Q&A: Microsoft’s Paul Maritz Talks About the Future of the Internet, the Evolution of Personal Computing, and Microsoft’s Commitment to Software Developers

DALLAS, May 24, 1999 — At Microsoft’s seventh annual TechEd conference for software developers, Paul Maritz, group vice president of Microsoft’s newly reorganized Developer Group, gave a keynote speech before more than 10,000 developers outlining Microsoft’s vision for the third generation of the Internet, and the company’s commitment to helping developers take advantage of the many opportunities that technology evolution will create.

In this special PressPass feature, Maritz, a 13-year veteran of Microsoft, answers questions about his new role at Microsoft and his personal determination to make sure the company is providing developers with a comprehensive solution-tools, platform services and database-that has the integration and interoperability they need to be successful in this rapidly changing industry.

Q: Why did you take this job as head of the new Developer Group at Microsoft?

Maritz: This was really about going where I was needed in the company and the ability to focus on something that is super important for Microsoft. Historically, developers have been the key to Microsoft’s success. My previous job was very broad and didn’t give me as much time to focus on a particular product set or customer segment. The reorganization allows me to focus all my attention on this very important, strategic customer set-and I’m excited about that. It’s now my job to make sure that Microsoft is providing all of the products and technologies developers need to be successful. How we meet the needs of our developer customers over the next several years will be a key indicator of our success.

Q: With Microsoft’s recent reorganization, the Developer Group has expanded to include development tools and SQL Server. What does this mean to developers?

Maritz: It demonstrates Microsoft’s recognition that we need to focus on presenting a comprehensive, integrated and interoperable technology offering to developers. These are key differentiators for Microsoft. Developers want a comprehensive solution-including tools, platform services and a database-that is integrated and interoperates with their existing technology investments.

Q: What do you bring to the Developer Group?

Maritz: I feel a real affinity for our customers, the software developers. I understand their needs and I have a passion for helping them get the tools and technologies they need to succeed in a highly competitive business environment. Microsoft is committed to strategies centered on the Internet, to giving people the ability to connect to the power of the Internet anytime, anywhere and on any device. The Internet is changing everything and creating incredible opportunities to build applications and services. I want to make sure Microsoft is helping our developer customers take full advantage of those opportunities.

Q: What is your vision for the Developer Group?

Maritz: It’s about the next generation of the Internet. No matter how far it may seem we’ve come in 24 years, we are only at the beginning. We have now seen two generations of the Internet. Early on, it was just about getting information on the Web in a standard, accessible way, which was a huge advance. The second generation that we’re in now is about creating dynamic pages and interacting with those pages to be able to do something, such as buying or selling a product or service, or making a reservation. We’ve started to see real programmability and real applications being delivered over the Web. The Internet’s third generation is on its way. The drivers will be business-to-business communication, minimizing the total cost of ownership, and making it much easier for all customers to build a robust business presence online. The applications will be richer, but the process of developing them will be simpler. Microsoft aims to be a leader in that next generation, by providing developers with technologies and tools that will enable them to exploit all the opportunities.

Q: What are the three most significant issues facing software developers today?

Maritz: Developers face many challenges, but their need for comprehensive, integrated and interoperable solutions are at the top of the list. They also have incredible opportunities, greater than we’ve seen in the two-decade history of the PC industry. The ability to turn their ideas into reality and reach millions of end users has never been more real. But to do that, they need an infrastructure, and they need leadership from companies like Microsoft, which provide some of the building blocks central to creating great products. Microsoft is only one of the companies trying to provide leadership, and it is this incredibly intense competition that helps drive the industry forward at a pace it has never seen before.

Q: How is the software development business changing? How is Microsoft prepared to address those changes?

Maritz: Much of the change is being driven by the Internet and the new opportunities it is creating. Our focus is on making our platforms, tools and database the very best in the industry, so developers can take advantage of the opportunities presented to them. One of those opportunities is the way software is distributed and obtained. Right now, it’s mostly sold, but in the future software will also be rented. Software as a service is a new paradigm that the third generation of the Internet will enable. It is our goal to play a major role in helping developers push the envelope as they embrace this change.

Q: There has been a lot of speculation lately that the PC is dead. What’s your view?

Maritz: The PC will still be at the center of computing for most people, but it will work alongside numerous companion devices and appliances. There is an incredible investment in the PC today. Most businesses have them and about half of all homes have them. We believe the future of computing will include many different devices and multiple PCs, all connected and working together. The term “personal computer,” or “PC,” as well as the concept behind it, is morphing. It’s not an “either/or” argument, it’s “either/and.” Through our investments in Windows CE and WebTV, we are helping to extend the PC into this new “PC-plus” world.

Q: What’s on the horizon? What exciting technologies should developers expect?

Maritz: One of the most exciting things about working in this industry is that we don’t have all the answers to these questions. Our crystal balls are always a little clouded. Few people predicted the incredibly rapid rise of the Internet. But to get developers to the third generation of the Internet, we are investing heavily in an off-the-shelf infrastructure of platform services and tools. This infrastructure will be Internet to the core and make it easier to build, deploy and manage applications. The functionality will be much richer than today’s Internet applications. We will provide a comprehensive, end-to-end solution-tools, platform services and database. This will be the high-volume, low-cost infrastructure of choice for developers.

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