of the Internet struck me just the other day. I was headed to my car when a guy asked me for some change. He told me he had a URL so I gave him five bucks. For all I know this was a homeless guy with a home page."

Gates's interactive presentation featured a home movie set in the mythical town of Kelseyville--a quaint place where townspeople carry high-powered color notebooks with at least 32MB of RAM. The movie showed characters using highly integrated desktop applications infused with Intellisense. In the demo, the Intellisense-enabled program supported audio- and videoconferencing, scheduling, project-based workstations, and integrated Net data fetching.

Future versions of Microsoft desktop applications will feature support for Internet publishing that understands both printer and programming languages, Gates said. To make these kinds of advances possible, matching strides in hardware technology will be required, Gates added. "We do need faster processors in the next few years," he said. Communications hardware will need to be built into future systems. Cable-modem technology will also play an important role in bringing Gee-Wiz technology to home and business users, he said. "The goal is to empower users," Gates stressed. Reactions to the speech were mixed. "I liked the Gerstner speech yesterday better," said one attendee. "I liked the way he intertwined the movie with the speech, it made it easier to follow," said another listener.