Welcome to Reviews OnLine: Robert J. Herbold Keynote
Robert J. Herbold Keynote
at PC Expo 1999
by Stephen R.Jones (June 23, 1999)

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Microsoft Executive VP and COO reflected on technology's enormous performance and value gains in the PC era and predicted how continued progress might shape our future.

Keynote: Robert J. Herbold
Microsoft Executive VP and COO
Wednesday, June 23, 1999

Wireless PCs connected to networks with near infinite bandwidth. This was a vision of the future contemplated by Robert Herbold as he gave the Wednesday keynote at PC EXPO.

He asked the audience to consider the relentless progression of Moore's Law since 1975 when processing power (measured in MIPs or Million Instructions Per Second) cost $10,000 per MIP. Today, the same computational horsepower costs about $3 per MIP. In another dozen years, a MIP will likely cost barely a penny.

Likewise, network bandwidth continues to increase at such a rate (40 percent per year since 1990) that "using wave division multiplexing, we're up to 3,000 gigabits per second" on a single strand of fiberoptic cable. Herbold put this kind of bandwidth in perspective by pointing out that with six such wires you could carry phone calls between every person on the planet simultaneously .

How will Microsoft adapt to a world with this staggering amount of processing power and bandwidth? Herbold characterized this future as"the PC Plus era...a world where computing truly is everywhere."

Further, he said that Microsoft's intent "is to [get] high bandwidth into the home [and] organizations so that they can take advantage of these new kinds of capabilities."

Using demos of existing products, Herbold painted a picture of swarms of personal organizers and embedded devices, all powered by Windows CE and wirelessly connected to Windows 2000 servers.

He called Windows 2000 "an incredible client-server platform" and invited two Microsoft product managers on stage to demonstrate what client-server computing might mean in a "PC Plus" era.

The first example employed a Vadem Clio handheld communicating over a 802-11 wireless LAN. Using Windows 2000 Terminal Services, the handheld acted as a "thin client" display device for applications running on the server.

Imagine being able to run any desktop or server application (PowerPoint, network administration tools, etc) from your handheld anywhere on the corporate campus (and beyond).

Along the same lines, the second example showed Windows 2000's ability to share your desktop, folders, or applications remotely with another workstation using NetMeeting UI. This makes real-time interactive tech support, training, or collaboration possible from just about anywhere.

Finally, Herbold outlined Microsoft's privacy initiatives that were announced at PC Expo. These consisted of Privacy Wizard, a tool for creating P3P-compliant privacy policies for web sites, and the complimentary Microsoft Passport, "an easy to use consumer device" that lets consumers define and then communicate their personal privacy policy as they surf to compliant web sites.

Clearly, Microsoft wants to be a part of the likely future where wireless computing devices abound, bandwidth is abundant, and there's plenty of processing speed to go around. The challenge will be for the company to stake out roles for Windows CE and Windows 2000 in this new era. The fact that Microsoft has committed to building personal safeguards into this future is a welcome sign.

Copyright 1999 Stephen R. Jones All rights reserved.

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