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February 12, 1996

Predictions 1996: A wristwatch PC and a billion-dollar baby

Last month, I had the opportunity to address the Washington Software Association in Seattle. This group, which is composed of everyone from giant Microsoft Corp. to small development shops, invited me and other pundits to reveal our top predictions for 1996.

Since mine are the product of copious research, I thought you might enjoy reading what I think is in store for the world of Windows this year. Here we go...

  • Prediction No. 9:The Internet Appliance. Threatened by the plans of Oracle Corp. and others to introduce an Internet PC for less than $500, Microsoft announces a PC for less than $100 that is worn on the wrist. At this price point, the Microsoft Internet Wrist PC has only limited functionality: It dials the Internet and displays the correct time of day.

  • Prediction No. 8: The MIPS Race. Computer companies increasingly feel the pressure of Moore's Law, which states that computer power will double about every 18 months. This leads PC manufacturers to seek relief from the federal government. Sure enough, the U.S. Supreme Court rules Moore's Law unconstitutional.

  • Prediction No. 7: The Billion-Dollar Baby. This year, Bill Gates and Melinda French deliver a healthy baby boy. They name him Bob.

  • Prediction No. 6: Talk Rocks On-Line World. Former Crossfire commentator Michael Kinsley begins his new on-line magazine for Microsoft. His first guest is shock-jock Howard Stern, who explains how to search for dirty words on the Internet. An offended Jesse Helms passes a new law banning modems.

  • Prediction No. 5: The High-Tech Baby Shower. Warren Buffet and the Sultan of Brunei get together to buy Baby Bob Gates a little birthday present... Switzerland.

  • Prediction No. 4: Can We Talk? Someone finally looks up "giga-" in a dictionary and finds out that it is properly pronounced "jigga," not "gigga." The stock price of hard-disk manufacturers drops 25 percent in one day. A top hit song wins a Grammy: "You say jigga, I say gigga, let's call the whole thing off."

  • Prediction No. 3: The Art World. Hackers break into the computers controlling the multimedia screens on the walls of the Gates mansion. They reprogram the computers so that all the wall screens display paintings of dogs playing poker.

  • Prediction No. 2: Out of the Mouths of Babes. After the wall screens are debugged, Baby Bob Gates is surrounded by stimulating technology. This helps to enhance the little one's early grasp of language. His first word is "mama," and his second word is "data."

  • Prediction No. 1: The Windows Century. Ending speculation about its long-term plans, Microsoft announces that in the year 2000, it will release Windows 00. Widely referred to as "Windows oh-oh," the new product immediately leaps ahead of all other vaporware on the market, and sales of all software cease until the latest version can be obtained. Asked why he named the product "Windows oh-oh," Bill Gates replies, "We listened to our customers."

    Tip o' the Week

    The Windows 95 applets Notepad and WordPad have an irritating habit. If you save a new file as plain text and you type in a name such as Myfile.txt or Document.asc, you get a long file name such as Myfile.txt.txt or Document.asc.txt. To prevent the extra .txt from being tacked on, type quote marks around your chosen file name: "Document.asc."

    It's ridiculous, but it keeps these applets from dictating your extension.

    Brian Livingston is the coauthor of the new Windows 95 Secrets and author of three other Windows books (IDG Books). Send tips to or fax: (206) 282-1248.

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    Copyright © 1996 by InfoWorld Publishing Company


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