Bill Gates made these 15 predictions in 1999 — and it's scary how accurate he was

Bill-Gates

After reading ’Business @ the Speed of Thought’, my respect for Bill Gates has increased exponentially. That isn’t to say that I wasn’t a fan of his before. I’ve always been impressed by the strategies that Microsoft carried out in its early days, but that doesn’t come close to how impressed I am now. In this book, published in 1999, Gates outlined how information systems, the Internet, and technology in general would change the way that businesses function. Along the way, he made some incredibly accurate predictions, most of which have since become huge industries: smart phones, smart homes, social networks, and an array of other uses for the Internet-a few of which have yet to be developed.

Gates presents a few key elements for a good information system. While we have to keep in mind that the book was written in the late 90’s, many of these questions are still hardly answered by today’s technology, and present opportunities for new businesses.

Predictions

  1. Automated price comparison services will be developed, allowing people to see prices across multiple websites, making it effortless to find the cheapest product for all industries.
  2. People will carry around small devices that allow them to constantly stay in touch and do electronic business from wherever they are. They will be able to check the news, see flights they have booked, get information from financial markets, and do just about anything else on these devices.
  3. People will pay their bills, take care of their finances, and communicate with their doctors over the Internet.
  4. “Personal companions” will be developed. They will connect and sync all your devices in a smart way, whether they are at home or in the office, and allow them to exchange data. The device will check your email or notifications, and present the information that you need. When you go to the store, you can tell it what recipes you want to prepare, and it will generate a list of ingredients that you need to pick up. It will inform all the devices that you use of your purchases and schedule, allowing them to automatically adjust to what you’re doing.
  5. Constant video feeds of your house will become common, which inform you when somebody visits while you are not home.
  6. Private websites for your friends and family will be common, allowing you to chat and plan for events.
  7. Software that knows when you’ve booked a trip and uses that information to suggest activities at the local destination. It suggests activities, discounts, offers, and cheaper prices for all the things that you want to take part in.
  8. While watching a sports competition on television, services will allow you to discuss what is going on live, and enter contest where you vote on who you think will win.
  9. Devices will have smart advertising. They will know your purchasing trends, and will display advertisements that are tailored toward your preferences.
  10. Television broadcast will include links to relevant websites and content that complement what you are watching.
  11. Residents of cities and countries will be able to have Internet-based discussions concerning issues that affect them, such as local politics, city planning or safety.
  12. Online communities will not be influenced by your location, but rather, your interest.
  13. Project managers looking to put a team together will be able to go online, describe the project, and receive recommendations for available people who would fit their requirements.
  14. Similarly, people looking for work will be able to find employment opportunities online by declaring their interest, needs, and specialized skills.
  15. Companies will be able to bid on jobs, whether they are looking for a construction project, a movie production, or an advertising campaign. This will be efficient for both big companies that want to outsource work that they don’t usually face, businesses looking for new clients, and corporations that don’t have a go-to provider for the said service.

The original post is here.

Microsoft says iOS and Android support doesn’t mean Windows Phone is dead

Is-Windows-Phone-dead

In an interview with Business Insider, Microsoft’s Joe Belfiore spoke briefly about Microsoft’s recent announcements made at Build such as the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update but also took the time to comfort those worried about the small presence of Windows phones at the event and Microsoft’s growing focus on iOS and Android devices.

“We’re going to continue to support Windows phone,” Belfiore said before adding that, “Windows is a platform that drives the experience on a whole range of devices. We live in a highly diverse world.”

With the significantly higher number of users on iOS and Android compared to Windows 10 Mobile, it’s understandable that Microsoft would want to offer their services and products to those using those ecosystems. This often frustrates Windows phone users though as it can appear that Microsoft favors offering support for other companies’ mobile devices over their own. And for the most part, recently anyway, this has been fairly true.

It’s been a while since Microsoft released their own Windows phone device (they’ve been relying on other companies to manufacture phones) but the Windows 10 Mobile operating system continues to get updates (though admittedly not as big as the Windows 10 updates) as do many Windows phone apps. There’s also a growing number of rumors and statements that suggest that Microsoft could be planning a “Surface Phone” which could radically redefine what a smartphone looks like and is used for.

Visual Studio 2017 is coming on March 7

VisualStudio2017LaunchEvent

Join us at 8:00 AM PST on March 7 for a two-day online event celebrating the launch of our latest version as well as 20 years of Visual Studio. Watch the live stream featuring Julia Liuson, Brian Harry, Miguel de Icaza, and Scott Hanselman as they share the newest innovations in Visual Studio, .NET, Xamarin, Azure, and more. After the keynote, Microsoft engineers will lead interactive technical demo sessions to help you get the most out of Visual Studio 2017 and the rest of our tools and platform.

On March 8, we’ll help you get productive even faster by hosting a full day of live interactive trainings. Don’t forget to click Save the Date above and sign up for email reminders!

Whether you are new to our tools or have been with us since the beginning, we’d love to hear and share your Visual Studio story. Share a photo of memorabilia or a short video clip of your story with Visual Studio on Instagram or post your story on Twitter and Facebook using #MyVSstory. Check out Julia’s launch event announcement for more details.

Microsoft's new adaptive shell will help Windows 10 scale across PC, Mobile, and Xbox

The Windows Shell is essentially the Windows environment we all know and love. In layman's terms, it gives us access to system elements and objects necessary for running applications, and houses features such as the Taskbar, Start Menu, Desktop and more. Currently, the Windows Shell is different depending on the version of Windows 10 you're using. For example, Mobile is using a different Windows Shell than desktop; but Microsoft is working to change and streamline that.

windows-10-logo-intro

Microsoft is building an "adaptive shell" into Windows 10 that'll work across PCs and tablets, phones, HoloLens, and even Xbox. As it currently stands, the Windows Shell isn't a true universal element of Windows, unlike the OneCore subsystem and Universal Windows Apps. PCs and tablets share the same shell thanks to Continuum, but Mobile, HoloLens and Xbox have their own individual shells that are updated and maintained separately.

Over the next few Windows 10 releases however, Microsoft will be bringing each of these device categories under one Windows Shell, making for a true universal Windows 10 experience no matter what device you're using. Internally referred to as "Composable Shell" or "CSHELL", this new Windows Shell will be able to scale in real-time between all types of devices, similarly to how Continuum currently works between desktop mode and tablet mode, only this time it'll scale across Xbox and Mobile as well.

For our more techy readers, the Composable Shell is essentially a shell modularized into sub-components. The system can transition between each component if it is required, making for a much more flexible experience on devices like 2-in-1's or something that has multiple form-factors.

Microsoft’s Channel 9 introduces .Game, a new series focused on game development using .NET

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Microsoft has introduced a new show to its Channel 9 video platform aimed at teaching and showing off Microsoft’s products and services. The new show is called .Game and aims to teach people how to develop games using .NET.

In this new series, viewers will be able to watch along and discover how game development works and how to do it themselves. The first episode of the show is already available and focuses on the basics with Unity, a popular game engine.

The above video introduces the .Game show. Stacey Haffner explains that the show will provide tips and tricks, as well as access to files on Github to make use of, in addition to resources and other tutorials that people may find helpful when it comes to game development.

Microsoft's new service turns FAQs into bots

QnAMaker-HomePage

Finding customer service help online can be a pain. Filtering through a knowledge base to find the right answer to your question can be an exercise in fighting with nested frequently asked questions documents.

Microsoft is aiming to help by making it easier for companies to create intelligent bots that can answer common questions.

The QnA Maker, launched in beta on Tuesday, will let users train an automated conversation partner on existing frequently-asked-questions content. After that information is fed in, the service will create a bot that will respond to customer questions with the content from the knowledge base. Once the information is loaded into the service, users can then view how the bot has paired up questions and answers and add their own custom questions and responses.

After that, they can test it in Microsoft's web interface to see how the bot will respond.

Microsoft has been pushing hard to get companies to build intelligent, automated conversation partners, but getting intelligent bots off the ground can take time. This service lowers the barrier to entry by making it possible for people without hardcore developer skills to build a useful bot that addresses a key concern.

When the system thinks multiple answers in a knowledge base might work for one query, it will allow users training the bot to pick from different possible responses and saves the choice to the knowledge base.

The system creates an API endpoint that can be used as a bot on its own or integrated into another, larger conversational system.

Right now, the service is available for free, but limits users to 10,000 transactions per month, and 10 transactions per minute. In the future, Microsoft will offer it as a paid service.

Microsoft's Home Hub ambitions aim to crush Google Home and Amazon Echo

homehubui-concept

In what might be the most exciting part of this whole project, Microsoft is working on bringing the connected "smart home" to Windows 10 with Home Hub. The goal is to make Windows 10 the central hub for all your smart home devices, including lights, doors, locks and more. With Cortana integration allowing you to use your voice to toggle and control the smart devices in your home, the picture for Home Hub becomes complete: it brings Windows 10 to the center of your entire home.

Microsoft is building a dedicated "Connected Home" app that will make adding smart devices to your home easy; with an overview of all the smart devices in your home and options to turn them on and off, configure them, and more. You'll also be able to group devices to individual rooms; for example, you could have Hue lights 1, 2 and 3 grouped under the Bedroom tag and tell the Home Hub to "turn off the bedroom lights". This app will work much like most other smart home apps, except this one will have deep integration with Windows 10.

Home Hub Timeline

Home Hub is a massive project for Microsoft, with a lot of it planned across for Redstone 2, 3 and 4. It's unclear when we should expect to see the whole set of Home Hub features show up for consumers. Some sources have suggested the first batch of major Home Hub bits will arrive with Redstone 3, with smaller features such as Family Desktop showing up sooner with the Creators Update.

Although Microsoft has internal projections for this stuff, that doesn't make it immune from delays or even cancellations. That's a frequent occurrence at any tech company of Microsoft's size — internal projects don't always work out, and sometimes they rise and fall entirely without public knowledge of the plans.

Most of the sources we've spoken to have all said a lot of the Home Hub stuff had been delayed for more important changes and improvements that need to be made to Windows 10, which is understandable. No single source has explicitly said that the big Home Hub stuff has been canceled, but we have heard that it might be a while before any of the interesting stuff begins to show up in public.

Read more on WindowsCentral.

Microsoft is working on a new design language for Windows 10 codenamed Project NEON

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Microsoft has made several adjustments to its design language over the last few years, starting with Windows 8 and evolving into what we now know as "Microsoft Design Language 2" or MDL2 in Windows 10. With MDL2 being the current design language used throughout Windows 10, Microsoft has plans to begin using a much more streamlined design language with Redstone 3, codenamed Project NEON.

A Metro 2.0?

Cassim Ketfi at Numerama.com confirms our information and has heard Project NEON called "basically Metro 2". That designation refers to the first Metro design language (née Modern) that harkens to Windows Media Center up through Windows Phone 7 and Windows 8.

Metro was the defining look of the Windows Phone OS with strict principles and guidelines. It also kicked off the design movement of flat, chrome-less design focused on simplicity that even iOS and Android now mimic.

Per our sources, Project NEON has been in the works for over a year internally at Microsoft. It builds upon the design language introduced with Windows 10, with its simple and clean interfaces, but adds some much-needed flair to the UI that the current design language just lacks.

Details are still scarce, but we hear some of the new designs in the plans include adding more animations and transitions, with the overall goal of making the UI very fluid and "beautiful" compared to the current, almost static UI that is MDL2. One source familiar with Microsoft's plans described NEON as "Very fluid, lots of motion and nice transitions."

Other things we've heard include app-elements being able to "escape" the borders of a window making for a much more unique experience.

Some more information about NEON reveals that it serves as a bridge between holographic and augmented reality (AR) and the desktop environment. It's a "UI that transports across devices" with a UX that maps to the physical world. It uses textures, 3D models, lighting and more.

groovedesign

Timeline

Internal plans appear to suggest that the bulk of this new design language will start showing up with Redstone 3 in the early Fall of 2017, but Insiders will likely start seeing these new changes a lot sooner, as Insiders are supposed to start receiving RS3 builds in April-May. There is also a reasonable chance we may see some NEON bits begin to appear in Redstone 2 in early 2017.

Microsoft will continue working on Project NEON throughout Redstone 3's development cycle and leading into Redstone 4 in 2018, where 3rd-party developers will also be able to take advantage of the new design language.

Satya Nadella: Microsoft building the 'ultimate mobile device'

Sadella-Melbourne

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has again reaffirmed the company's commitment to developing smartphones. Unfazed by its market share dropping beneath 1 percent, Nadella said Microsoft is planning a revolutionary "ultimate mobile device."

Nadella made the comments during an interview with the Australian Financial Review. He visited Sydney last week to address a local developers conference about Microsoft's cognitive computing systems and Azure cloud services.

Nadella outlined his plans for Microsoft's future involvement with smartphones. He suggested the company has stopped trying to rival the established leaders in the field. Instead, Microsoft is working on something for the future that it thinks will give it the upper-hand in the long term.

lumia1

Nadella hinted at an "ultimate mobile device" that could give Microsoft a credible presence in the industry. The company seems keen to develop a product with unique capabilities that aren't replicated by its rivals. A key feature that already fits this description is the company's Continuum tech, Windows 10 Mobile's ability to transform itself into a desktop PC at a moment's notice.

"We will continue to be in the phone market not as defined by today's market leaders, but by what it is that we can uniquely do in what is the most ultimate mobile device," Nadella said. "Therefore [with Nokia assets], we stopped doing things that were me-too and started doing things, even if they are today very sub-scale, to be very focused on a specific set of customers who need a specific set of capabilities that are differentiated and that we can do a good job of."

Bill Gates awarded a Presidential Medal of Freedom

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Outgoing President Barack Obama today names Bill Gates as one of the 21 recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the Nation’s highest civilian honor, presented to individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.

The medal has previously been awarded to such luminaries as Mother Teresa and Stephen Hawking and was awarded for Bill Gates’s charitable work after he exited Microsoft in 2008. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation aims to help all people lead healthy, productive lives. In developing countries, the foundation focuses on improving people’s health and giving them the chance to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty. In the United States, the mission is to ensure that all people—especially those with the fewest resources—have access to the opportunities they need to succeed in school and life. The Gates Foundation has provided more than $36 billion in grants since its inception.

President Obama said, “The Presidential Medal of Freedom is not just our nation’s highest civilian honor – it’s a tribute to the idea that all of us, no matter where we come from, have the opportunity to change this country for the better.  From scientists, philanthropists, and public servants to activists, athletes, and artists, these 21 individuals have helped push America forward, inspiring millions of people around the world along the way.”

One of the founders of Microsoft in 1975, Gates stepped down as chief executive officer of Microsoft in January 2000. He remained as chairman and chief software architect until 2006, when he transitioning from full-time work at Microsoft to part-time work, and full-time work at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.  His last full-time day at Microsoft was June 27, 2008 and he stepped down as chairman of Microsoft in February 2014, taking on a new post as technology adviser to support newly appointed CEO Satya Nadella.

The awards will be presented at the White House on November 22th and livestreamed at www.whitehouse.gov/live. See the full list of recipients at Whitehouse.gov here.

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