In 10 years' time, speech technology will be ubiquitous and the unrelenting security headaches of today will be only a distant nightmare, Microsoft chairman and chief software architect Bill Gates told the audience at the Gartner Symposium ITxpo 2004.
As technical hurdles such as background noise and context are overcome, major adoption of speech technology will arrive, Gates said, and dictating to PCs and giving commands to mobile phones will be basic modes of interacting with technology.
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"The keyboard won't go away. Your interaction will be multimodal; talking and typing and using [electronic] ink," he added.
Security is also a primary area of investment within Microsoft, with spam a particular area of focus. The most dangerous aspect of spam is social engineering attacks that spoof sender identities.
The key to solving the spam problem is to verify sender identities, a capability not built into the messaging protocol SMTP, Gates said.
"It turns out this verify sender element - the caller ID in e-mail - is key to solving spam and making sure people don’t do these social engineering spoofs. Every [message] coming in needs to be verified.
"Within the next two years it will be off the top five list," Gates said, adding that solating virus outbreaks and improving firewall administration are necessary steps toward that goal.
The development of visual modelling tools across systems and code is another strong focus.
Visual modelling for business processes will show business information, such as sales and forecast data in rich, visual ways, automatically. The goal is to express without code exactly what steps are necessary in a workflow.
"It will be a will be visual model automatically, not writing code for each instance," Gates said. "The key breakthrough in coding is to write less code. There is nothing magical that will make a million lines of code a pretty thing. In a decade we should be able to reduce the code [developers] write by at least a factor of five."
Gates said web services are still flourishing and will usher in radical improvements in software connectivity.
"There has never before been a protocol that lets software connect to another piece of software and have rally complete flows of information back and forth. Web services give the ability for any [piece of] software in any language on any system, find and connect securely with another piece of software. [Web services] will be built into the server OS, client OS, and administration [tools]," he added.
Once web services standards are pervasive, application and software connectivity will gain newfound depth and sophistication, according to Gates.
Cathleen Moore writes for InfoWorld