Gates speaks to UAE IT business leaders

Microsoft chairman outlines the second digital decade, and the opportunities in Dubai

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By  Mark Sutton Published  January 27, 2008

Bill Gates, chairman of Microsoft discussed the second digital decade and the potential for development in Dubai today during his first visit to the UAE.

Speaking at the Build People Ready Businesses 08 event, which was held at the Emirates Towers Hotel, Gates said he was pleased to be in Dubai and that there was a great deal of opportunity in the emirate.

"This is my first visit, but I have been long looking forward to it, because of the dynamic things happening in Dubai," said Gates. "The UAE leads a number of business areas, in part the reason it has been able to do that is because it has embraced IT. Dubai would not be as successful as it was today without the application of IT

"There is a real opportunity here as investment in education takes place, to get more research and more innovation in Dubai, and to participate in the IT industry in a much deeper way - that is something which is very important to Microsoft," he added.

Gates also spoke about the second digital decade, and how he envisions technology developing over the next ten years, particularly with relation to how people interact with technology.

"This is the start of the second digital decade. In the first digital decade the way you interact with devices is through the keyboard and mouse, even on a cellphone, you have a keypad. In the second digital decade, two things will change - natural interaction, and service connection," he said.

"There are many types of natural interaction, speech is just one of them, it has taken time to develop the quality of the software and the power of the chip but today . Ink - using a pen to take notes is another area where we have made huge advances. Once you get a natural interface, the sky is the limit," he added.

For service connection, Gates highlighted the growth of user centric services and digitization to change the way we access information, be it information for work, entertainment or interaction with services, and the advances that has created for productivity.

"Today when you think of devices, mostly they are isolated and it is up to you to move your information between devices. Now by connecting to the Internet, we can make services user centric, so the information is automatically moved to wherever you want to use it," Gates said. "In future there will be three levels of computing devices - the personal devices, which are getting better and better; the servers that run in your business and services delivered by the Internet."

As part of the presentation Gates gave the first Middle East demonstration of Microsoft Surface, the ‘coffee table' type device with an interactive multi-touch screen, which can even recognize and interact with mobile phones and other devices when placed on the screen.

Gates also said that during his visit he had held discussions with Dubai government on the possibility of developing showcases to speed up the adoption of technology in key areas such as education.

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