Gates Talks About Digital Future

LAS VEGAS -- In the opening keynote at Comdex Fall ’98, a light-hearted Bill Gates discussed the obstacles facing a "fully digital world," and touted SQL Server 7.0, which was released on Monday.

Gates explained that as the Internet grows in content depth and popularity, more and more people are buying PCs to be used as Internet access devices, with the main uses of home PCs being Web access and e-mail.

"Another amazing thing that is happening to the PC is its coming out in different form factors," he said, pointing to a variety of Microsoft operating systems-based devices, including the latest and greatest design in notebooks and handhelds. With all the new devices, we are moving toward a fully digital world, he added.

Gates cited the poor quality of current font technology and screen resolutions as the main stumbling block on the road to a paperless future. "We just don’t have screen quality to match the printed page," he said.

Bill Hill, a Microsoft researcher, came onstage to demonstrate ClearType, a new font technology that Microsoft claims will be part of future operating systems, although exactly when was not discussed. ClearType enables developers to enhance the pixels on a computer screen and results in a 300 percent improvement in resolution.

Hill said type technology and the way we display fonts makes people prefer hard copies to computers when it comes to longer documents. Making LCDs as readable as paper is "like somebody told us to paint the Mona Lisa, and then handed us a paint roller," Hill said. "If we introduce this technology into the OS then all the apps that we use will get to take advantage of it."

Gates also showed off some of SQL Server 7.0’s new features, and called for privacy as the Internet expands. --Thomas Sullivan, Staff Reporter/Reviews Editor

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.