Remarks by Bob Muglia, Vice President of Server Applications, Microsoft Corporation
May 25, 1999
MR. MUGLIA: Well, good morning. Today I’m not going to talk about DNA. Instead I’m going to talk about knowledge workers. Now, we’re all knowledge workers, because we all work with information. But, you’re more than that, you’re developers, and developers really help knowledge workers, because they build solutions. You build solutions that allow knowledge workers to run their business, to do their jobs on a daily basis. And the solutions you build can make a huge difference for knowledge workers, because it can make them much, much more effective. So today what I’m going to do is talk about some new technologies coming from Microsoft, mostly around Office and Exchange, but some other things as well, that will help make it easier for you to do your job of building great business solutions for knowledge workers.
Now, knowledge workers are people, and there’s a set of barriers that knowledge workers face. Some of those barriers are physical in their nature, because we’re human beings, and the way we interact with other people is governed by a set of physical attributes. And although there is all kinds of interesting protocols, and incredibly sophisticated things that we do to network computers and have them work together, conversation is the most powerful networking protocol that exists. And we haven’t figured out a way around that. But, there are things that we can do to make people more effective. And there are things we can do to help people face one of their biggest challenges today, which is managing their time, making them more effective in their jobs, so that they can do a better job and spend more time with their families, and at home.
Now, in addition to this physical barrier there are also a set of cultural barriers that in many cases have existed for a long time. And these have to do with the way people interact with each other and share information. And the the place where we think some of these cultural barriers can be broken through is by focusing on how individuals can work together more effectively as teams, and thus
give them reasons to share information with their peers. If something you do is shared with one of your peers and that helps them, they’re more inclined to help you out in the future, and provide you with information. And that can break through some of the cultural barriers that have existed in organizations for a long time.
Now, beyond both barriers there are a set of technical barriers. In many cases these are barriers that have been imposed by the limitations of technology that exists. Take paper. Paper is in so many ways superior to anything we can deliver today on a computer screen. Sure, computers are more interactive, but paper provides higher resolution and great note taking capability. It’s easy to file, and relatively easy to find. So there’s places where we can improve there.
One of the strongest areas where technology has impacted people, and it’s become a barrier, is the information glut that has really been brought upon us in the last few years by the Internet. Now, the Internet has made information availability tremendously improved. It has actually improved the timeliness of information by a significant margin. But what has it done for the relevance of the information that people get? With all of the information on the Internet, trying to find the thing that you were looking for is still very hard.
So those are a set of barriers that exist for knowledge workers. And where we want to go is we want to take and more forward and provide knowledge workers a world where those limits, those barriers are removed. And a central part of this is being able to take the information that’s out there, all this different information that’s coming from these diverse sources, and channeling it together, providing a relevant view that is individually customized and appropriate for a given knowledge worker.
We call that the Digital Dashboard. And I’ll show you an example of that in a few minutes. But, the basic idea is that as corporations evolve, and technology evolves, the information out there gets better and better, and the memory that a corporation has, the memory of the events, the memory of projects, of customer visits, all of those things, business data gets better and better. And so the challenge is to be able to take that information and bring it together in a way that really provides and individualized view for the knowledge worker.
Now, if you think about that individualized view, one of the barriers that still exists, a physical barrier, is the way people interact with each other. The fact that meetings are still a place where people need to get together to share their ideas. This is effectiveness that happens in that face to face communication. Well, breaking that down entirely is a real challenge, but we think that technology, by allowing application sharing, video and voice conferencing, and the ability for people to access information anywhere, that can really break down the need to have all meetings in person. So that the relevancy of information sharing can go up when you’re not together and working. And we call that meetings without walls, breaking down the barrier between people, and allowing them to share ideas in forms that are not standard, traditional meetings.
Now, something that’s associated with this is getting the information that’s relevant to a person, no matter where they are, so that they can converse and work together with others, whether they’re in their office, where the PC is their centralized device, or whether they’re out on the road visiting a customer, or if they’re just down the hall working with a co-worker. Giving the user a common access to information, having that information be with them on whatever device they have, may they have a cell phone and be able to get information that way, or a small palm sized PC, or some new generations of devices that we call tablet PCs, which provide a slightly larger surface for people to take notes, and view information. Those are all the ability to take your office, your information, and bring it with you no matter where you are.
Now, one of the barriers to this is the screen itself. And there are some technologies that can really break through and improve the readability of screens, providing a form of electronic paper. And inevitably all of this leads to some of the barriers that exist today between people and computers, the way computers work with people, the fact that the interaction is not as natural as it is, say, between one person and another. And these involve things like natural language, speech, handwriting recognition. And that’s a direction that we see computer going in the next few years. We’ve seen a lot of limitations to those technologies in the past, and there are still many obstacles to be overcome. But, there are some real breakthroughs coming that will make a difference in those areas. So all of those things together are the idea of knowledge workers without limits, breaking through the barriers, these natural barriers that exist.
Now, putting all of this in context is this idea of the digital nervous system. Now, for about a year and a half we’ve been talking about an overall vision of how business applications can be created, and how people can work together in this digital era. And there are really four parts to the digital nervous system. There is the way knowledge workers work together, which we call knowledge management, the way business operations are created, the way developers create operations for business, there’s electronic commerce, which allows customers and partners to work together, and share information. And then underneath all of this is a common infrastructure that enables all of that, an operating system that makes it all possible. So all of what I’m talking about today is in the framework of the digital nervous system, but my focus is going to be on knowledge management.
Now, in order to make knowledge management come alive, this vision of knowledge workers without limits, we have a set of four initiatives that we’ve put together, and these are primarily technical initiatives, but there’s a strong partner side to these as well, because we will not be able to accomplish these things on our own, we need to work together with the industry at large, and with all of you to make the solutions happen for your end users.
The first of these we call the Digital Dashboard, which brings the information together and provides a common view, a view that is appropriate for a given knowledge worker. The second is a revolutionary new technology that we’re announcing today, called the Web Store. This is a new feature of Exchange, in the upcoming release of Exchange Platinum, that opens up collaborative systems to information and applications of all kinds. The third area is initiatives focused on mobility and wireless, making these easy to carry, small devices, that have access to your information, regardless of where you are, wherever you are. And the fourth of these is the ongoing focus on improving the way computers interact with people, and focusing on a couple of really interesting breakthrough technologies that implement some changes there.
Now, the first of these is focused on the Digital Dashboard, the focus of taking and delivering the right information to people at the right time, when they want it. And there is a set of underlying tenets that makes this possible. The first of those is the idea of having information in a common format. The fact that the world is moving to HTML and XML as a unifying format for the display of information and we need, and in fact Microsoft is delivering, a set of editors that focus on the needs of a given problem space, but work with this common format.
Now, taking all that information that’s out there and actually being able to bring it back and categorize it, provide a view that is appropriate for the user, regardless of where that information is stored, that’s key to being able to provide this Digital Dashboard.
Now, there’s another side of this, which is the interaction between people, the fact that the way people can share information and communicate with each other, video and application conferencing is a major part of this, with initiatives like the NetMeeting product, as well as some of the back end things we’re doing in Exchange, to make it much, much easier to share information. Instant messaging and buddy lists, the ability to find out who is online at a given moment, and to be able to instantly send a message to that person and ask a question, and get a quick answer. The fact that we live in a world where voice mail and email are completely separate, bringing those together is key and providing an underlying integrated store that lets people get at their information regardless of who sent it, and what form they used to send it.
And finally, for this class of applications there is a set of tools that are needed to make it easy to build solutions, easy to build document libraries, easy to build discussions, easy to build team workspaces, so that teams can centralize where they have their information, and users can easily go to that place and add to it, or find the exact information they need.
Now, Office is a tenet of the strategy here, because it provides this set of desktop applications that are widely used by over 90 million users around the world. And what we’ve done with Office 2000, which was a very architecturally focused release of Office. What we did in that release is change the internals of the product, to move to this common format for sharing of information, that common format based on HTML and XML, which is now fully a part of all of the Office applications, the ability to work with Web servers as easily as you can work with file servers. That was a lot of architectural work that needed to be done to office to make that happen. But, by doing that we set in place the foundation for using the Office tools by teams to share information, and to work with business information around the enterprise.
Now, another real focus of Office has been to reach out to business systems and make it easy to get at the business data and provide views, OLAF based business intelligence views of data. So that was another key thing. And a third real focus of Office has been to open up the sharing of information and the collaboration for people with things like integration of NetMeeting and Outlook together, to make it easy for users to set up voice and application conferences.
Now, one of the other big things that happened in Office is we completed the programmability across the application. Most importantly, Outlook 2000 now includes full VBA compatibility, as a part of the product, and there is now a complete object model to let you work with VBA. Beyond that, one of the things that’s happened in Office 2000 is a common model across all the applications for add-ins, either add-ins that can be purchased by third parties, or those that are developed internally within a corporation. Now, all of this is really about taking Office and providing a set of components as a part of it that make it easy for you to build business applications that leverages the great presentation ability and edit document creation ability that Office provides. An important thing here is that we’ve moved Office to being a worldwide product, with one executable around the world. So that when you create applications, it’s really straight forward for you to build those applications and have them run around the world.
Okay. With that, what I’d like to do now is show some of these concepts coming together, and do a demo of the Digital Dashboard.
Well, first of all, what I want to show here is a Digital Dashboard that was very recently put together for me. This is something I’ve just started using over the last week or two. It was personalized for my use on information that’s of interest. And you can see here that the front page is all things that are of most interest to me when I come in, in the morning. Critical messages, my calendar, I can get a view of my day, as well as the current view of my business. So the critical messages are the things that I need to attend to right away, and I see here that there is a message that’s unread, called Coming to Mexico. And when I bring it up it’s actually a voice message, this is because Microsoft is beginning to implement an integrated voice mail and email system with one of our partners. So a possibility of speaking in Mexico, I can go ahead and forward that on to my admin. Hear that one?
Now, I see another unread message here about an Office 2000 RDP escalation. And in this case, this message was actually generated by one of the work flows that exists inside Microsoft, and it’s an indication that I need to approve, in this case, an expenditure of $75,000 to do some additional videotaping for the Office launch next week.
Now, one of the things we’ve done at Microsoft is, we’ve moved to online approval of business information, purchasing, and in this case approval of external expenditures, so getting messages like this is actually a part of our daily job. And so, in this case, I’ll go ahead and I’ll approve that workflow.
So that’s sort of the critical thing today. You see my calendar. But there’s also a set of other things that are interesting to look at. We have a view here of traffic information that this is actually a live picture off of the Internet. It’s still kind of dark in Seattle right now. I can also get a picture of the weather and see what’s going on at a high level, a satellite view of weather. So, that’s just the basic thing for me to look at.
Now, beyond that, there’s a set of things that I can go and go out and seek for information, say, what’s happening, if I’ve got time to browse things. So, here’s news. And this is a set of news clippings that come in and then get routed and categorized for me to look at. So, in this case, this is information about Microsoft, this is information about competitors, as well as information about partners. So it makes it very easy to find out what’s happening on a given day.
Now, I obviously work a lot with customers, and there’s a way for the sales representatives who are planning briefings with me at some point, either onsite at a customer or in Redmond, to be able to provide me information about a given set of customers. So, for example, if I take a look at a briefing that’s coming up on BP, I can see an agenda and a background, and an itinerary. Give me a bunch of background information that’s appropriate for that customer before I meet with them.
Now, a big part of my job is running a set of products. I have responsibility for Office and Exchange, amongst other things. So understanding the status of products is very interesting to me. And, in this case, I have an active view of the ongoing bug count in the Exchange
project, the Platinum project that’s currently underway, and as you can see the trends of the bugs, they went down, down, down. And then last Thursday we shipped the technical beta of Exchange Platinum, the bugs were at a low point there, and we’ve now started beginning to do check-ins that are associated with the next beta of that product. So, that’s a product view.
And, again, a key part of what I need to track in my job is what’s happening in the business, and across my different product lines. And this provides me a view of information that of the last quarter, actual sales relative to plan. I can see here that desktop applications were a little bit below plan last quarter. And if I take and I drill into what that is, what I’ve got here is the set of controls, Excel controls, the Office Web controls, that ship with Office 2000.
And in this case, what they’re doing is, they’re hooking up to a back-end SQL Server 7 OLAP database. Microsoft runs an SAP, all of our business information is stored in SAP. But then we take that information out and we have a data warehouse that’s built on SQL Server 7, and the OLAP Server. And by using these controls, or Excel, any end user can get customized views that are appropriate for them in their business. And this is a really important part of the overall needs for knowledge management, because knowledge management certainly includes people working together and collaborating, but it also includes access to business data, and business intelligence.
If I drill into this, I can take a look at desktop applications, and I can see that, in fact, it was Office that was somewhat under plan. And if I wanted to take a look at that, and check it out by district, I could, for example, choose to look at just what’s happening in California, and get a view of that.
Sometimes it’s interesting when you’re traveling from district to district around the country or the world, to look at information. Looking at how we’re doing relative to plan, or how sales are going in a given district, it’s interesting to look at that from a numeric perspective. But sometimes it’s interesting to have a view of it that’s more geographical in nature. And so a new product for Microsoft which is shipping relatively coincident with Office 2000 is a product called MapPoint, which let’s you take information and get a geographic view of it. And, in this case, I can see that the part that’s really under plan is the Midwest region, which is highlighted in red. So, I might be interested in sending a message to the Midwest district manager and understand what might be going on there.
So, that’s looking at business information. But if I specifically want to find out information, presentations, or who I might want to contact to find out about something, Microsoft has a large intranet with literally thousands of Web servers and file shares on it. And actually finding and navigating information through that is really, really difficult. So, we have a new set of technologies, which are codenamed Tahoe, that make it very, very easy to go out and crawl the entire intranet network. Get information regardless of where it’s stored. You know, it can be inside SQL Server, it can be a file share, it can be a Web server, it can be inside an Exchange
public folder, it can even be inside a Notes database. That’s not something we have a large number of at Microsoft, but for a lot of customers, I know that’s very important. And so, take this information and bring it back, provide a solid view of that, and make it easy for people to find information.
So if, for example, I wanted to find out a little bit about small business, I could go ahead and run a query on that. And when I get back, instead of just getting back a long list, if it had been matched against, say, the existing Site Server product, would have returned hundreds and hundreds of hits, and the likelihood of the information that was really relevant to me being at the top is pretty low.
So, what we’re doing is, with part of Tahoe is, we’re establishing common XML-based ontologies, they’re called, common vocabularies, ways of categorizing information, and making it possible for people to indicate which documents are more relevant in what context. And so, that’s what makes it possible for us to implement this Best Bet feature, which in this case brings together both documents and people that are most likely to be able to answer my question.
So, with that, I can see that, for example, if I want to find out who might have some information about Best Bet, Betsy Johnson has some information about that. And I can see that Betsy is actually available. So, if I wanted to go ahead and send Betsy an instant message to communicate, or to pick up the phone and call her, I could easily do that.
So, that’s my Digital Dashboard. This is something that’s new. This is something that we’re starting to implement for executives across Microsoft. And there’s still a lot more work to do. There’s a lot of interesting things I know we can add to this overtime.
With that, what I’d like to do is bring up Mike Gilbert and Howard Crow to talk about how the Digital Dashboard was put together.
MR. GILBERT: Hi, Bob.
MR. MUGLIA: Good morning, Mike.
Good morning, Howard.
MR. CROW: Good to see you.
MR. MUGLIA: Good to see you.
MR. GILBERT: So, when we started out with the Digital Dashboard project, the first thing that we did was a little inventory across Microsoft to figure out where the different pieces of information resided across out company, and we found that there were really 50 or 60 different key types of information at Microsoft, and they varied from document libraries all the way up to our sales data that Bob showed you earlier. So, we had that on the one side.
Then, on the other side, we also had a lot of different people who needed to get at that information. So, people like myself, a product manager, Bob, an executive, the sales force, and developers. And so all the different permutations that are there can be pretty strenuous on development.
So, what we did was develop a modular way of attacking the problem. What we created are these things that we call information nuggets. And so here you see, as I’m opening up the calendar or a news ed, for example, are these information nuggets. We call each one of these things a nugget. And it’s really a view, a personalized view of the information that’s in our different information stores. And, like I said, we found a bunch of different ones.
Here in Visual InterDev, we can see a nugget that was actually built for Bill, that stores all the different presentations. Bill spends a lot of his time doing presentations, and wants to have access to both his presentations, and those of other executives, so they can learn from each other, and see what they’re doing when they’re out on the road.
And what you’ll see is three main components to this nugget. There’s the control that allows me to open and close the nugget, and we did that for real estate reasons. Some people wanted to have a lot of different nuggets on their screens, so we needed to be able to open and close it. We have a way of actually doing some filtering or pointing at different folders with DHTML pointing at the Active X control, and this is the body of it. And this is actually the Outlook view control. And, as Bob referred to earlier, there are really four main controls that Office comes with, the Outlook view control, the pivot table control, the spreadsheet control and the chart control, which we’ve seen today.
Now, if we take a peek at the source in the background, it’s actually relatively simple. Most of the code here is just really formatting and tables. So what we have is the header here, and then down below are the actual tabs that let you
and here we’re using DHTML on the view control itself — change the view by pointing to a new folder. In this case, it’s Bill’s folder or Steve’s folder. And then, finally, the Active X control is embedded in the page here at the bottom. And here, you can see, we’re starting out with a folder view, pointing at Bill’s folder. And so, it’s really just a matter of dropping in these Office controls into these nuggets, and so to change the different views and the different types of information that we’re pointing at.
MR. MUGLIA: Great. So, that’s an idea of how the Digital Dashboard as a whole is put together. Let’s take a look at how that workflow works.
MR. GILBERT: Sure thing. Well, just as important as the Digital
Dashboard are the operational and other team oriented systems that feed into it. So, what we’re looking at here is the team workspace for the rapid deployment program support team. And this is where they would track issues related to the RDP. And let me go in and show you the application first, and then show you how we very easily created it using some tools that will be shipping with Office 2000 Developer.
Now, a couple of important aspects about workflow that I wanted to demonstrate, first off, are rules that enforce transitions between state in the data. So, for example, here’s an issue that was just opened up, and there’s a status field. And one of the things we wouldn’t want to do is go ahead and close this out right away without assigning it to a support engineer. So, if I try to change the state to closed, you’ll see that when I save the record, I get a message, and that’s being generated by a rule that we’ve implemented as part of this workflow application.
The other aspect of the workflow application is the ability to create actions that are associated with transitions. So, let me find another record here that’s already been assigned. And let’s say that the managers decided that we really need to execute this issue to you, Bob. We can actually go ahead, change the state, and that will actually trigger some code to send that email message that you saw earlier. So, there are two ideas there, the ideas of state management and events.
MR. MUGLIA: So, now just to be clear, this is a view of a data page inside Outlook, right?
MR. : That’s right.
MR. MUGLIA: And what you’re showing is some technology that we’ll be bringing in later that makes it easy for people to build these work flow applications on SQL and Access based data pages, and other SQL apps?
MR. GILBERT: That’s right. This is a page developed using Access 2000, data pages running against a SQL database, and I’m going to show how we workflow enabled that database using a designer that we’ve code named Grizzly that will be shipping in an update to Office 2000 Developer.
Now, this may have been a complex task in the past to go and add all of the workflow rules to an existing database, but with this designer it’s actually very easy. Now, we’ve already defined the table that contains the information we’re interested in. That’s already selected. And the only thing I need to do as a designer, at this point, is choose the different states that I want to track. For example, we have a call come in, and the call is opened in the database, we then assign that to a support engineer. And then, eventually, when the issue is resolved, we go ahead and close that out. It’s a very, very common issue tracking system.
I’m going to add those as the workflow states. I’m going to create a linear workflow state, so I’m comfortable with the order in which those are managed, and all I need to do is click finish, and the designer is going out to SQL Server 7, adding the triggers and procedures to enforce those rules.
Now, I should point out that while we’re working with the SQL Server 7 database today, because that’s where our data was stored, the designer will actually work against the Exchange Platinum workflow engine when that ships as well.
MR. MUGLIA: So, what that means is that work flows that might begin inside a business operational system and extend out to a messaging or collaborative system, and then wind up back in business, can be tracked and created with this tool?
MR. GILBERT: Exactly.
Now, what we’re looking at here is just a graphical view of that workflow. As a call comes in, it works through the state, and these are the rules that are being enforced. But, let’s say that I decide I needed to add that escalated state? I can go ahead and just right click, and add a new state to the diagram, so we don’t have to go back to through the wizard if we don’t need to. And once that’s done, go ahead and just add the actions that are associated with that.
So, for example, from the assigned state, I can escalate a call, and we’ll give that an event name. And, likewise, when an escalated call is resolved, we can close that out. And so, again, we’re adding some workflow rules on the fly here that will, again, be saved back to the database.
The second aspect is the idea of events that are triggered in the transition between states. So, for example, when a call is moved from the assigned state, escalated I want to send that email message. And you see at the bottom we’ve actually got the opportunity to write some event codes behind this, and I happen to have some C.O. code I stored in the Office 2000 code librarian that I can simply drag and drop down into that will actually send that email.
And the last thing I wanted to show is the fact that one of the other things that the workflow designer does is enforces permission based on the roles the people have within the team. So, for example, if I didn’t want everyone to be able to send email to you through the escalation process, I can select just those roles that have that permission. For example, the managers and the executives.
So, all I need to do now is save it out, reapply those rules, and we’re all set.
MR. MUGLIA: That’s great. Thanks a lot, Mike.
MR. GILBERT: Thank you.
MR. MUGLIA: So, those workflow capabilities will actually be shipping into an update of the Microsoft Office Developer. There’s a Microsoft Office Developer that will ship at the same time Office 2000 ships, but we’ll be updating it later in the year. So, people who have purchased the Office Developer will get this workflow designer later on in the year.
The Office Developer is a great package for people who want to build applications that include Office. And it includes things like the MSCE, the desktop run-time version of SQL Server, as well as a lot of things to help you connect up to real SQL Server solutions.
And, as Mike mentioned, we will be enhancing that workflow designer to work across both SQL Server and Exchange Platinum in the future.
Now, what I’d like to do is take a little bit of time and talk a bit more about the next release of Exchange Platinum. I mentioned that last week we just shipped to our technical beta site the next version of Platinum, the beta version of Platinum. And this is a really major upgrade to Exchange that will be coming next year.
Now, you know, I mentioned that in Office we did a lot of replumbing to work on the HTML and XML format as an underlying capability. We’ve done the same level of changes to Exchange Platinum. It’s a very, very architectural release of Exchange. Now, a major focus of that is to even further improve its rock solid enterprise capabilities, and making it a great platform for people to build applications on.
One of the key things that we’ll be moving to is virtual server support in multi-node clustering, so that you can have multiple databases on different servers, and have those servers fully active, and have fail over capability between those, with full transaction logging.
In fact, we’re moving to a front-end/back-end architecture that is appropriate for large corporate sites, as well as Internet usage of Platinum. So that you can have front-ends that are taking Internet protocols coming in, and directing them to multiple back-end clusters that have multiple servers hooked together for fail over capability to improve overall availability of any given user’s data, but that also distribute across multiple servers. So that front-end/back-end architecture potentially could allow a site
you know, we have some big customers of Exchange, customers that have over 150,000 users, and some of those customers have really big sites with 30, 40 and 50 thousand users on it. The goal with Exchange Platinum would be to allow those customers that have 50,000 or more users on a single site to move to a single Exchange cluster for their entire site, and then that same technology will allow us and our partners to begin deploying Exchange in Internet situations where there are literally tens and hundreds of thousands of simultaneous users, and many millions of total users.
The focus here is really on improving scalability, supporting these clustered environments, and also supporting servers with multiple databases on a given server.
Now, another key part of Platinum, and in some ways this was one of the original goals of Platinum, was to really focus on and take advantage of the new capabilities in Windows 2000. So, Platinum is very deeply integrated with Windows 2000. We’ve done some good things to help people who have deployed Exchange 5.5 work with and migrate to the Active Directory with synchronization between Exchange 5.5 and the Active Directory. There’s some great work that’s been done there.
Platinum is really built on top of the Active Directory. And it really takes deep, deep advantage of it. Now, all of that said, we are working on departmental versions of Platinum that don’t require a complete roll-out of the Active
Directory in an organization to get some of the knowledge management benefits of Platinum. But when you think about moving to a Windows 2000 Active Directory environment across an enterprise, Exchange makes it possible to build all of that on a single infrastructure because it completely leverages all of the capabilities of Active Directory and management through MMC.
Now a real major focus of Exchange is to really take the next step, in a very major way, of creating a new collaborative platform, something that goes beyond any of the solutions that certainly we, or other companies like Lotus, have created in the past. And the focus of that collaborative platform is to be a great back end server for Office 2000, Office 2000 documents, and Office 2000 users. That’s clear, having these things work as a matched pair with Office on the client and Exchange on the back end. That’s what we’ve designed them to do. But, we’re going quite a bit further with that by improving the capabilities of that back end store, in some very dramatic ways.
And what we call this is the Web Store. This is a new feature of Exchange, it will be introduced in the Platinum release that we are announcing today. And what the Web Store does is, for the first time it brings together information that in the past had been stored in a messaging in a collaboration server, an intranet Web server, and in a file server. And it allows companies to build a common infrastructure based on Exchange that brings all three of those things together. And so your documents, the things that you put in file servers, a thing that you would have put in intranet Web servers, and the things that you’d use for messaging collaboration all can come together in Exchange, because of this unique, new next generation technology called the Web Store.
Now for some of the attributes of the Web Store. First of all, it’s open to third party applications, that’s an important thing, that any application that’s saved using standard Win32 calls can participate in Exchange Platinum and the Web Store. It uses open protocols, we’re very strongly adopting all of the Internet protocols, most importantly HTTP and the Web dev extensions therein. The underlying format of the database and the way the metadata is described is all based on XML, not surprisingly. This sort of store makes it very easy to integrate with line of business data, and as Mike talked about we’ll be able to build work flows, it will be straightforward for you to build work flows that span SQL Server and Exchange Platinum.
I described the scalability aspects that allow departments to be rolled out, without deploying a complete Active Directory infrastructure, enterprises, certainly, and then also all the way up to the Internet. And the key to this, the underlying capability that makes this possible is that the Web Store is built on a next generation file system. So what we’ve actually done with the Web Store is we’ve created a Windows NT file system, a file system for Exchange that allows data, regardless of where it has previously been stored, to come together and be put in this one store.
With that, what I’d like to do is invite Alex Huffman up, to do a demo of Exchange Platinum, and the web store.
MR. HUFFMAN: Good morning. Thank you, Bob.
So what I’d like to show you today is how with Exchange Platinum we’re going to deliver this Web Store that’s going to bridge the gap between sort of traditional collaborative applications, your email, your PIM data, all your file documents, and give you access to all of those things in a consistent way anywhere, and also provide a really strong platform for building applications.
So if you can see here, I’m running Outlook 2000, talking to my Platinum server. And I’m going to switch here to Windows Explorer, so I have two windows open, Outlook and Windows Explorer, and using the Web folders feature that’s part of Office 2000, I can actually have a URL right in my mailbox, that I can actually open up right in Windows Explorer and get access to that same data. Now, one of the aspects here is with Exchange Platinum everything is addressable by a URL. And it’s easy to read. It’s not some GUID, it’s an easy to read human readable URL.
So I can actually come in here and I’ve got inside my mailbox I’ve got this email Eric Lockhert sent me, and we have a weekly meeting where we give you an update on status. And so I actually have a folder where I want to collect information about that meeting. And so I can go and take that email, and copy it using Windows Explorer, right into that folder. So I just copy it over, and you’ll see the email disappears from inside Outlook. I can update Outlook to go look at the page, or I can also look at the same information, again, inside Windows Explorer.
MR. MUGLIA: So what you’re showing is using Windows Explorer to work with information that’s inside an Exchange user’s mailbox.
MR. HUFFMAN: Right. It’s in the Web Store, and this happens to be a user’s mailbox, but it also works in a public folder all of my data has exactly the same hierarchy and exactly the same organization that makes sense to me as a user. So I can put different types of data in those same places. I’m not limited to one type of content per area. So, for example, I can go and I can copy this Word document into the same place, just again using Windows Explorer, and it copies over, and you see the document appear inside Outlook, it’s all completely alive and hooked up, it’s all able to share a similar model for events, for being able to have work flow processes, and for even doing document property promotion.
MR. MUGLIA: One of the things we’ve done with Exchange Platinum is extended the event model with both synchronous and asynchronous events, to make it possible to build really all kinds of applications on top of this. This is a great opportunity for both ISVs and developers within business to build great solutions.
MR. HUFFMAN: Exactly. Also the Office 2000 apps all support this same interface from within the normal file open and file save. So I can actually go into file open, right here inside Word and go access that same information and open that document that I just saved off into the Web Store. So I come up into Word and there’s the document.
MR. MUGLIA: So users who are used to using Office can now interact directly with this data, they don’t have to go through Outlook or go through some funny set of steps to move data in and out of the system?
MR. HUFFMAN: Now, with this system, of course, I mentioned that you’re able to get access to data anywhere. And it was fairly important to us that that really also included all your back level applications. So if I put my information in the Web Store, I don’t need to worry about not being able to get to it. As Bob mentioned earlier, one of the things we’ve done is implemented this file system which allows us to actually go and access information through this normal Windows file API. How many of you here actually expected to come in 1999 to a Microsoft conference and see a DOS command prompt demonstration?
But, nevertheless, I thought it was probably the best way to show off what we’re actually doing here. So let me go and do a next view, which will mount the X drive, and connect the pass for my mailbox. And this is using the SMB protocol, which we’re able to just support the SMB server, because it’s all exactly the same, you know, it’s just talking to Exchange as if Exchange were a file system. It’s a file system. So I can come here into my folder, change directory, I can do
I’ve got to type that right. I can do a directory in here.
MR. MUGLIA: That’s a dir, that’s the same view really that you have in Outlook.
MR. HUFFMAN: Exactly. I can make a new directory using the MD command here, and you’ll see that the directory appears right there in Outlook, or let’s go into that folder that we were copying the data into before, and I’ve got a file here on my C drive called Metric.doc, and I’ll just copy that right to here, and you see it shows up. And as I mentioned before, we have property promotion, which allows us to go and for instance get information from Office docs, like the author property. This document was authored by Larry Leseur, and so we’re able to go and display that information, index it, query against it, in rich views.
MR. MUGLIA: So it is a file system, and it provides the same level of back level capabilities you’d expect from any Windows NT file system, but it’s much, much richer than what exists in comparison to, say, NTFS. In this case not only can we do content indexing against the data that’s stored in there, but there’s a set of tree based sort indices that can be used on properties that are stored. And what Alex just showed is when we copied a document in, it didn’t matter how it got there, in this case we used the SMB protocol, and the DOS command to actually copy it in, when that Office document showed up, a filter ran and the property based information, in this case author, was extracted from it and indexed on the fly.
MR. HUFFMAN: So, of course, being able to run DOS commands against your Exchange mailbox is not the main reason we did this. And so to actually show part of the point I added an AutoCAD document here. And keep in mind, the DOS commands I was showing earlier are completely unmodified, and this is of course and unmodified, normal version of AutoCAD, and I can just go to this save as dialogue here, go right to my X drive that I mounted there earlier, and save this document right in this same folder. I close that then, after it saves, give it a second. You see the document appears right inside Outlook and I can actually open it up right there, AutoCAD will launch as normal, and everything is all wired up.
MR. MUGLIA: So the key here is that Auto CAD is working just like any application would work with this file system. And from Auto CAD’s perspective, or from any application that’s working with the Web Store, they just see it as a standard Windows NT file system. But, in fact, it’s a much richer store, it’s a place where documents of all kinds can be brought together, collaborative services can be done, messaging can be done. It’s all integrated into one place.
MR. HUFFMAN: Now, I told you that we were going to use this capability to let people put their documents in the Web Store and get to it from anywhere. And in this day and age, to get to it from anywhere often has to include a Web browser. Now, we’ve put a lot of effort into improving Outlook Web access in Exchange Platinum, and in fact, part of the whole point of the Web Store is to provide a really strong foundation for building a high performance Outlook with access.
Talking to our customers, in planning for this release, they told us two things that they wanted us to most be focused on for that application. Being able to focus on performance, so you can really build and deploy scalable Web servers, and consistency with Outlook, so you don’t have to have complete retraining.
MR. MUGLIA: So regardless of where a user goes they can get at their data, and they have an Outlook like view.
MR. HUFFMAN: Right. We’re actually taking advantage of Internet Explorer 5 with dynamic HTML here, so we’re actually able to provide a very rich user interface that is able to have keyboard navigation, I can go and look through my different email messages just using the keyboard, or I can create a new mail message here, and the point is that users are going to be able to just take advantage of their very normal
high tech ed, they’re going to be able to take advantage of the normal user interfaces that they expect on a Windows machine, to interact with their data from any Web browser as they roam around.
MR. MUGLIA: Now, this level of experience is possible because Internet Explorer 5 supports both dynamic HTML, and XML. We actually send the data to Internet Explorer in XML based format. And so this rich level of interaction of interaction is possible there. But, we’ve also built a down level experience for other browsers, that provides less good user interaction, but the same level of capabilities, effectively.
MR. HUFFMAN: Right. So as a really good example of why this richer type of interaction is important to users, I’ve got my calendar here today. Now, I’m not much of a morning person, frankly, so I’m not sure how much I was into that 8:45 meeting. I think I saw some of you coming in a little late, so I don’t know if any of you were with me on this one. But, I’m able to just go and use drag and drop right in the Web browser to sort of rearrange my day, and everyone go make sure you check out the exhibit hall, but let’s wait until Bob is done for that. Again, just provide a really easy way to interact with the data, even if it’s in a web browser, in ways you weren’t able to do with the down level browser support.
From there it’s also, of course, this is a developer conference, I promised that I would show you a little bit about this developing Web applications here on Platinum. There are two main ways that I’m going to show you how to do that. The first is, I’ve actually created an ASP page, that I’ve stored in my Exchange Web Store. Now, by putting the ASP in the Web Store, I’m able to take advantage of the replication capabilities you get there, so it could be replicated across multiple servers. It’s able to bind against data in the normal OADB and EDO, so I’m going to use all my normal tools to go look at that data.
So, for example, this page is going to the same folder where I was preparing for my weekly status meeting, and this is agenda page that we’re going to use for keeping track of topics. I think we need to discuss documents that people should prepare with ahead of time and things like that. Now, to author Web applications, of course you expect to be able to use normal Web tools. And so Exchange Platinum is now able to, again because of the Web Store, use FrontPage. So I can bring this document up in FrontPage, take a look at the HTML source, because this is an ASP and we want to go and extend this page to have information on upcoming meetings. And I’ll use the magical demo typing feature to put a bunch of extra source code in there. Now, I realize this text is very small. But, when you get a chance to play with this, we’re also going go into more detail in a session later today, it’s normal ADO, it’s the normal mechanisms you use inside any ASP page to loop over a rote set.
MR. MUGLIA: So you can store ASPs inside the Web Store. And one of the things you get is the full benefit of replication capabilities that public folders have, so you can replicate those things to multiple servers. So it’s compatible with the tools that you’d expect to use, to create web applications. But it provides a lot of benefit, because it brings with it the richness of Exchange.
MR. HUFFMAN: So, for example, there’s the new information I just added. I added an additional query that goes and takes appointment data out of that folder and displays meeting times.
MR. MUGLIA: And in this case Alex is showing FrontPage as a tool, but again a key is that it’s open to tools of all kinds, certainly including the tools that people are using today to build applications on Exchange with Outlook forms. But, beyond that now, a new set of Web tools can be used.
MR. HUFFMAN: Exactly. So to actually show some of the power of using those Web tools, we went to Microsoft.com and imported some of the Exchange sites from there, right into an exchange folder, into a web folder, and you can see I’ve got the data there from Microsoft.com, and we can actually go and use FrontPage, all the capabilities that has for managing web sites, against my Web Store. So, for example, FrontPage has a capability to show the list of files where I can get a navigation view, where I can look at the structure that I’ve defined for my site, or the hyperlinked view, where I can monitor for different pages and where they link to. All of those capabilities that you actually need to maintain a normal Web site are now that you’ve got the Web Store accessible within Platinum, or the report page.
MR. MUGLIA: Now, this is possible because, again, the Web Store is just an NT file system. And it organizes data the way any Web server would expect data to be organized, hierarchically within it, thus allowing a hyper navigational view, a link based view on top of it. Now, in this case, I mean, Alex is showing Microsoft.com pages, and using FrontPage against it. We’re not yet running Microsoft.com on Platinum. But, we’ve built the product in a way that we could do that. And the key is that when we move to using Platinum as both our intranet and Internet Web servers, we’ll be able to use the same tools to do it. And this is a key benefit for all of you trying to build business solutions on top of intranet Web sites.
MR. HUFFMAN: So I wanted to go and extend the normal site that we’ve got on Microsoft.com and add an events calendar. Now, normally I could write that using an ASP, but it would probably take me ’till the next century, which isn’t saying as much as it used to be, but it’s still a little longer than I wanted to do here. So I’m going to show you the other way that we actually really support building applications to take advantage of some of our built in Web client capabilities. I’m opening the calendar page that’s the destination of that link here inside FrontPage, and you can see it’s a frameset, and I can actually just go and point to a URL in my normal exchange URL scheme. So I’ve got a folder called events that contains the event data, and I’m putting a parameter on the end of the URL, in this case command equals, I’d better set that right, content, which will tell the Web browser to just display part of the user interface. Using this it’s possible to actually go and take part of the Web client interface that we’ve built and incorporate them into your own applications. So this thing just goes and it’s saving it off to the server, and I can now follow that link, and you’ll see it all loads right here, and I’ve got the full functionality that we’ve provided of the Web client running right inside my existing other contents. So I can actually even come and double click one of these items and look at the detail view of that event.
MR. MUGLIA: So those are actually the controls that we’re building, these dynamic HTML controls that run both in IE 5, and there’s a down level version that works, as well, for non-IE 5 based browsers. Those things are reusable, and things that developers can build solutions on, as well.
MR. HUFFMAN: And if you put that in there they both automatically work.
MR. MUGLIA: That’s great. Thanks a lot, Alex.
MR. MUGLIA: So what you can see about Exchange Platinum and the Web store is that it really brings together information of all kinds, and provides a next generation store that lets people build applications and put data together in ways that you could never do before.
Now, the way we do this is there is we built a new architecture. Like I said, this release of Exchange is a very architectural release. And we made a lot of underlying changes to make this possible. The biggest change, the key thing that we’ve done is we’ve added a new file system. This is a full Windows NT file system that’s called EXIFS, and it runs in kernel mode, as you’d expect a file system to do. And it provides the underlying capabilities that allow you to move data in and out through any means.
So, for example, if an application wants to make a Win32 API call, it can do that because the file system provides that underlying structure. And if that call is remoted across the network, it comes through the TCP/IP stack, and the NTIO system exactly the same way really in the way it would work against any other file system like NTFS. Now, in terms of Web protocols, like I said, while we fully support, and will continue to support in the future mapping and all of the different protocols that Exchange supports today, focusing on web protocols is very critical moving forward, and we’re putting a lot of energy into those, particularly the Web dev extensions to HTTP.
And the interaction with Exchange Platinum, and the new Web Store, between IIS, the Internet Information Server, and Exchange, is really fundamentally the same interaction that IIS has with NTFS. Now, when NT was designed, and we built a Web server on it, many releases ago, this is going back before NT 4, we built that to allow the Web server to have very, very efficient access to information that’s stored inside the NT cache manager, typically used by NTFS. And IIS has always been a very efficient Web server, because requests can come into IIS that can be reflected into the NT cache manager, and then there’s a call that’s made from IIS, which runs in user mode, a call that’s made into kernel mode, called transmit file, that allows you to blast data out there, and stream it out at the full speed of the network.
Now, having that kind of architecture on top of a non-file system has never been possible. And so what we’ve done with Exchange is we’ve built this file system and we can get essentially the same level of performance serving up Web pages with Exchange Platinum, as you get with any IIS application that’s taking data out of NTFS, and NTFS’s cache. So this really is a brand new generation and it’s revolutionary in terms of the way data can be stored, in one place, users can access it from any different application, and it can be very, very efficiently served up.
Now, if you contrast that with Exchange 5.5, or other older generation systems, like Notes R5, it’s very hard for those things to be efficient in serving up Web data. The reason for this is that they have a Web server process that runs in user mode, and they have their proprietary database format that also runs in user mode, and to get the data back and forth between them, there needs to be a remote procedure call protocol established, that translates or thunks the data back and forth. In other words, it takes the data that’s coming in, in a native HTTP format, and it needs to reformat that to get it across into the database cache, and then send it back. And that thunking, you know, moving data back and forth, transitioning between kernel mode and user mode, and translating the data is a very, very inefficient process. So these systems are really not appropriate for general purpose Web servers, like Exchange Platinum is.
So now, in thinking about the overall strategy, you know, Exchange Platinum is clearly a huge step forward. But knowledge management requires more than collaboration and messaging, it requires more than Internet publishing as well. It also involves accessing business information that’s stored inside business applications, like Peoplesoft, or Baan, or J.D. Edwards, and SAP, getting at that data, and providing users with rich views of that information that’s really appropriate for them.
So, this combination of having structured business data that’s typically stored in a SQL database, and unstructured, semi-structured or collaborative data that’s more appropriate for Platinum, those are both two anchor points that are necessary for any complete knowledge management strategy.
And so our focus here is to provide the best of both. To provide a best of breed solution for the structured SQL relational side with great built-in capabilities for doing business intelligence and OLAP queries against that, and then also provide this next generation storage system, the web store, this next generation file system, and have both of those as two pillars of a strategy. But then do things to make it easy to build solutions that cross between those two, providing common tools for data access. The API for Platinum is OLE DB in ADO. So the same tools, the tools that are built into Office as well as the tools that are part of Visual Studio, those can be made to work with data stored in Platinum.
We talked earlier about building workflow systems that cross between those two. Search is the key. It will be possible to do a search that crosses both of those two databases, as well as to do queries against SQL Server that do heterogeneous joins of data that’s stored in Platinum, so it’s relatively straightforward to bring that information together.
And an important point of all of this is providing some commonality with common XML-based categorization or ontologies, vocabularies, because the data will be stored in multiple places. And having a common schema that brings those things together and allows you to build applications that cross those, and that get at data from both places is also key.
Finally, there are some times when having the data in both places makes sense. So we’re building an underlying replication mechanism that replicates data between SQL Server and Exchange Platinum. So that if it is appropriate to have the data in both places, there’s some underlying system services, application services, that make that easy to do.
Okay. So that’s sort of the end of the discussion about this next generation Web Store, and how storage fits in overall with our knowledge management strategy.
What I’d like to do now is talk a little bit about breaking users free of the wires that contain them, the things that make them have to go back to their office to get at their information. And really what we see here is a set of initiatives focused on building next generation devices, small things from cell phones to tablets, to hand-held personal computers, that can be carried with you, and having wireless access associated with that.
Now, the key thing about these devices is that the form factors are very different from what you have with the traditional PC. So targeting information on that screen so that you’re broken free and you can look at it as is appropriate, that’s really an end-to-end solution. So, it’s something Microsoft is working on with its partners, and we’re focused on building that overall end-to-end solution.
So, if you’ve got data that’s in your corporate intranet, in some cases that might be broadcast on a local wireless network that might be part of your corporation. In some cases, it might involve a wide area network that’s provided by a digital cellular provider. So, in that case, there’s a back-end infrastructure with the telco that’s also involved. But getting that data that’s, say, your mail or your schedule or the information, the news information that’s relevant to you, getting that targeted to the screen that’s appropriate on that device is an overall end-to-end solution.
Now, we see wireless as a key part of this, because without wireless, you’ve got that cord dangling behind you, and it’s very, very difficult to get at the information when you’re on the road, or even just down the hall. Now, one of the things Microsoft has made an internal commitment to do is this. Within the next 12 months, we’re going to build a wireless network across our entire campus. There’s been a couple of buildings where we’ve done some trials on this, and the people who are working in those buildings are so excited about what they see that if they move groups, if they transfer groups, one of their key questions is, can I still get my wireless connectivity in this other building. So, within 12 months, the answer to that will be yes, because we will be building this wireless infrastructure within our campus.
But, again, to break the wires completely and have that roaming capability work in a wide area, say, when I’m in Dallas today, that needs to be done in partnership with the telcos and the wireless providers.
Now, another key part of this is changing the way computers interact with people. And, you know, there’s been a lot of fits and starts in this. And we all remember the handwriting demonstrations where you hold your breath hoping that the handwriting is going to get recognized. But we do see a world where there are some key breakthroughs that are coming in this space. In a few minutes I’ll show some breakthrough new technology that we first demonstrated last fall at Comdex called ClearType that dramatically improves reading on a computer screen. You’ve seen natural language beginning to appear within products. You know, Office and Word have had that for some time with natural language technology that provides grammar recognition. One of the next things that will come with Tahoe is the ability to use natural language as a way of doing queries against data, to dramatically improve the results. We find that natural language technology can take a query that would otherwise be buried down in the results, and move it up to be of high relevance.
Handwriting has been tough, but we do see major breakthroughs happening within the next 12 to 18 months that will make handwriting recognition of printed characters a fairly natural event versus today’s more jot-style of having to use special characters. Speech is a tough one, but speech for voice control will work very well. Speech for dictation is somewhat harder. There are a number of products on the market today, but they’re relatively hard to use. Most people aren’t used to dictating, so using these dictation products is relatively tough. Although that’s still very much an end-goal. But in the interim time frame, using speech for command and control is very relevant.
And then, finally putting that together with annotation to make it easy for people to use these new devices to take notes, and have the system categorize those notes, and make them part of the overall corporate knowledge.
So, with that, what I’d like to do is invite Tom Rizzo up to give us a couple of demonstrations of some of this new technology.
Tom, good morning.
MR. RIZZO: Hi, Bob.
Well, the first thing I wanted to show you, and let’s see if I can line this up on the screen so everyone can see it, is the wireless knowledge network, which is a service that corporations can purchase that will allow mobile access to Exchange information.
So, here I have a Qualcomm phone, you can actually see it’s a pretty small phone, if I hold it up here. Well, you can’t see it there, but it’s pretty small. But it has a nice screen on it. And what you’re seeing here is access to my corporate Exchange Server. So, I can see all my information from today. So, I’ll scroll through, and you can see I have some email inside of here. I have my calendar. And what you’ll see is, it will actually scroll because the display can only display 12 characters.
MR. MUGLIA: Now, again, this is targeting information in an appropriate way for the device.
MR. RIZZO: Exactly. Plus, you can get at your corporate contacts that you store in Microsoft Outlook.
So, I’m going to go back to my in-box, and I see there’s a message about the Tech Ed demo. Let’s click okay here to retrieve that message, and it only downloads the headers of your messages. So, now it’s going back through the wireless service and getting the actual message body. And it says, what an awesome demo, I loved it. And from here, I can perform some action on this message.
Now, as you would expect, it came through email. So, I can respond back through email. But the service provides a number of other great capabilities for you, since you’re on a different type of device. So, here’s my reply back through email. Plus, you can see here some phone numbers. What this is, is if the person is in your contacts, the service will automatically pull out the information about their phone number so you can give them a call on your mobile device.
MR. MUGLIA: Which makes sense because you’ve got a voice device here. So, you’ve got an email message from somebody. A reasonable way for you to respond is to give them a call. So, having the phone number be associated with that person’s email address makes it easy.
MR. RIZZO: Now, what I’m going to do is, I’m just going to respond back through email. So, I’m going to hit reply. And now, none of us probably want to type a long message on this keypad, because there’s not that many characters on here. So, what it also allows you to do is to can some responses. So, I can do sounds great, go for it, we should discuss, send me meeting request. Since this actual demo is going pretty well, I’m just going to say, sounds great, go for it. And I can send off this message through the service.
MR. MUGLIA: Now, that’s great. Now, this is really an example of information that’s stored in a corporate network that’s being brought to you in a wide area. I mean, you’re here in Dallas. The Wireless Knowledge is a new network that’s being set up. It’s still in a test mode here, but it will be available by the same time that Platinum goes public next year, certainly, and it takes information, in this case, that’s within a corporation, and broadcasts it across, in this case, the United States. So, wherever you are, you actually have access to that information.
MR. RIZZO: Exactly. And one thing I want to really point out is that this is access to your corporate Exchange Server.
MR. MUGLIA: And you can put rules in there to figure out which ones come to you?
MR. RIZZO: Exactly.
Now, the next thing I want to show you is an example of how Exchange Server provides a great platform for voice-enabled applications. Now, we’re working with a number of partners to provide these capabilities. Here is your in-box in the background there. As I do the voice commands, and do the voice recognition, you’ll see some voice commands come through here. Plus, also, I’m going to go and talk to my in-box here. Check email. Read first. Accept meeting. Reply. Bob, we’re ready for Windows 2000, bring it on. Quit.
MR. RIZZO: Pretty neat technology. What you can see here in your in-box now is that the voice commands that I sent did something to Microsoft Outlook and the Exchange Server. So, if you open up this message, you see that voice message that I sent. And then you can play this back.
MR. MUGLIA: That’s great. This isn’t necessarily Microsoft technology. This is something that can be done by third parties on top of Exchange 5.5 today, and we’re really building Platinum with the Web Store to be an even better server for this sort of integrated messaging solution.
MR. RIZZO: Exactly. We will provide a great infrastructure for this stuff.
MR. MUGLIA: That’s great. Thanks a lot.
MR. RIZZO: Thanks, Bob.
MR. MUGLIA: So, you can see how getting at information in different circumstances requires different approaches. In this case of that voice response unit, that might be something that’s appropriate if you are in a car, and you’re trying to check your voice mail or your calendar, and being able to respond to things and actually scroll through your messages with a voice command makes a lot of sense in that circumstance.
What I’d like to do now is talk a little bit about some new devices that are coming, and some great new technology that will really revolutionize the way we begin to use those new devices.
So, the first thing I’d like to show is a demonstration of ClearType. Last November, we announced this technology at Comdex. ClearType is a way of working with LCD screens, digital LCD screens, to dramatically improve the resolution.
Now, when you pick up a piece of paper, any piece of paper is going to have resolution, at least, of 300 dots per inch, and sometimes quite a bit more. But a typical LCD screen only has resolution of about 90 to 100 dots per inch. That’s a good, high quality LCD screen, like on this little Sony computer here.
Now, what we’ve done with Clear Type is used the capabilities of a digital LCD device, where inside that LCD there are, for each color, for each pixel, there are actually three sub-color pixels. And what Clear
Type does is allows those sub-color pixels to be addressed individually, effectively tripling the resolution of an LCD screen to right around 300 dots per inch, or what a relatively inexpensive laser printer can produce.
Now, the impact that this has is pretty dramatic. It’s hard to see it. We’ve done our best with this camera to try and show it on the big screens. It’s hard to see it there. But on a screen like this, it’s very, very noticeable and very obvious the difference in quality between those two. Our research has done some work on understanding how people read, and thinking about the whole experience of immersive reading, and one of the things we find is that when you read on a computer screen, it’s hard enough so that it’s really difficult for you to get into the content. It’s like your mind is spending so much time processing the information, and trying to figure out what it’s reading, that you can’t fully devote your attention to the underlying content.
And when you get up to about 300 dots per inch, which is what Clear Type does on today’s technology of LCD screens, you can really do immersive reading. And so, it’s a pretty big breakthrough. It’s being able to have computers used for good quality reading experiences is a pretty big step forward in the overall use of these digital devices.
What I’d like to do is now talk a little bit about how those devices can come to life. And what we have, what we’re going to show next, is a little palm-sized PC. This is one of the color palm-sized PCs. This one is from Hewlett-Packard, it’s the HP Grenada. And, again, we have ClearType running on it. It’s pretty hard to see that on the display.
But here, what we see is, on this size device, and perhaps devices slightly larger, using Clear Type, you can get your schedule and other appointment style information, email, with smaller font sizes, and thus get more information there, and make it more readable overall. But the other thing that’s interesting is to be able to take and begin working with publishers to produce electronic books.
So, we’ve had a number of initiatives going on with publishers literally around the world, to begin delivering information to devices of this size and perhaps some slightly larger, that are really just portable books that can have modern titles, modern literature, and other information, magazines, things like that, delivered to people in a way that they can carry around with them all the time.
Now, one interesting characteristic of that is the next device here, which is an early prototype of a tablet PC. Now, this sort of device, I mean, it’s pretty interesting, it’s a thin device, let me show you the basics, it’s got a really nice form factor. It’s relatively light. It’s easy to carry this around. And you’d be able to make notes on it, or to be able to highlight things. And this is a very interesting form factor. Perhaps devices of this size, or maybe even one slightly smaller. It’s about two pounds, and it’s even possible to have devices like this, of this sort of size, run full Windows and have Windows applications running on them.
But this sort of thing, when you have a device with that sort of characteristic, particularly if you combine it with wireless, you get some really interesting scenarios.
With that, what I’d like to do is show a new HPC called a Clio from Vadim, that it’s kind of interesting, it’s got a keyboard, but then it also has a separate screen. And one of the interesting things about this is that it’s
— we have a wireless modem installed here, and it’s really fully possible to have this hooked up, and you can have all the same information that you have on your normal PC be present on this.
So, in this case, what I have actually is my Digital Dashboard, the one that I showed you earlier, if you can see it there, up and running, and it’s actually fully live. So, for example, I can go ahead and change this to a pivot table, go in there, and do that district, to California, and do that query.
Now, how is that possible on a device like this? This device weighs about a pound-and-a-half. And what’s made it possible is that there’s a wireless modem built into this, and it’s hooked up to a campus area or a corporate area wireless network. And what we’re doing is, it’s actually running Windows Terminal software. And so, what’s behind that is a Windows Terminal that has really my full set of applications available to me, but with a device like this, and that combination of wireless capability, it becomes possible to carry my Digital Dashboard with you anywhere.
So, this is an example of some of the new devices that will be coming in the next couple of years. And, again, it’s really this combination of breakthroughs in screen technology together with things like wireless networks and targeting of information that’s appropriate for devices that makes that information come to you.
Okay. So what we’ve shown today is an overall architecture for knowledge management solutions for business applications that you are creating. And, you know, underneath this, as I said, are two stores, a relational store and a Web Store. And having those things underneath, that is the foundational capability upon which these applications can be built.
Now, on top of that, Microsoft is providing a set of services that bring together this information, capture search and deliver, collaborative services, content management services, tracking and workflow as well as business intelligence, all of those are part of an overall knowledge management solution.
From an end-user perspective, there’s the browser, and there are the tools to create information, Office 2000, those are the desktop pieces. And, again, targeting this information for devices of all types. But all of those things are built on a set of underlying platform services, directory, security, management services, and that infrastructure makes this possible.
And what it’s all about, the thing that we’re enabling and allowing you to build, are these customized business solutions that are really, again, focused on eliminating the limits for your knowledge workers.
Now, there’s a couple of tracks today that I think are of interest for you. First of all, at 10:45, in Hall B-2, there’s an Exchange Platinum talk where Gord Mangione will go into a lot of detail behind the Web Store in the next release of Exchange Platinum. Now, Gord did a talk earlier in the week, but he’s going to go into a lot more technical detail now that the Web Store is fully announced. So, I highly encourage you to go to that talk right after this one at 10:45.
We are also running, for the whole day, a set of knowledge management solutions tracks that will help explain ways to build great solutions targeted at the knowledge worker.
So, to summarize, all of the things that we talked about today are built on and focused on the end-user, or the knowledge worker experience. And, by and large, for the vast majority of knowledge workers, the tools that they interact with are based on Office, and will shortly be moving to Office 2000 over the coming months. It’s the place where people spend their time, and it’s the place where you can create integrated solutions.
The key here is the fact that we focused on building a common set of tools across Office 2000 to make it easier for you to build applications. Now, the goal is to make it easy for you to build integrated solutions for knowledge workers, and SQL is certainly a key part of that, and remains so into the future. But what we’ve done is, we’ve made access to collaborative and Web data much, much more straightforward, made it much, much easier to build applications that are built on top of exchange with this introduction of the Web Store. And it brings together these solutions, and it allows you to create answers for your end users that were never really possible before.
Finally, all of that is brought together and can be expressed with a whole new set of devices for you to begin thinking about. These are things that will roll out over the next two to three years. They’re not necessarily ready yet, but they’re coming, and they’re going to be very important. The key to all of this is, again, to make it easy for you to build great solutions for knowledge workers. We can put the foundation in place, and Microsoft is very committed to doing that. But to make it happen, it requires the answers, and our partners, developers, everyone in this room, are really the people that will make it happen.
Thank you very much.
(Applause and end of event.)