Microsoft Concept Videos from 2000 Correctly Predicted All the Tech Trends Microsoft Went On to Miss

Future Tense
The Citizen's Guide to the Future
Sept. 13 2013 2:03 PM

Microsoft Concept Videos from 2000 Correctly Predicted All the Tech Trends Microsoft Went On to Miss

91540292
Outgoing Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer

Photo by OLIVER LANG/AFP/Getty Images

At the dawn of the 21st century, Microsoft stood astride the tech world, its software the basis for just about everything that people did on their computers. But the past 13 years have not been kind to the company’s fortunes. Google, an infant at the time, went on to conquer Internet browsing and search. Facebook, launched five years later, became king of social networking. Amazon has tightened its grip on online retail and taken the lead in cloud computing. Apple and Google rule mobile software. The list goes on.

You might assume that Microsoft failed to capitalize on these trends because it lacked the vision to anticipate them. But, as a series of circa-2000 video clips unearthed by Bloomberg reveals, you’d be wrong. In fact, Microsoft foresaw the 21st century’s big tech trends with almost uncanny accuracy.

Advertisement

In a series of circa-2000 concept videos about the future of computing, the company anticipated ubiquitous smartphones, tablets, social networks, cloud-based collaboration, voice-assistant software, and more. As you watch, you might well find yourself saying things like, “hey look, iPads!”—and then recalling that tablets were actually pioneered by Microsoft way back in 2001. They just didn’t catch on until Apple reimagined them eight years later.

Bloomberg has helpfully spliced some of the key scenes into a single five-minute video, but you can watch two of the full-length originals below. Unless you’re Steve Ballmer, in which case you might wish never to be reminded of them again.

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.

Will Oremus is Slate's senior technology writer.

TODAY IN SLATE

Culturebox

The End of Pregnancy

And the inevitable rise of the artificial womb.

Doctor Tests Positive for Ebola in New York City

How a Company You’ve Never Heard of Took Control of the Entire Porn Industry

The Hot New Strategy for Desperate Democrats

Blame China for everything.

The Questions That Michael Brown’s Autopsies Can’t Answer

Foreigners

Kiev Used to Be an Easygoing Place

Now it’s descending into madness.

Technology

Don’t Just Sit There

How to be more productive during your commute.

There Has Never Been a Comic Book Character Like John Constantine

Which Came First, the Word Chicken or the Word Egg?

  News & Politics
The Slate Quiz
Oct. 24 2014 12:10 AM Play the Slate News Quiz With Jeopardy! superchampion Ken Jennings.
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 23 2014 5:53 PM Amazon Investors Suddenly Bearish on Losing Money
  Life
Outward
Oct. 23 2014 5:08 PM Why Is an Obscure 1968 Documentary in the Opening Credits of Transparent?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 23 2014 11:33 AM Watch Little Princesses Curse for the Feminist Cause
  Slate Plus
Working
Oct. 23 2014 11:28 AM Slate’s Working Podcast: Episode 2 Transcript Read what David Plotz asked Dr. Meri Kolbrener about her workday.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 23 2014 6:55 PM A Goodfellas Actor Sued The Simpsons for Stealing His Likeness. Does He Have a Case?
  Technology
Technology
Oct. 23 2014 11:47 PM Don’t Just Sit There How to be more productive during your commute.
  Health & Science
Science
Oct. 23 2014 5:42 PM Seriously, Evolution: WTF? Why I love the most awkward, absurd, hacked-together species.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.