LAS VEGAS, Nov. 16, 2003 — In his 20th annual COMDEX Las Vegas keynote address, Microsoft Corp. Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates outlined the company's vision for Seamless Computing, a framework for software innovation that addresses the fundamental issues computer users face today, unlocks the value of computing, and makes smart devices, software and services work as a coordinated whole. Illustrating the fundamental software breakthroughs that are transforming the computing experience today, Gates showcased Microsoft® SmartScreen Technology, an anti-spam filtering technology that will help guard users' inboxes from unwanted e-mail. Gates also demonstrated a new version of Microsoft's next-generation Internet Security and Acceleration (ISA) Server, an application-layer filtering security technology that enables organizations to more easily and effectively help protect their networks from malicious attacks, and showcased the network management and patching capabilities of the newly launched Microsoft Systems Management Server (SMS) 2003.
Microsoft Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates at COMDEX Las Vegas 2003 Nov. 16. Click image for high-res version.
Toward Seamless Computing
During his presentation, Gates said that continued advances in processing power, storage, graphics and Web services are sparking a new era of growth for the technology industry, as developers take advantage of these capabilities to create new software that mirrors the way the real world works and transcends the boundaries between people and the technology they use.
Noting that computers and software are an increasingly significant and essential part of life in the Digital Decade, Gates made the case for continued industry innovation around a vision for seamless computing. The next big opportunity for the technology industry, he said, is to create software that transcends boundaries between different devices, applications, services and networks.
Gates stressed the importance of achieving fundamental software breakthroughs in the areas of connected systems, information-driven software, rich user interfaces and new experiences. He noted that many of these breakthroughs are happening today, through integrated innovation that connects and enhances all of Microsoft's products and services.
"We're entering an era when software is no longer as constrained by the capabilities of hardware. Our industry is now in a position to deliver on seamless computing a new wave of software breakthroughs that will enrich personal and business connections, help groups work better together, and adapt to the way people want to work," Gates said.
Illustrating some of the software breakthroughs on the path to seamless computing, Gates showcased the capabilities and benefits of Windows Server™ 2003, including an integrated application server, Web services support, and advances for information workers including Windows® SharePoint™ Services and Windows Rights Management Services.
Gates demonstrated advances in Microsoft Office System programs, including Office OneNote™ 2003, a note-taking program that provides users with a new and flexible way to capture, share and reuse their notes, and Office InfoPath™ 2003, a new information-gathering program that offers rich, dynamic forms to simplify business processes and enable companies to make smarter business decisions.
Microsoft Office 2003 has experienced a strong response from customers and partners that is in line with Microsoft's expectations, with estimated initial retail sales doubling that of Office XP. In addition, the number of business customers that have already purchased the rights to install Microsoft Office 2003 through volume licensing is about twice the number of customers that had purchased the rights to install Microsoft Office XP when it was launched.
Gates continued his presentation by announcing the next version of the Microsoft Windows XP Tablet PC Edition operating system, which will be available in the first half of 2004 and will be free for Tablet PC customers. The new operating system features deep integration of pen support in Windows XP, making it easier to create text anywhere in Windows and familiar Windows-based applications, as well as enabling software developers to add inking capabilities to both new and existing applications. Gates noted that Tablet PCs are finding increasing adoption as a mainstream laptop PC replacement in a wide range of businesses. He also announced three new Tablet PCs from Gateway Inc., Toshiba Corp. and ViewSonic Corp.
Demonstrating the growing benefits of connected software, Gates showed how the innovative capabilities of Visual Studio® .NET and broad Extensible Markup Language (XML) support across all Microsoft products are empowering developers to create new kinds of seamlessly connected applications and services. Gates demonstrated a prototype solution for Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co., which enables IT managers to review and assess new projects using Visual Studio Tools for Office and Tablet PCs.
Gates noted that this kind of rich programmability and flexibility is moving on to the client, with support for advanced networking and Web services, managed APIs, rich user interfaces and a new file system in the next-generation Windows client, code-named "Longhorn." "Along with a new generation of applications, we believe that Longhorn' PCs will be at the center of the seamless computing experience for most consumers and information workers," Gates said.
Showcasing some of the results of the company's $6.8 billion investment in research and development this fiscal year, Gates demonstrated an advanced search technology project from Microsoft Research, code-named "Stuff I've Seen," which explores ways to provide a single user interface to dynamically retrieve diverse kinds of information on a PC (such as e-mail, Web browsing history, Office documents and other file types), and emphasized the company's long-term commitment to revolutionizing the way software helps people deal with a growing amount of digital information.
Putting the Fundamentals First
In his presentation, Gates emphasized the importance of an industrywide commitment to addressing the fundamental challenges of reliability, security, performance, manageability and ease of use. Stressing a long-term approach to innovation, Gates announced a number of software breakthroughs that improve the customer experience of today while paving the way for revolutionary advances in the years ahead.
He unveiled Microsoft's new spam-filtering technology, called SmartScreen, designed to help protect the inboxes of corporate and consumer e-mail users. Noting that more than half of e-mail sent today is spam, which puts a heavy strain on networks and wastes significant time, money and resources, Gates emphasized the need for an innovative solution to reduce unwanted e-mail. SmartScreen Technology, implemented in Outlook® 2003, MSN® and Hotmail® , uses a patented machine-learning approach that assigns a probability score to each incoming message based on user feedback. The information is then used to help filter out spam before it reaches the user's inbox.
Gates also announced that SmartScreen Technology will power the newly announced Microsoft Exchange Intelligent Message Filter (IMF), an add-on for Microsoft Exchange Server 2003. With this announcement, Microsoft now offers a powerful anti-spam technology across its e-mail platforms.
Shifting the focus to security, Gates emphasized Microsoft's focus on improving software quality, addressing patch management complexities, and continuing to innovate with new products and security technologies. He demonstrated ISA Server 2004, which will deliver new levels of application layer security and simplified management in an integrated solution for virtual private networking (VPN), firewalls and Web caching. ISA Server 2004, which will be available for public beta in early 2004, can be used on its own or to augment existing security infrastructures, enabling customers to help protect their networks against application-based threats.
Gates demonstrated the management and patching capabilities of Microsoft Systems Management Server 2003, which was introduced last week. In addition to its application deployment and inventory management capabilities, SMS 2003 enables large enterprises to gain complete awareness of the patch level of all machines in a network, and to quickly and effectively deploy new patches to all machines that need them. Gates noted that Microsoft's own deployment of SMS 2003 helped the company achieve 100 percent patch compliance for 110,000 systems in just eight hours.
Gates also outlined forthcoming safety technologies, including a set of security enhancements for Windows XP Service Pack 2 and Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 1 that will be delivered to customers in 2003, and discussed the extended support options for previous releases of Windows.
"Security continues to be a top priority for Microsoft. We are totally focused on creating more-secure software, and providing tools and technologies that can be easily and quickly deployed to help win the war against malicious code," Gates said. "Today's announcements are a major step toward achieving that."
Gates concluded his presentation with an optimistic view of the PC industry, noting that the software breakthroughs of today are laying the foundation for a transformation in computing that is as dramatic as the move from text-based interfaces to the graphical user interface. He highlighted the industry's opportunity to grow by delivering a new generation of software that increases productivity and efficiency, enables new communication and entertainment experiences, and rewires how companies do business.
"Our vision for seamless computing is both revolutionary and evolutionary," Gates said. "The changes users will see in the technology they use will be gradual, but the difference between the computing experience of today and the experiences that will be possible a few years from now will be like night and day."
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq "MSFT" ) is the worldwide leader in software, services and Internet technologies for personal and business computing. The company offers a wide range of products and services designed to empower people through great software any time, any place and on any device.
Microsoft, Windows Server, Windows, SharePoint, OneNote, InfoPath, Visual Studio, Outlook, MSN and Hotmail are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.
The names of actual companies and products mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners.
Note to editors: If you are interested in viewing additional information on Microsoft, please visit the Microsoft Web page at http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/ on Microsoft's corporate information pages. Web links, telephone numbers and titles were correct at time of publication, but may since have changed. For additional assistance, journalists and analysts may contact Microsoft's Rapid Response Team or other appropriate contacts listed at http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/contactpr.asp