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Stashed in: Steve Jobs, Apple, Lord of the Rings, Microsoft, History of Tech!, Bill Gates, Palo Alto, Best of Imgur, Office Space! I often wonder how many of the wealthiest and most successful people of history that are now dead would change places in a heartbeat with a living, homeless person at this very moment? Fifteen years ago, when he was a man of just 45 years old, Bill Gates predicted the future. The following article by Noah Robischon originally appeared in the January 7, 2000 issue of Entertainment Weekly. Like E-Elvis leaving the building, Bill Gates swiftly moves past a backstage throng of awestruck digit-heads. Yet in spite of his Olympian celebrity, Gates still, and somewhat endearingly, exudes geekitude. When Gates began building software 25 years ago, those digital photos, and the mere idea of watching video on a computer, seemed impractical at best.
BG: In the past if you wanted to edit a video, or do special effects, that was like, oh my God, get out the $5 million budget. BG: It’s only in music–and it’s only in the cutting-edge audience–that you’ve really started to see this change in behavior where people are saying, “Why should I have this physical thing [a CD] that I have to carry around?
BG: The fact of just moving those discs around and which ones are sold and how much–a lot of those areas that have been complicated go away. EW: When will the PC start affecting the way we watch movies and television with the same impact? BG: If you look at any time line for digital music, it’s probably about two or three years more rapid than video. When you walk into your living room six years from now, you’ll be able to just say what you’re interested in, and have the screen help you pick out a video that you care about. EW: In the current worst-case scenario, the federal government could order Microsoft to be split into several units. EW: Thomas Edison held the patent on the movie projector, but the filmmakers were the ones who ended up building and running Hollywood. BG: There’s more total profit in the long run in actually building the entertainment experiences. BG: One of the things you have to put into this equation is what’s the future of advertising…since that’s the funding mechanism for all of this stuff, the opportunity to have very targeted ads.
SONICBOX: Now that your Windows computer has a jukebox inside, this under-$50 remote controller will turn it into a micro-radio station. WINDOWS MOVIE MAKER: This software, a standard feature in the new Windows 2000 OS, runs the video feed from any camcorder through a converter box and loads it onto your PC in digital form. PORTABLE MUSIC PLAYERS: Once you’re at work, there’s no need to leave all your music in the AutoPC.
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Gates, the developer of the enormously business-centric operating system, appears well kept in a button down shirt, slacks and loafers; Jobs on the otherhand is relaxing in an easy-chair with a loose sweater, jeans and no shoes.
From the state of the record industry to viewers’ television habits to the evolution of advertising, the Microsoft co-founder had an amazing idea of what was to come.


One balding, middle-aged hopeful gathers up the courage to break from the pack and nervously hand him a glossy folder–a business proposal?
He seems at pains to present himself as just another small businessman: “Providing tools to everybody, the business we’re in, it’s not such a bad business,” he says, sounding for all the world like an Orville Redenbacher popcorn ad.
Now he envisions Microsoft software as the underlying juice that makes 21st-century entertainment–video editing, interactive television, digital music, and even smart car radios–possible. All those kinds of neat special-effects-type things will become standard features of PCs over the next five years. Why shouldn’t I have just a small device?” I think if you went to certain campuses and said to [students], “How do you get music?” they would view physical storage of music as kind of outdated and very inconvenient. But then you get these new opportunities to essentially author and experience more than just the music itself. Music, even with these dial-up connections you have to the Internet, is very practical to download. When you turn on DirecTV and you step through every channel–well, there’s three minutes of your life.
It’s not going to be “Let’s look at channels 4, 5, and 7.” It’s going to be something that has pretty incredible graphics and it’s got an Internet connection to it. If that happened, would one of the so-called Baby Bills be spun off as an entertainment company?
In terms of our overall strategy, one thing I just can’t be clear enough about is that we are not an entertainment company. Microsoft has experimented with entertainment on the Microsoft Network (MSN), but has been unsuccessful thus far. If you see something you’re interested in, you literally say, “Yeah, give me more information, or call me.” The value of that marketing is much higher.
But Gates would still like to see his software running inside every possible device on earth–as you can see from the array of gewgaws he’s using to tout Microsoft’s move into the home electronosphere.
Along with improving the quality of audio and video for regular cable, these digital boxes will include blazingly fast Net access that, with the help of Microsoft software, will allow you to use sites like Intertainer to buy and download feature-length movies onto your TV. Solution: This next-gen car stereo uses Windows software to let you load digital music files from your PC onto a memory card and then listen to them in rush-hour traffic.
Using a palette of drag-and-drop editing tools, you can rearrange shots and mix in background music, then send your masterpiece to Grandma via e-mail or put it onto the Web for viewing through the digital set-top box. This handheld organizer, which runs on Microsoft software, can play a short segment of that home movie you made using Windows Movie Maker. Just remove that memory card full of songs and plug it into a digital music player like the I-JAM. But he knew what we would be viewing these on - indeed the third iPad, with its Retina display, certainly matches the next point.
You have a variety of image libraries that will contain, say, all the worlda€™s best art.'Youa€™ll also have very cheap, flat panel-display devices throughout your house that will provide resolution so good that viewing a projection will be like looking at an original oil painting.
It’s almost easy to forget that this is a guy who lives in a $50 million-plus superhome with flat-panel wall screens that cycle through millions of images owned by one of his many companies. And no matter what the government says or plans, Gates has the bucks and the infrastructure to make it happen.


Not every group should have to build their own website, so there’s an area of expertise here, there are companies that are going to make sure that the content is out there, and that it’s authored in a very, very creative way.
Whereas for video, if you just have a dial-up connection, the kind of quality we can offer is suggestive rather than the full experience. The range of tastes that people have just guarantees that there will be thousands and thousands of companies out there. Some of these items are so new we haven’t been able to test-drive them, so consider this Gates’ beta vision of the future of entertainment. They will also offer commercials that are targeted to your interests–which is supposedly a good thing. The Sonicbox’s tuner software–which works only on Windows PCs–transmits the audio from your computer to, say, 93.1 FM.
Every year there will be a couple of fantastic examples like that, of some new approach where somebody, with at most $100,000 of capital, went out and did something that millions of people fell in love with. I expect to wake up and say, a€?Show me some nice Da Vinci stuff,a€?A  and my ceiling, a high-resolution display, will show me what I want to see - or call up any sort of music or video. The machine will check its database and think of some stories you might tell, songs you might sing, jokes you might not have heard before. Yet two years ago I remember there was a panel at this Sun Valley media conference where the question came up.
This new generation of set-top boxes that connects up to the Internet is very much part of that.
The potential impact is pretty phenomenal in terms of being able to watch a TV show whenever you want to. The key announcements: Microsoft’s creation of a secure network for delivering entertainment on demand via Internet-connected set-top boxes, and a guide to content for high-speed users that will offer full-length movies, TV shows, and thousands of music videos.
People love having that CD.” It just reminds me of the people who said that the encyclopedia would never go digital because it’s so prestigious to have that big leather-bound set up on your shelf. Wea€™ll really find out what the human brain can do, but wea€™ll have serious problems about the purpose of it all.'Wea€™re going to find out how curious we are and how much stimulation we can take. As Gates presents it, Windows software will unchain computing from the desktop and turn a slew of devices–like portable music players and cell phones–into mini-PCs.
It’s one of those things you look back on and say, “How could there have been a debate?” C’mon, it’s just better.
You’ve got to imagine that a software agent will help you find things that you might be interested in.
There have been experiments in which a monkey can choose to ingest cocaine and the monkey keeps going to create some pretty intense experiences through synthesized video-audio.'Do you think youa€™ll reach a point of satisfaction when you no longer have to try something new or make something better? We’re enabling neat things and we want to see other companies do the entertainment using our technology.



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