With the performance of the PC reaching its natural limits, the companies with the most at stake, Microsoft (MSFT) and Intel (INTC) are hoping to take computing in directions which users can only imagine.
According to The New York Times "If the research efforts succeed, this would enable the development of new kinds of portable computers and would help computer engineers tackle areas as diverse as speech recognition, image processing, health care systems and music."
The two big companies are investing $20 million in early research to move the project along. Some of its goals will be to make handheld computers more powerful and allow browsers to process more complex data.
The Achilles Heel of the program may be that people do not want a lot more from their PCs and handheld devices. Doing complex work on a tiny screen with a tiny keyboard may not be attractive to most consumers. Speech recognition may be helpful in asking for directions, but it applications for asking computers to do more complicated tasks may be limited for decades.
The fact that only $20 million is going into the pot is a sign that Intel and Microsoft may not think that the "next generation" of computing is something that their customers want.
Douglas A. McIntyre