Gates also highlighted Microsoft's flagship Web technology, the Internet Explorer (IE) browser, which has been an asset and a curse for the company over the years. While it allowed Microsoft to secure its dominant position in Web-browsing technology, it also triggered Microsoft's U.S. antitrust woes, something that haunts the company to this day. IE also has taken a hit in the past several years as Mozilla Firefox, an open-source browser, has gained a loyal following, forcing Microsoft to step up development and make its own product more innovative.
Gates revealed that beta 2 of the next version of IE, IE 8, will be available in August. He also stumped for what has been his pet interest during his years at Microsoft -- natural human-interface technology that allows people to interact with computers in ways similar to how they interact with each other. Last week, Microsoft revealed that the next version of Windows, Windows 7, will include touchscreen technology, a fact he mentioned in his talked.
He also reiterated his vision for mini, tablet PCs that allow people to "write" and use other nature interfaces such as speech-recognition technology. Another futuristic technology Gates has promoted at Microsoft is robotics, and he made this interest part of the final discussion of his comments Tuesday. He welcomed onto the stage a Ph.D. candidate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the "Ballmer-bot," a robot made to imitate and act like Steve Ballmer, Microsoft's CEO and Gates' long-time business partner, who is not attending TechEd.
"Developers, developers, developers, developers," the robot, developed using Microsoft Robotics Developer Studio product, repeated over and over, in an homage to Ballmer's famous rant. The robot also raised his arm, showing how he has the ability to "throw eggs," according to the MIT student controlling his movements.