Another major version of Windows within 2 to 4 years
Never let it be said that Bill Gates doesn't know his stuff. Today at CES I had the opportunity to speak to him on a variety of issues. His technical knowledge impressed the onlookers as he expertly detailed the transition from 32-bit computing to 64-bit computing and made the distinction between the bit-ness of the computing and the number of bits in addressing.
As some may recall, last year I talked about how users were quickly coming up against the 4 gigabyte limit in Windows XP (really 2 gigabytes as a practical matter). This has to do with the 32-bit address space in today's 32-bit CPUs. Bill Gates said that is why 64-bit Windows is going to be so important going forward -- 64-bit addressing lets users access a lot more memory "and it'll be awhile before we hit that limit" said Mr. Gates.
Three points Mr. Gates brought up that I found of particular interest were:
- He "guarantees" that there will be a major new release of Windows in the next 2 to 4 years. This runs contrary to some of the analysts who have said that Windows Vista will be the last major release of Windows.
- Windows Vista has helped bring hardware and software together. Microsoft has made a great effort to work with hardware vendors to make sure Windows Vista and new hardware devices work seamlessly together. Historically, Microsoft had been at a disadvantage compared to Apple because Microsoft only controls half the platform. But with Windows Vista, it has teamed up with hardware vendors to create a more seamless experience.
- Microsoft made sure to get ahead of the memory limit curve this time. 32-bit Pentiums were 32-bit in addressing as well. It started the work during the XP time frame and even now, servers are moving to 64-bit platforms (WinCustomize.com runs 64-bit MS SQL Server on an AMD64 box). The challenge of 64-bit computing right now is getting the driver support. And "Windows Vista is our way of pushing the hardware vendors to strengthen 64-bit support now rather than later."
One other interesting note, besides Mr. Gates being clearly familiar with the in-depth technical aspects of Windows Vista, his switch-over to foundation work in 2008 won't be the end of his involvement at Microsoft. Mr. Gates explained that after 2008, he will be as involved in Microsoft post-2008 as he is involved with the Foundation today.