Microsoft Plans to Make Phone Numbers Obsolete

May 30th, 2008 at 12:00 am

 pirates of silicon valley

I saw the movie "Pirates of Silicon Valley" on TV again this afternoon.  It’s a movie that portrayed how Steve Jobs and Bill Gates started their companies and ultimately how Microsoft became the Microsoft we know today.  Microsoft took the world by storm when Bill Gates managed to convince the largest computer makers in the world (then IBM) to integrate Gates’ MS-DOS and eventually Windows.

That was nearly 30 years ago, the rest is history.

Now Gates’ is heading for retirement (semi at least) this June but he still has plans to maybe again change the world with his technology.  This time, it’s not just in computers but mostly in Telecom.

The vision is to totally be rid of phone numbers.  How? well, let them do the magic, but it has something to do with User ID’s and internet accounts.  Codenamed "Echoes", it’s a platform for Telecom Companies which will eventually change the way we dial.

Here’s an excerpt from a speech Bill Gates gave in Tokyo which mentions the plan.

"Right now the mobile phone, the desktop phone, the e-mail that you have on the PC, or instant messaging, these are all very different things, and the issues about how much of your information or your schedule, your current activity you share with people who communicate with you is not well designed…. By bringing together all of these kinds of communication, we can greatly simplify them.  We can get rid of phone numbers. have it so when you say you want to contact someone, based on who you are and where that person is, they can decide whether to take the call or take a message about that, and so a great efficiency improvement that can be made there." 

Microsoft has not yet released any official document that gives any description of Echoes but from what we heard and deduced, it will be based on synchronizing (sync) everything.  Email, IM, Mobile Number, Land Line Number, etc. and eventually all those contact information simply becomes a User ID.

How Microsoft and the Telcos manage to ping which device is still unknown but it’s possible the multiple devices can ring simultaneously.

It’s pointless to speculate right now about the details of Echoes but it’s just worth a mention. We’ll be keeping on top of this.