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Tuesday, May 06, 2008
Gates says big changes in store for Internet in next decade

Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates said there will be a vast shift in Internet technology over the next decade as he met Tuesday with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak.

"We're approaching the second decade of (the) digital age," the software mogul and philanthropist told Lee at the start of their meeting at the presidential Blue House, according to a media pool report.

"The Internet has been operating now for 10 years," Gates said. "The second 10 years will be very different."

Microsoft Corp., the South Korean government and South Korean companies are investing $313 million in information technology for vehicles, games and education, according to a Blue House statement.

Microsoft and automakers Hyundai Motor Inc. and Kia Motors Corp. announced earlier Tuesday a deal to use Microsoft's in-car software, which allows people to control music and telephones with voice commands.

The company has a one-year exclusivity deal on the software with Ford Motor Co. in the U.S., but that expires in November. Fiat also has been selling cars with the software.

"We're doing some very interesting work on automobile software," Gates said after having dinner with Lee. "That's a really wide open area where some very exiting things will come out of."

Lee, a conservative former construction CEO, swept into office in February with a vow to boost economic growth through deregulation and increasing foreign investment.

In the Blue House statement, Gates was quoted as saying that new deals would boost South Korea's economic growth by as much as $6.9 billion over the next five years.

Gates, at a later event sponsored by South Korean television network SBS, talked about the future of software and human interaction in the next decade.

"We can expect that the variety and quality of software will accelerate in the years ahead," the Microsoft co-founder said.

Gates added that "natural interaction" between hardware and software was finally becoming possible, citing as an example speech commands to computers.

"The whole environment will be very, very different," he said.

Microsoft also said Tuesday that it will invest $280 million to build a research and development center in China's capital Beijing, and will double the number of its full-time research staff in China to 3,000 in three to five years.

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