Where is Microsoft with this technology?
Some of the last things I talked about, such as Avatar-based telepresence, are here. Avatar Kinect went worldwide [in July]. For the very first time, there really is an ability to have meetings of up to eight people in a telepresence type of environment.
How soon will this technology emerge in the workplace?
In a decade, I don’t see a reason why the kind of technology that we have in Kinect cannot ultimately be miniaturized to a large degree, much like other cameras are, where you have one on the back of your phone or in the lid of your laptop.
What future-office technologies are your overseas research labs, in Beijing and elsewhere, working on?
If you look at Kinect and all the machine-vision stuff, that came from seven groups in three labs—Beijing; Cambridge, U.K.; and Redmond. For more and more projects, the research is blended together on a more global basis to create these next steps. I don’t perceive any dramatically different way that knowledge workers work in China than they do here.
What about offices and work in developing countries?
If you talk about mobile phones in developing countries, it is true that they have become very popular, but I would not tell you that [a mobile phone] is the computer for the knowledge worker. Today, the knowledge worker, even in the emerging countries, is using PCs. As phones become smarter, people will want to do more, but that will also require expensive data plans.
How do you plan to get back into the tablet market?
When Bill Gates and I pushed the company to do tablets—about a decade ago—the technology to use both pens and touch [interfaces] really didn’t exist. And the interface of Windows was optimized for high-def pointing, not finger pointing. What Apple showed—and coupled with the growth of the smart phone—is they got on that when touch was more viable and economical, and they created a family of products that were touch-first. Microsoft will have a version where it’s a touch-first model of interaction.
How does cloud computing fit into Microsoft’s vision of the future of the office?
The cloud is important in that it democratizes access to super-scale computing and storage facilities. Now any guy in the garage with a credit card can economically, for some period of time, get access to facilities that are larger than most companies historically had access to.
And what about Office 365?
When you talk about Office 365, I think the cloud will be a point of integration for the individual. All these different devices in their life, whether they are at home or at work or in their cars, will gradually become a more organized set of things that work together as opposed to a disjointed set of little computers that the user has to manage. And I think the cloud is an integral part of making that happen.