Microsoft CEO anticipates future

President and CEO of Microsoft Steve Ballmer spoke to a crowd of GW students about the future of technology Tuesday.

With about 100 guests of Microsoft and cameras from CNN and C-SPAN present for the School of Business and Public Management’s final CEO lecture series event, Ballmer was aware his audience was also packed with about 200 entrepreneurial GW students.

Those of you who want to finish (college) or drop out now to join Microsoft are welcome to e-mail, Ballmer said, as he announced his e-mail address, steveb@microsoft.com.

He discussed the expanding role of the Internet in all sectors of society, including business and education.

Ten years from now, will the experience of using the Internet be a) a lot like it is now or b) substantially different? Ballmer asked the packed crowd. You gotta guess `b’ because, if you didn’t, you’d be betting against American entrepreneurship.

Today, people log onto Web sites and receive the same information as everyone else, but in the future, users will be able to filter information they want, Ballmer said. Once people are confident that the Internet is a secure environment, everyone will have their own Web site with personal information stored online, he said.

Explaining that his wife recently questioned whether it was safe to give her credit card information through the Internet, Ballmer said that he and other executives in his industry have our work cut out for us to ensure consumer protection.

Ballmer said the computer industry is at a critical juncture in which response to consumer demands must keep pace with the acceleration of faster and more efficient technology.

Although the possibility of a paperless society is feasible, Ballmer said businesses still hand out paper memos and university students still take notes on paper. New technology, such as Microsoft’s Palm PC released Wednesday, will push paperless possibilities in the right direction, he said.

Distance learning, interconnectivity between students around the world and access to the world’s libraries are all benefits that new, faster computer technology offers education, Ballmer said.

Microsoft envisions a world in which people can use any software with any device in any location, Ballmer said.

Waving his arms wildly, Ballmer yelled excitedly about his new favorite device – television.

I guarantee 10 years from now, I’m going to yell at my TV, `Hey, Bill, did you see that putt?’ Ballmer said. In the future, Ballmer said his television will recognize his voice, determine that Bill is his business partner Bill Gates, decide whether Gates wants to be bothered and contact him about a putt Ballmer just witnessed on TV.

To meet these exciting new possibilities – which include a device that will also condense three-hour baseball games down to three minutes of highlights – Microsoft will need to create faster technology with more processing power, he said.

I need processing power, Ballmer yelled, gasping for breath over laughs from the audience. Ballmer said in the next decade, computers will process 75 times faster than they do now.

After opening the floor to questions, Ballmer discussed Microsoft’s ongoing anti-trust lawsuit.

While his company should do a better job clarifying to competitors that Microsoft values open communication, Ballmer said Microsoft has not broken any laws. He wants to settle the case as soon as possible, he said.

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