Bill Gates Interview at BBC News

BBC NEWS | Programmes | Click Online | Bill Gates plots a Windows future Bill gates is interviewed by Stephen Cole of the BBC’s technology show Click Online and much of the interview revolves around Gate’s vision of the “Digital Lifestyle.” Of course central to today’s digital lifestyle in Microsoft’s view is the Media Center PC and Gates is quite enthusiastic on their rapid adoption in the next few years. Per Gates, “as these devices come out, we will be able to double the sales every year for a number of years.”

To this end we should be somewhere about 2.8 million Media Center units next year, 5.6 million the following year and 11.2 million the year after that. A very big number and explosive growth. This is an impressive and laudable goal.

One of the points that Gates hit right on is the fact that as rich of an experience as MCE can be we need to make the living room PC simplier. After my little rant earlier today about “my television” problems, it is interesting to see that Gates indeed recognizes the importance of making the media center experience both rich and simple.

“People don’t want lots and lots of single purpose devices. They do not want to have to learn how to set up something for photos, another thing for music, another thing for video. And you do want the richness, the graphics that only the PC can provide. Now we need to make it very easy to setup, we need to show this kind of simple user interface can be provided there. The PC has more software, more competition, more richness than anything else. So making it simple and rich, that means the PC will be the key device.”

Gates further goes on to add that, “The vision is that people should have the ultimate in convenience. Being able to get the things they care about on the appropriate device.”

So Bill, Media Center is indeed a bright and bold first step entry into the digital lifestyle. And the technology is still really early — in it’s infancy in fact.

In addition to making MCE simplier — convenient, so to speak — here are some things that I care about that I’d love to see you build and map to the “appropriate device,” in order to make MCE a “richer” experience.

1. Getting my 5 star Windows Media Player mp3s from my home office PC to my laptop (simple solution, create a mechanism for a laptop to be treated as a portable device).

2. Getting my 5 star Windows Media Player mp3s from my home office to my car mp3 player (simple solution, create a mechanism for a car mp3 player to be treated as a portable device, wirelessly).

3. Getting all voicemail messaging and telephone record functionality where it belongs, on my MCE machine. Both for archival purposes as well as for easy retrieval, you should own this feature and effectively kill both the answering machine and voicemail service from the telcos.

4. Getting HDTV off my satellite receiver and on to your Media Center PC.

5. Getting my radio off of my satellite and fm signal and into my MCE machine. “My Podcasts.”

I’m very excited about the direction that this technology will be heading in the next few years. I’m also very encouraged to see Gates give his vision of the digital lifestyle so much attention. I’m sure that MCE as a profit center for Microsoft today absolutely pales in comparison to other more profitable businesses there. However, the fact that Gates gives it as much personal attention as he does tells me that Microsoft is indeed quite serious about bringing a truly world class digital entertainment experience to future generations. Bravo Bill and keep up the good work.

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