(continued from previous page)
way down, and that's where you really see widespread computing breakthroughs.
The hardest thing, by far, is communications, then the hardware costs. We can make sure the software cost is never really holding things back--that it's a small-enough percentage. In educational things, we do a lot of software giveaways. We've been very generous to make sure that when people first come into computing, software doesn't hold them back.
That's interesting--the mesh--because that way, people can actually share a connection.
Yeah, the hard thing is the back haul of the Internet out of the village. Within the village, sure, you can mesh that up, but if people are going to be streaming video, you need quite a bit of capacity there. So it's not a simple problem to solve; we've got actually multiple research locations at Microsoft working together on this mesh thing, and we've had a lot of conferences working with third parties, so we're optimistic that that's the thing that can solve the thing that holds back developing-world computing.
In recent years, there's been a lot of people clamoring to reform and restrict intellectual-property rights. It started out with just a few people, but now there are a bunch of advocates saying, "We've got to look at patents, we've got to look at copyrights." What's driving this, and do you think intellectual-property laws need to be reformed?
No, I'd say that of the world's economies, there's more that believe in intellectual property today than ever. There are fewer communists in the world today than there were. There are some new modern-day sort of communists who want to get rid of the incentive for musicians and moviemakers and software makers under various guises. They don't think that those incentives should exist.
And this debate will always be there. I'd be the first to say that the patent system can always be tuned--including the U.S. patent system. There are some goals to cap some reform elements. But the idea that the United States has led in creating companies, creating jobs, because we've had the best intellectual-property system--there's no doubt about that in my mind, and when people say they want to be the most competitive economy, they've got to have the incentive system. Intellectual property is the incentive system for the products of the future.
I'm wondering, too, as you look forward 10, 20 years from now--what are the big problems that technology industry really needs to focus on?
Well, the technology business provides tools of empowerment, tools to let people be creative, to communicate, and there's no end in sight and certainly a decade's worth of work to make the ease of use and the power of these tools better. If you just think about meetings and the ability to record the video and the audio of the meeting--create a transcript, notify people, have them see the parts they care about--it's crummy today, and that's solvable.
When people want to manage a project with many companies involved--keeping data confidential, tracking and knowing what's going on--that's very crummy today compared to what it can be.
We, with our Office franchise, are committed to making workers far, far more productive than they are today. And believe me, we're not running out of ideas. The phone is inefficient today with phone tag and busy signals. E-mail is inefficient today with seeing stuff that's less relevant and how you organize it--bringing in the blog-type capabilities is very important there.
There's plenty of room to do dramatic horizontal innovation that will drive productivity in every sector of the economy. Whether it's scientific discovery, health care, engineering, marketing, sales--you name it--the tools around Windows and Office are not even half of what they will be.
If you take that and map that into the home, that's where you get the idea of movies, music, games. There, again, we're not even halfway to what we can deliver in that digital lifestyle.
136 commentsJoin the conversation! Add your comment