With the third decade of Microsoft® Windows® fast approaching, Microsoft Corp. Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates today predicted that 64-bit computing, together with the newest versions of the company’s premier operating system, will ignite the most promising era yet of industrywide innovation.
During his keynote speech at the Microsoft Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHEC) 2005, Gates announced the general availability of Microsoft Windows XP Professional x64 Edition and Windows Server™ 2003×64 Editions, and offered a glimpse at the opportunities created for software and hardware developers by these faster, more-secure and more-powerful operating systems. Gates also demonstrated how the next version of the Windows operating system, code-named “Longhorn,” will put even more of the power of 64-bit computing to work for people.
“The next decade will bring about a new wave of innovation in the technology industry through the increased security, greater reliability and faster performance enabled by 64-bit computing and continued advances in Windows,” Gates said. ”’Longhorn’ and the new x64-bit versions of Windows are the best foundation for a new generation of faster, more powerful hardware and software that expands the possibilities for computing and transforms the way we work and play.”
Third Decade of Windows to Transform the Way People Live, Work and Play
An audience of 2,800 developers, engineers and technology enthusiasts heard Gates trace the evolution of the Windows-based PC from a stand-alone “box” in the den to a range of connected devices in sizes and shapes that let people work and play in ways they never imagined two decades ago. Since the debut of Windows 1.0 in the fall of 1985, Gates explained, the PC has been transformed from a single-purpose machine for technology enthusiasts into an entertainment and productivity hub for people of all ages and interests—at home and at work. Most significantly, as these capabilities have grown, they have become increasingly accessible to people wherever and whenever they need them. Gates cited the growth of the Windows XP Media Center Edition, which has sold more than 2 million units, as a sign that the PC is rapidly gaining momentum as the hub for digital entertainment.
“Technology that was once locked away on centralized servers, like ultra-fast connectivity and high-performance computing power, is now right where people want it—on their desktops, in their living rooms and in their hands,” Gates said.
x64 Windows Increases Security, Computing Power
The ongoing evolution of the microprocessor—from 16 bit to 32 bit and now to 64 bit, which will be mainstream for both client and servers by the end of 2006—will enable the industry to provide even more advanced computing experiences and address remaining challenges, Gates said. The new x64 versions of Windows will take advantage of 64-bit architecture advances that help block some of the most destructive worms and exploits of recent years. Users of x64 Windows also will realize dramatic improvement with processor-intensive applications, such as video editing and gaming, and when managing their growing stockpiles of e-mail, photos and other files on most PCs.
Innovative New Experiences for Tablet and Mobile PCs
The third decade of Windows will usher in similarly profound changes in PC hardware. Gates urged hardware-makers to embrace some of the latest innovations in mobile PC technologies to create a more natural PC experience and provide easier access to information, as well as to differentiate their products. In addition to highlighting recent releases from Toshiba TAIS Digital Products Division and HP that integrate Tablet PC technology into mainstream notebook PCs, Gates shared next-generation mobile Tablet PC features and hardware designs from Taiwan-based manufacturers Acer Inc. and ASUSTeK Computer Inc. (ASUS), and a prototype of an “ultra-mobile” Tablet PC. Details include the following:
*Carry everywhere. An ultra-mobile concept PC set for 2007 makes the PC more personal, offers multiple modes of natural interaction, a 7-inch-wide screen and all-day battery life, and is always connected.
*Always available. Acer’s next-generation Tablet PC quickly converts from a laptop to a slate-like computer and is ready for use instantly.
*Auxiliary displays. An ASUS-designed auxiliary display concept for mobile and desktop PCs and peripheral devices, such as cell phones, remote controls, keyboards and watches, offers immediate access to calendars, recent e-mail, digital media and other data. It would also offer updates on the status of the PC while the machine is turned off or the lid of a mobile PC is closed.
Microsoft and hardware-makers are displaying many of these and other technologies that take advantage of “Longhorn” functionality in the Hardware Showcase and 64-bit Fast Lane booths at WinHEC.
“Longhorn” Transforms PC Fundamentals
Gates also emphasized the opportunities created for hardware manufacturers by the dramatic enhancements that Windows “Longhorn” will make to the fundamentals of computing. Planned fundamental changes include these:
*Security. Integrated anti-malware will help shield PCs and their users from adware, spyware, “phishing” scams and other threats. Protected user accounts will greatly reduce the threat to users’ systems without affecting user productivity, while the more-secure startup process will help protect data and ensure that a PC running “Longhorn” hasn’t been tampered with.
*Deployment. A single code base and hardware abstraction layer for all versions and languages will make desktop engineering easier. Image-based setup will replace manual installation of programs, while new tools and services will help large organizations greatly simplify operating system deployment to desktops—even those with different configurations and different languages.
*Manageability. Integrated hot-patching technology will enable system administrators to update systems without rebooting the PC. These features, along with better automation and remote administration tools, will let administrators better handle daily desktop management tasks.
Gates illustrated how “Longhorn” is expected to make data more accessible and easy to act on in the following ways:
*Visualization. Folders and icons graphically depict their actual content, providing live snapshots of the document to help users intuitively understand the state and contents.
*Intuitive organization. Documents can be created or organized, based on metadata, in terms of their authors, subjects or keywords—or by artist, song title or album for music.
*Advanced document technology. A set of advanced document technologies includes a cross-platform, open XML document format that allows customers to effortlessly create, share, print and archive documents. These “fixed layout” documents can be viewed or printed without the application in which they were created, while maintaining their advanced color and graphics.
Those attending WinHEC also received a developer preview of “Longhorn,” designed to accelerate development of hardware device drivers for the new operating system. The first beta release of “Longhorn” is planned for summer 2005.
Microsoft Builds Anticipation, Readiness for “Longhorn”
Gates called on hardware-makers to develop products that take advantage of all these innovations. He highlighted a range of investments that Microsoft is making to help industry partners deliver the advances enabled by “Longhorn” to their customers. Gates unveiled the following programs:
*“Longhorn”-Ready PC Program. Microsoft announced guidance for hardware requirements for future “Longhorn”-Ready PCs. These hardware requirements include a modern CPU, 512 MB of RAM and “Longhorn” Display Driver-capable graphics. The “Longhorn”-Ready PC program will help customers make quality decisions when purchasing PCs before the release of “Longhorn.”
*“Longhorn” Logo Program will designate products that are not only compatible with “Longhorn” but take advantage of new “Longhorn” capabilities. Qualifying for the new “premium” level logo will differentiate partner products with the clear, trusted promise of a great “Longhorn” computing experience and will be backed by Microsoft’s investments in high-impact marketing activities. Similar to the current Designed for Windows XP program, the “standard” level ensures products meet baseline standards for compatibility, reliability and security. Technical requirements for the new two-tier program are available today at http://partner.microsoft.com/gobal/winlogo.
*Next-Gen Windows OS PC Design Competition. Microsoft and the Industrial Designers Society of America will spotlight developers of innovative PC designs in three categories: the Chairman’s Award, selected by Gates and his advisers; the Judge’s Award, selected by a distinguished panel; and the Public’s Choice, awarded to the finalist who receives the most votes on the Virtual Showroom Web page.
New Server Innovations Unveiled
Highlighting further innovation on the Windows platform, Microsoft also announced plans to release the public beta of Windows Server 2003 R2 shortly. In addition to the enhancements included in Service Pack 1, the updated release provides more options for connecting to and controlling identities and access management, managing branch servers, setting up and managing storage options, and developing applications inside and outside an organization’s traditional boundaries. R2 is scheduled to be available in the second half of 2005.