International Leaders Explore Power of Technology To Improve Nations’ Performance

SEATTLE, April 15, 1999 — Microsoft Corp. will host more than 300 national and international government dignitaries and customers at the annual Government Leaders’ Conference taking place Wednesday, April 14 through Friday, April 16, 1999. The event is designed to empower key government officials with peer discussion and valuable knowledge for the
“Digital Age.”
This year’s theme,
“Empowering Nations With Technology,”
provides an appropriate framework for the event’s mission – to establish a forum for key dignitaries to explore the power of technology in assisting governments to better manage resources and operations. The benefits derived from this improved performance may ultimately be passed on to citizens through expanded access to social service programs, government agencies and information.

“Technological discussion and exploration is of profound importance for both individual governments and the people they represent,”
said Bill Gates, Microsoft Chairman and CEO.
“By utilizing digital tools to reinvent the way they work, governments and other organizations can gain a powerful competitive advantage as they move into the new millennium.”

Event organizers anticipate attendees from well over 50 nations, including those within Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, the South Pacific and North America. Many of these national and international leaders will head discussion groups and offer presentations during the event.

Scheduled speakers include Dr. John Hamre, deputy secretary, Department of Defense, United States; Dr. Nikolaus Schwab, IT director, Ministry of Interior, Austria; Mohamed Bhyat, chief director of IT, Gauteng Provincial Government, Johannesburg, South Africa; Guillermo Vargas, minister of education, Costa Rica; Jacques Cordonnier, president and senator, Strasbourg, France; and Linda Roberts, director of Education Technology, Department of Education, United States. Microsoft executives Gates and Robert J. Herbold, executive vice president, COO, Worldwide Operating Groups, will also present.

In addition to sharing firsthand experiences with peers, officials will explore future technological innovations, including those involving the implementation of comprehensive IT solutions. Many of these solutions are made possible through the development of a complete
“digital nervous system”
– a concept recently illustrated by Gates in his new book,
“Business @ the Speed of Thought.”
Many governments and businesses throughout the world have already turned this vision into reality, implementing a customized digital nervous system that simplifies administration and lowers the total cost of operation.

Governments and Citizens Empowered

In a world that increasingly operates within a fast-paced digital economy, global competitiveness is crucial to success. Organizations that harness technology, utilizing its many facets to enhance the speed and efficiency of communication, become empowered to compete in this complicated environment.

For example, the Federal Swiss Parliament was looking for ways to improve communication with citizens and help ensure a fully informed populace. In an endeavor to meet

this goal, the organization worked with Microsoft to begin broadcasting parliamentary debates live on the Internet. Because of the Federal Parliament’s effort to improve communication through Internet technology, Swiss citizens can access these debates on a simple PC system, regardless of where they are located.

In addition, the General Council of Alsace, France, recently implemented a comprehensive IT solution that has improved communication between the agency and the citizens it represents. Together with Microsoft and a consortium of partners, an
“e-government”
development and research program named C@bleNet was designed to allow the general populace to access public services over the regional information highway. Alsace’s citizens now enjoy fast, reliable communication with the General Council and various community outreach programs in the area.

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq
“MSFT”
) is the worldwide leader in software for personal computers. The company offers a wide range of products and services for business and personal use, each designed with the mission of making it easier and more enjoyable for people to take advantage of the full power of personal computing every day.

Microsoft is a registered trademark of Microsoft Corp.

Other product and company names herein may be 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.

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