Podium: Introducing the web workstyle

Bill Gates

From a speech given

by the chairman of Microsoft to the

Manhattan Institute,

a New York think-tank

IT'S INTERESTING to consider that two decades ago, when people thought about the future, they had a very different view. They saw the US as falling behind. Everybody looked at the industrial model, particularly in Japan, and its willingness to invest very long term, and its larger innovations, and thought that these companies would lead the way in the computer industry. In fact, much the opposite took place. Today we can say without a doubt that the US is at the centre of the information and medical technology that's really changing the world.

Now, why is this? Perhaps the humility that we had 20 years ago, and going back and re-examining how we did things, was part of it. But I would say even more central was the attitude toward risk, and toward free markets.

We see incredible levels of investment in this country in new and unproven things. And even though some of these Internet valuations will certainly be proven to be excessive, the basic idea of accelerating the investment into this new area is really a fantastic thing. We're also seeing proof of the importance of collaboration between businesses and the great universities in this country. I believe that the world of information technology will continue to surprise people.

There are several reasons for this. The first is that exponential improvement just is unknown in any other endeavour. Having something get twice as good again, again, and again moves it past absolute limits.

The ability to have kids make animated movies and store them and edit them, which today would require a workstation worth hundreds of thousands of dollars - that will certainly be a standard feature of a computer that costs only a few hundred dollars. The fact that computers will be able to understand speech; the fact that they'll be able to speak to you; the fact that you'll be able to hand-write on a tablet that has resolution as good as paper and those notes will be recorded and transmitted in the way that you want them to be - those things change how we relate to the device very, very dramatically.

And every one of those things will happen within the next decade.

The other reason that people are still underestimating the impact is that, as this device gets to critical mass, as it's broadly accepted, then we'll start to take even more advantage of it. It will become the medium for business and communication. In schools today textbooks are designed to be on paper. The investment that the textbook industry makes is totally assuming that form factor. But some time in the next decade that will shift, and all the curriculum will be designed to help the teacher in a digital fashion

And the world of business is still very, very paper-oriented.

I want to introduce a new term, which is the Web work style. This is the idea of a new style of work that's utterly dependent on using digital information. It's quite different from the way people work right now. Although they may use personal computers to create documents, edit documents and annotate documents, and they may use e-mail to stay in touch, most of the information they work with ends up on paper.

If they want to see a sales report, if they want to send a bill to another company, if they want to go to a meeting and have something to hand out to people, that is done totally in paper. And what it means is that there's an incredible overhead. If you get one of those bits of paper and you don't understand it, if you disagree with it, then you're calling up somebody who has to find somebody to look into that. If you want to take that information - say it's your phone bill - and you want to relate it to various cost centres you have in the company, you have to re-enter the data and classify the data. Well, all of that will go away. It will simply be a series of bits that are transmitted and then automatically categorised. And there will be rules that you set up that can trigger and say: "Is this unusually large? Is it different from what I would have expected?" And notify somebody who will pay attention to that.

This ability to collaborate in a digital form will change more than the efficiency of business. Efficiency is an amazing thing, and it's not just companies that you think of as being in the information business.

Even companies you think of as manufacturers devote more money to their information workers than they do to their factory workers. And those workers are doing product design; they're doing things that will be dramatically better when done in a digital fashion. This Web work style will change the boundaries of business. So, let's keep innovating.

Arts and Entertainment
Former Communards frontman Jimmy Somerville
Arts and Entertainment
Secrets of JK Rowling's Harry Potter workings have been revealed in a new bibliography
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Fearne Cotton is leaving Radio 1 after a decade
radio The popular DJ is leaving for 'family and new adventures'
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Public Service Broadcasting are going it alone
Arts and Entertainment

Oscars 2015 Mexican filmmaker uses speech to urge 'respect' for immigrants

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscar nominations are due to be announced today

Oscars 2015 Bringing you all the news from the 87th Academy Awards

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Lloyd-Hughes takes the leading role as Ralph Whelan in Channel 4's epic new 10-part drama, Indian Summers

TV Review

The intrigue deepens as we delve further but don't expect any answers just yet
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Segal and Cameron Diaz star in Sex Tape

Razzies 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards 'honours' Cameron Diaz and Kirk Cameron

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscars ceremony 2015 will take place at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles
Oscars 2015A quiz to whet your appetite for tonight’s 87th Academy Awards
Arts and Entertainment
Sigourney Weaver, as Ripley, in Alien; critics have branded the naming of action movie network Movies4Men as “offensive” and “demographic box-ticking gone mad”.
TVNaming of action movie network Movies4Men sparks outrage
Arts and Entertainment
Sleater Kinney perform at the 6 Music Festival at the O2 Academy, Newcastle
musicReview: 6 Music Festival
Arts and Entertainment
Sleater Kinney perform at the 6 Music Festival at the O2 Academy, Newcastle
musicReview: 6 Music Festival
Kristen Stewart reacts after receiving the Best Actress in a Supporting Role award for her role in 'Sils Maria' at the 40th annual Cesar awards
A lost Sherlock Holmes story has been unearthed
arts + ents Walter Elliot, an 80-year-old historian, found it in his attic,
Arts and Entertainment
Margot Robbie rose to fame starring alongside Leonardo DiCaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street

Film Hollywood's new leading lady talks about her Ramsay Street days

Arts and Entertainment
Right note: Sam Haywood with Simon Usborne page turning
musicSimon Usborne discovers it is under threat from the accursed iPad
Arts and Entertainment
A life-size sculpture by Nick Reynolds depicting singer Pete Doherty on a crucifix hangs in St Marylebone church
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Escalating tension: Tang Wei and Chris Hemsworth in ‘Blackhat’
filmReview: Chris Hemsworth stars as a convicted hacker in Blackhat
Arts and Entertainment

Oscar voter speaks out

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscars race for Best Picture will be the battle between Boyhood and Birdman

Arts and Entertainment
Anne Boleyn (Claire Foy), Thomas Cromwell (Mark Rylance)
tvReview: Wolf Hall
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Meighan of Kasabian collects the Best Album Award
Arts and Entertainment
Best supporting stylist: the late L’Wren Scott dressed Nicole Kidman in 1997
Arts and Entertainment
Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan as Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey in Fifty Shades of Grey


Arts and Entertainment
Mick Carter (Danny Dyer) and Peggy Mitchell (Barbara Windsor)
tv occurred in the crucial final scene
Arts and Entertainment
Glasgow wanted to demolish its Red Road flats last year
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?
    HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

    Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

    Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
    How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

    Time to play God

    Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
    MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

    MacGyver returns, but with a difference

    Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
    Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

    Tunnel renaissance

    Why cities are hiding roads underground
    'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

    Boys to men

    The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
    Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

    Crufts 2015

    Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
    10 best projectors

    How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

    Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
    Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

    Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

    Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
    Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

    Monaco: the making of Wenger

    Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

    Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

    Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

    This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
    'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

    Homage or plagiarism?

    'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
    Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower