Microsoft's Mundie: U.S. Broadband Efforts 'A Total Policy Failure'
Craig Mundie came to Washington this week, and as Microsoft's chief strategic thinker, replacing Bill Gates in that role, he has a lot on his mind.
Watch what Mundie had to say about robot receptionists, holding on to our white spaces and how he's different from Bill Gates here.
During an hour-long interview at his company's downtown offices, Mundie spoke bluntly about a number of Washington and technology issues: the failure of the U.S. to keep up in the worldwide race to extend broadband Internet service to its citizens, how the Federal Communications Commission should handle the "white spaces" in the radio spectrum, and what he thinks of "the cloud," an automaton receptionist being planned at Microsoft's headquarters and other matters on the frontiers of computing.
Some of his strongest words were reserved for the country's lagging position in rolling out broadband Internet service -- depending on what survey is used, the U.S. may rank as low as 14th in the world. He notes that at home in Seattle, he pays twice as much for broadband service as he would in Tokyo, where speeds are many times faster.
"My view is the country has had virtually a total policy failure for more than the last decade relative to this," he said, and the situation is "getting worse faster than most people perceive."
Like Google's top officials, Mundie is lobbying the Federal Communications Commission to allow the use of white spaces -- the portion of the radio wave spectrum in between the television stations -- for use of other devices.
As for computing, he said while there is a lot of talk about "the cloud," the idea that virtually all computing in the future will be done there is "bogus." For example, he predicts that the graphical user interfaces that all of us are accustomed to will one day be replaced by what he considers "natural user interfaces" -- that is, computers that we can talk to. But those computers, which will be able to see us and converse with us, will require vast computing power to handle "seeing" and "talking," and it makes more sense to have that power at home or in the office, rather than in the cloud.
As an example of that future, he talked about "Laura," an automated receptionist soon to be in use at Microsoft's headquarters. She will be able to see and converse with employees and arrange for them the shuttles that they need.
"It has all these mannerisms of a person," he said.
And finally, Mundie talked about where he and Bill Gates differ.
October 3, 2008; 11:41 AM ET
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