The future of Windows is a single platform according to Bill Gates

The future of Windows is a single platform according to Bill Gates

Summary: In a recent interview with Steve Clayton, Bill Gates tells everyone what he thinks of Windows 8. As expected, he likes it. But, there's a bit of new information he gives away too.

"Someday, I'm going to be the richest man in the world."

Steve Clayton of "Next at Microsoft" interviews Bill Gates and gets Gates' opinions and impressions of Windows 8. You probably expect Bill to say that he loves Windows 8. He does. But, there's one thing he says that mirrors things that I've said for a very long time: Windows is really headed toward a "single" platform. That means that at some point in the very near future, your Desktop, your Phone and your Tablet will all share the same operating system. That's a significant step in the right direction for computing.

The true significance isn't readily apparent for what a single platform brings to users, both private and corporate. But, it's big. Really big. So big, in fact, that I'm a little surprised that Bill didn't spend more time on it nor did Steve capitalize on it for his interview.

If I ever have the chance to interview Bill Gates, I'd discuss with him.

Since I haven't had that privilege yet, here is why I think that a single platform is huge.

A single platform creates a single environment or "window," if you will, into your computing world. A single platform means that all of your documents, all of your applications, all of your games, all of your browser history and all of your knowledge are kept in one place to be shared by all of your devices that are all exactly alike.

That's huge.

It means that I can buy one set of applications that will run on all of my devices. No "lite" versions or mobile versions required. The other thing it means is that I can have one desktop "personality" for all my devices. I don't have to keep track of three or four different looks, locations or setups. It's almost like having a roaming profile except better.

The thought of a single platform for all devices is exciting for me and for Bill Gates. Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if Bill Gates and Steve Jobs had partnered up in 1975? Can you imagine? But, maybe things do work out for the best. We'll never know what could have been. That's the stuff of science fiction and the movies.

I digress.

Bill also eludes to some other points of interest in his interview. Sometimes you have to listen between the lines. Here are my speculations from that interview:

  1. Microsoft is going to converge all of its OSs into a single OS for all devices.
  2. They're going to incorporate gesturing, think Kinect, into the OS.
  3. Physical keyboards will be obsolete.
  4. On screen keyboards will also be obsolete.
  5. Gesturing and voice control will replace keyboards.
  6. Applications will become OS extensions rather than standalone apps.
  7. App Stores will replace regular software.
  8. Natural interfacing (Touch, gesturing, voice) are the future.

But, for whatever the future brings, it will be interesting to see who'll bring it to us first and who'll bring it to us best. My guess is that no matter who you ask, you'll get a different answer. One thing's for sure, Microsoft isn't sitting on its haunches waiting for Apple to make all of the innovations. I'm expecting big things in the next 18 to 24 months. Watch this space for details.

What do you think of the Bill Gates interview and my speculations? Do you think that we're getting close to a converged platform and more natural interfacing? Talk back and let me know.

Topics: Microsoft, Operating Systems, Windows, Windows 8 in Business


Kenneth 'Ken' Hess is a full-time Windows and Linux system administrator with 20 years of experience with Mac, Linux, UNIX, and Windows systems in large multi-data center environments.

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  • Microsoft had to do this

    Google is doing this and so is Apple. Microsoft had to do this to keep up. And I personally like it. Xbox 720 having a rumored Windows 8 kernel is going to be awesome with Windows 8 and Phone 8!
    Free From Apple
  • "A single platform creates a single environment or "window,..

    if you will, into your computing world"

    That sounds really awesome, one to rule them all, one to rule them all brothers and sisters. Kudos to Microsoft and Bill Gates for that.
    • Standardization

      "Any move toward standardization is a move in the right direction." ~ Dave Williamson
  • Keyboards will never be obsolete

    At least, not until they move up to neural control. Voice is nice. I like voice, it's exceptionally handy. But because I use it, I'm aware that it's not exactly the best input. It's not useful in noisy environments, nor exceptionally quiet ones (i.e. imagine have a library computer lab all run entirely by voice. That's a nice way to make it relatively loud in a hurry). And I somehow doubt that gesturing will ever get to the level where you can both accurately put text on a page for long periods of time (meaning tiny gestures much like...well, typing) as well as teaching everybody to use it properly.

    Maybe there's a better method for text input out there, but voice and gesture isn't it.
    • You also don't want to write programs with voice :)

      So, keyboards are not going away :-)
      Also, you don't want to keep blabbering the whole day, keyboard is much more efficient. I don't see it going away.
      • That depends

        Think about what the term "command interpreter" means, and apply it to software design. In a few years computers should be "smart" enough to understand what you want to perform, and adapt to your requirements. Think Watson for software design.
        • software design

          Software design has nothing to do with both command interpreters and user interface (which are one and the same thing, by the way).

          Microsoft has a lot to learn about software.
          • Wait, wait, wait

            Did you really just say Microsoft has a lot to learn about software? I almost died laughing.
            Fuhrer D
      • I was thinking the same thing...

        We are a software development company and all I could imagine was a sea of developers yelling syntax into their microphones, then saying things like "crap, wait, go back" then having that typed into Visual Studio :-)

        That would be a great Simpsons parody or Dilbert cartoon for sure!
      • Another reason I am not a Siri fan

        I really don't want everyone around me hearing every detail that I am doing. And imagine how much more horribly noisy the world would be if everyone talked to their phones, computers, and tablets for every interaction. It would become maddening.
    • You need a better microphone

      Voice analysis is getting better, but it also needs to be almost instantaneous. For instance, if someone starts off saying "Hello, (insertcomputernamehere)" but rounds out the 'o' as 'oo', the system should apply a flexible rule to adjust for their accent. It should have preconfigured accent roles for various accents already. Why voice recognition software doesn't already have this built in is beyond me. Maybe because it sounds stereotypical or something, but if you hear one accent, whether it be Irish or Indian, everybody speaking in the same accent will sound similar except in the amount of the accent. You certainly wouldn't confuse a Russian accent with a Chinese one either, so if a voice recognition program had rules for what a Russian accent sounded like, it would be different than a Chinese one, but it should be able to adjust based on a relative percentage to other accents. Background noise processing is critical too - this is where a lot of people using voice recognition software don't do their setup properly. If you use voice, you need your voice amplified, and you need noise reduction and echo cancellation for it to work. A good headset improves voice recognition leaps and bounds over using your laptops built-in mic, or an open room option like the Kinect.
      • why voice recognition...

        Because the human brain is still way more powerful than any computer.

        In 20-40 years that might change, though. In either direction :)
    • Even with neural control

      How exactly is that going to be easier than a keyboard? I don't have to think while typing because my hands do most of it automatically. If I want to edit I can easily correct ANYWHERE on a page. Imagine having to think screen coordinates, backspace, delete that bit, "no wait", no wait I didn't mean "no wait I didn't mean that either" and then a girl you really like is looking over your shoulder and asks you something. Its just not going to work. Physical input is here to stay.
      • oh ... and

        voice recognition has its limited uses, but is hardly the future of coding. For anything but the most trivial tasks and queries it is always going to be next to useless.
  • The future of Windows is a single platform according to Bill Gates

    I could listen to Bill Gates talk for hours. The man is a genius. It makes sense for Microsoft Windows to go to one platform so you have easier compatibility between apps and devices. Microsoft is always thinking smarter and not harder.
    Loverock Davidson-
    • How's life under the rock

      What the heck do you think Google and Apple are working towards.

      Not the sharpest knife in the drawer.
      • D.T.Long .... how many years did it take you to figure out

        that Loverock Davidson wasn't as sharp as a butter knife .....Loverock is a reject from Betty Crocker for gods sake..............
        Over and Out
  • Deja Vu

    From the article:
    "Windows is really headed toward a "single" platform. That means that at some point in the very near future, your Desktop, your Phone and your Tablet will all share the same operating system.

    From Mark Shuttleworth of Canonical, Ltd., in October, 2011, on Unity:

    "Ubuntu on phones, tablets, TV’s and smart screens everywhere

    With Ubuntu, the target is 14.04 due out in the Spring, 2014.
    Rabid Howler Monkey
    • Amen!

      I bet Unity will change a lot before 14.04 but I suspect the end result will be a lot close to perfection.
  • That man deserves respect.

    Forget technology, Bill is bringing innovation to medical tech to save lives. Great work.