Four New Microsoft Initiatives Build on Gates’ Vision of “Knowledge Workers Without Limits”

DALLAS, May 25, 1999 — In the latest step in the company’s campaign to meet the needs of knowledge workers, Microsoft Senior Vice President Bob Muglia announced specific plans for achieving Bill Gates’ vision of knowledge workers without limits.

At the seventh annual TechEd conference in Dallas, Muglia previewed new technology and outlined a set of four initiatives that Microsoft will use to develop new products for knowledge workers. These four initiatives include digital dashboards to deliver the right information at the right time; Web Store technology in the next version of Microsoft Exchange Server that opens applications to knowledge of all kinds; mobility and wireless solutions to provide knowledge workers with access to information anywhere; and intelligent interfaces that make it as easy to interact with PCs as with people.


Knowledge workers are without question the most important resource in the 21 st century company,” said Muglia. These four initiatives will be our guidelines for creating technology that works in connection with management practices to unlock the true potential of the knowledge worker.”

Driving for Results: Digital Dashboards

A primary challenge of knowledge workers has been to easily find all the information related to a specific job or situation. To meet this need, Microsoft is developing a new set of library and search technologies, code-named
“Tahoe”
, to enable the creation of
“digital dashboards”
, a concept discussed in Microsoft Chairman and CEO Bill Gates’ keynote at the 1999 Microsoft CEO Summit.

Essentially, these portals will use Microsoft Office 2000 to build windows into external, corporate and personal data allowing for a complete set of information from inside and outside the company. This set of technologies is based on the next version of Microsoft Exchange Server, code-named
“Platinum”
, and supports XML and HTML so that application developers can build on a set of core services to speed development of applications such as document management solutions.

Additionally, unified messaging technology will ensure that all key messages such as email, voice mail or a news alert are included in an employee’s digital dashboard. This means that information can reach knowledge workers anywhere and allow them to act on the message regardless of format, the location of the worker or the device in use.

Web Store Provides One Stop for all Related Information

Microsoft also announced the Web Store, to be delivered with Exchange
“Platinum”
, which will provide knowledge workers with one place to store all the information related to a specific topic whether it is a Microsoft Office document, email, voice mail or Web page. Thanks to a common implementation on the client and server, information on the Web Store is accessible even when the user is away from the network. The Web Store helps Information Technology managers reduce training and support costs because it unites disparate document storage systems such as the Internet, file system and collaboration server into one place to store information as well as build and run applications.

Applications in the Web Store will be easily accessible via through familiar desktop tools such as Microsoft Office, a Web browser, Windows Explorer and other applications that have support for industry standards such as MAPI, HTTP and the Server Message Block (SMB). Microsoft also previewed new technology, code-named “Grizzly,” that will be in a forthcoming release of Office Developer Edition. Grizzly will enable developers to build integrated Internet and SQL Server-based applications so that workgroups and teams can track and collaborate on key business data relevant to that group.

While the Web Store is able to unite Web servers, file systems and collaboration servers, large amounts of corporate information also reside in separate transactional systems such as Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) applications and data warehouses. Therefore, Microsoft is leading an initiative to establish common definitions and terminology across separate systems to allow information to be related and exposed through a digital dashboard. This initiative will ensure that terms used to classify sets of words like
“customer”
or
“product”
will mean the same thing to all applications that manage that data, making it easier to share information across applications.

Mobile Workforce Needs Knowledge Anytime, Anywhere

Because of an increasingly mobile workforce, knowledge workers rely on a broad set of devices to keep them in touch and access the information they need. However, each of these devices stores information in a different way, making it difficult to analyze and use. Microsoft today announced plans for wireless devices such as mobile phones, hand-held or tablet PCs to include native support for standards such as HTML and XML so that information will be available anywhere in a format optimized for the situation, person and device.

Computers That Speak Our Language

Microsoft also gave a compelling picture of a world where computers will work with people in a more natural and human way. For example, Microsoft is making significant investments in natural language processing and handwriting and speech recognition in products such as Microsoft Office. Also, the company demonstrated its ClearType technology which will make reading online easier by increasing on-screen resolution from 90 dots per inch (DPI) to near print quality of 270 DPI.

A Unique Strategy Unites the Industry

According to Muglia, Microsoft’s strategy is unique in several important ways. It relies on familiar tools, such as Microsoft Office to scale from flexible, ad hoc team collaboration up to enterprise-wide knowledge sharing. Based on a single Intranet-standards based storage system, the strategy unifies information from the Web, applications and other file systems. Microsoft’s strategy integrates collaborative and transactional data for end users through digital dashboards, at the application level through new products like Platinum and at the tools level to enable developers to create integrated applications. Finally, because knowledge management solutions are specific to the individual business processes in place, Microsoft’s strategy is strengthened by support from Independent Software Providers such as FileNET and systems integrators including KPMG and Compaq.

“Our corporate Intranet application has helped Bank of America deliver true business value to its customers and employees,” said Gary Neuman, vice president and senior systems engineer, Bank of America.

By leveraging the strengths of our Microsoft business platform and FileNET’s Web-based content management solutions, we are able to manage a large number of transactions while delivering superior customer service, two key goals of our corporate knowledge management initiative.”

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