February 26, 2007


How to Keep America Competitive (Bill Gates, February 25, 2007, Washington Post)

American competitiveness also requires immigration reforms that reflect the importance of highly skilled foreign-born employees. Demand for specialized technical skills has long exceeded the supply of native-born workers with advanced degrees, and scientists and engineers from other countries fill this gap.

This issue has reached a crisis point. Computer science employment is growing by nearly 100,000 jobs annually. But at the same time studies show that there is a dramatic decline in the number of students graduating with computer science degrees.

The United States provides 65,000 temporary H-1B visas each year to make up this shortfall -- not nearly enough to fill open technical positions.

Permanent residency regulations compound this problem. Temporary employees wait five years or longer for a green card. During that time they can't change jobs, which limits their opportunities to contribute to their employer's success and overall economic growth.

Last year, reform on this issue stalled as Congress struggled to address border security and undocumented immigration. As lawmakers grapple with those important issues once again, I urge them to support changes to the H-1B visa program that allow American businesses to hire foreign-born scientists and engineers when they can't find the homegrown talent they need. This program has strong wage protections for U.S. workers: Like other companies, Microsoft pays H-1B and U.S. employees the same high levels -- levels that exceed the government's prevailing wage.

Reforming the green card program to make it easier to retain highly skilled professionals is also necessary. These employees are vital to U.S. competitiveness, and we should welcome their contribution to U.S. economic growth.

We should also encourage foreign students to stay here after they graduate. Half of this country's doctoral candidates in computer science come from abroad. It's not in our national interest to educate them here but send them home when they've completed their studies.

During the past 30 years, U.S. innovation has been the catalyst for the digital information revolution. If the United States is to remain a global economic leader, we must foster an environment that enables a new generation to dream up innovations, regardless of where they were born. Talent in this country is not the problem -- the issue is political will.

If other companies aren't generating new ideas what's he supposed to steal?

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 26, 2007 12:05 AM

I was just reflecting this morning on how much new IT technology - specifically virtualization and hypervisors, but others as well - is nothing but a work-around for the fact that there hasn't been any meaningful advance in real-world OS technology for 20+ years; and in fact, today's OSes are rather deficient at what ought to be some of their basic functions.

Who or what, if anyone, is to blame for this is a difficult question.

Posted by: Mike Earl at February 26, 2007 12:24 PM

The purpose of an operating system kernel is to abstract access to hardware, share resources, and provide security.

There has been nothing fundamentally new in OS innovation since the 1970s. IBM had a hypervisor (VM/SP) on their mainframes since 1972. Virtual memory has been around since VAX/VMS circa 1978.

Posted by: Gideon at February 26, 2007 1:21 PM

"During that time they can't change jobs, which limits their opportunities to contribute to their employer's success...." See a contradiction here? Does it mean: if they left the employer, they have more opportunities to contribute to the employer's success? The employers go thru loops to help these employees apply for valid visas. After they gained a few years of experience, they jump ship. Is that what Gates want? I know because I was one of these "poor souls". Btw, Microsoft refuses to consider potential candidates without valid visas because they don't want to do the paper works to help them. Gates want to lobby the govt. so he doesn't have to do any paper work to hire them, or he wants to poach from those who have helped them. According to a US citizen fresh computer graduate(B.S)who is paid $78,000 a year to work for Salesforce.com, Microsoft is depressing. Microsoft is notorious to underpay their workers, Gates wants cheap labor.

Posted by: ic at February 26, 2007 3:02 PM