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Bill Gates' 17 finest predictions of the future

How Microsoft's big chief sees the future

Outgoing Microsoft head honcho Bill Gates hasn't been one to shy away from predicting the future of technology. Over the years, Gates' vision of the future has covered everything from interacting more with digital devices with voice recognition, to the eradication of disease and poverty.

Some of his predictions have been spot on, but other couldn't have been further from reality. We've dug up some of his best quotes on the future.

Comdex, Las Vegas, November 19 1996

"Certainly the internet is going to have a huge range of devices connected to it. Telephones will be directly or indirectly connected to the internet. There's two very important form factors that I think will be popular and yet require you to subset the PC. One of those is the handheld device where, because of the screen size, because of the cost requirements, because of the battery life, you want to scale down both the operating systems and the applications.

"And I think there's great progress being made there. We just introduced our hand-held PC approach using Windows CE, and there's many vendors building those subset machines."

Comdex, Las Vegas, November 19 1996

"There are a lot of challenges with the internet. You know, people can view this as a glass half full. And there's been so many wonderful things written about the internet, there's no doubt we'll see articles that are kind of a backlash saying, well, is it really all that people said it would be?

"Well, in the next two or three years, there will still be shortcomings, but I think to really understand this thing, you have to think out 10 or 20 years when a broad set of people will see using the internet to get information as part of their daily activity, and they'll expect everything they do, whether it's scheduling a doctor's appointment or negotiating a contract, or trying to decide on a purchase decision, they'll use the internet as a tool for that."

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts, May 30 1996

"In terms of crime on the internet, the internet will be no more lawless or less lawless, I guess I should say lawful, than any other domain. People who are criminals in real life will be criminals on the internet.

"It requires the police to get a little more sophisticated. As the internet moves to the mainstream, all those things will show up. It's just part of the maturation of the medium."

Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, May 29 1996

"I think PCs will get less expensive. They've got to get less expensive. They've got to get down to even $500 for all of this to be pervasive. Absolutely, that can be done. The market's always making a tradeoff, when you have so much innovation, between using the innovation just to get a more powerful machine at the same price or the same machine you've had now at a lower price. And many people have offered inexpensive PCs. They haven't sold that well because the market to date has opted for more power at the same price."

NEXT PAGE: The effect of the internet on print publications and intelligent computers

  1. Just what Microsoft's CEO expects the future to look like
  2. The effect of the internet on print publications and intelligent computers
  3. Characterising computers by their screen size
  4. The rise of broadband
  5. Gates' long-term association with Microsoft

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