LAS VEGAS, Nov. 13, 2000 The path forward for computing will involve software applications interacting with each other to gather rich information from many different sources and present a consolidated view to the user, Microsoft Chief Software Architect Bill Gates told a capacity crowd of more than 12,000 attendees last night as he kicked off the COMDEX/Fall 2000 Conference with a keynote speech at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
Bill Gates, Chairman and Chief Software Architect of Microsoft, holds a new generation cell phone during his annual “state of the industry” speech at COMDEX/Fall 2000.
Gates outlined a vision for the next generation of the Internet, in which Web Services built around Extensible Markup Language (XML) and other standard technologies on the Microsoft .NET Platform will enable cross-communication among servers, PCs and a growing collection of personal devices.
“Getting there is going to require an architectural approach that’s different from what we have today,”
“It can’t just be a terminal model for the client, and it can’t just be a file-sharing model for the server — it has to be a model where rich information can be expressed and exchanged in both ways.”
XML and related standards are crucial to providing the higher level of collaboration among information sources — both on the Internet and among different applications — that will fulfill the software-to-software model, he said.
“That’s the idea behind Web Services — the user doesn’t even have to know that the server is going out and finding updates from multiple sources on the Web.”
For example, Gates spoke of Web Services reaching out to servers to retrieve a user’s medical information, which could then be presented in an aggregated view on the same Web page where the user started.
During the keynote, several Microsoft representatives joined Gates onstage to describe breakthroughs in software that will make the Internet even more powerful, flexible and agile for users. They demonstrated new development tools such as VisualStudio.NET and the .NET Framework which Microsoft made available in beta 1, or pre-release, on Sunday that will enable developers to start building Web services on the Microsoft .NET Platform. Gates and his colleagues also previewed new features in the next version of Microsoft Office and showed the audience a new prototype Tablet PC, which combines the capabilities of a fully functional personal computer with the simplicity of using pen and paper.
Highlights of the keynote included the following:
Visual Studio.NET and .NET Framework Beta 1. Available first to more than 200,000 Microsoft Software Developer Network (MSDN) Universal subscribers, these two technologies provide the tools for developers to start building Web services for the .NET Platform. Also, Microsoft has joined with industry partners Hewlett-Packard Corp. and Intel Corp. to formally submit the new C# object-oriented programming language and the Common Language Infrastructure (CLI) a key subset of the .NET Framework to the European Computer Manufacturers Association (ECMA) for standardization.
Dave Mendlen, a lead product manager at Microsoft, demonstrated how developers can use Visual Studio.NET tools to easily expose their applications as Web services. He also showed how Dollar Rent-A-Car and travel services company Galileo International are using Web Services on their Internet sites to automatically and transparently generate complete itineraries — from flight schedules and car rentals to lodging and conference facilities –for their customers.
“I, as the customer, am happy because I didn’t have to travel out to a bunch of sites for this information, and the service companies are happy because they’re building customer loyalty at their Web site,”
“Visual Studio.NET and the .NET Framework enable developers to go beyond content aggregation and create solutions that, in turn, let their customers go beyond browsing to achieve a fundamentally more valuable experience.”
Smart Tags, Speech Recognition in Microsoft Office 10. Innovations in the new version of the Microsoft Office suite, code-named
“significantly improve how people get their jobs done and how they work with others,”
said Tom Bailey, another Microsoft lead product manager. Bailey demonstrated new features such as Task Panes, which present collections of features like text formatting and editing to the user in ways that are much easier for users to implement. Similarly, Smart Tags appear on the screen while users work and allow them to automatically link to related data on corporate intranet sites as well as the Internet. Smart Tags also enable Office applications to recognize information in a document — such as a person’s name — and allow the user to send that person an email or instant message through MSN Messenger.
Smart Tags are built with an architecture that allows other developers to create specialized versions of the tags for a particular group of users or an entire industry. West Group, a leading provider of online information and services to the U.S. legal market, has created customized Smart Tags that allow users to easily locate case histories, legal definitions and other resources directly from an Office document.
“Smart Tags fit right in with the way that people work and let them get tasks done more quickly,”
Tablet PC. Microsoft Software Architect Bert Keely gave Comdex attendees the first public glimpse of a prototype Tablet PC — weighing less than three pounds and small enough to fit in one hand — which possesses the full power to run all existing Windows-based software applications while at the same time incorporating the convenience and mobility of using pen and paper. Keely showed how the Tablet PC, which works with a pen-like stylus, not only transfers handwriting into electronic images but also recognizes handwritten revisions made in Office documents. Users can write on the Tablet PC screen as if it were a sheet of notebook paper and easily add comments to email, presentations or other documents. The written notes are captured as digital ink, so they can be sent along with the documents and stored or sorted without the need to re-enter data via a keyboard.
The audience applauded at the sight of Keely moving blocks of text within a document, adding handwritten edits to a sentence and highlighting sections in yellow merely by scrawling the stylus across the flat screen.
“This device is optimized for people who spend at least part of their day away from their desk — and isn’t that just about all of us?”
“With the Tablet PC, you can have all the benefits of handwritten ink in all of your documents.”
Partnership with Polo.com. David Lauren, chief creative officer of Ralph Lauren Media, joined Gates onstage to demonstrate Polo.com, the first-ever e-commerce Web site launched by a fashion designer. Lauren demonstrated how the site — which runs on Microsoft Windows 2000 and SQL servers — brings online shoppers comprehensive access to clothing, accessories, fragrances, customer service and other offerings. He noted that Windows 2000’s scalability and other features enabled Polo.com to launch after only seven months.
“What we’ve tried to do online is to translate the brand and take Polo into the next generation, literally, by making it interactive,”
Lauren said. Through features such as chat forums, profiles of leading fashion designers and virtual tours of locations where Ralph Lauren clothing ads are created, the company hopes to show customers
“a face and a personality behind the brand.”
Gates concluded by noting that emerging tools such as Visual Studio.NET and next-generation devices such as the Tablet PC
“show the industry at its finest”
because they have required strong cooperation among technology providers as well as a willingness to adapt applications to users’ changing expectations. He added that Microsoft is adding other innovations such as speech recognition throughout its products and moving ahead with the .NET vision of providing software updates automatically over the Internet.
“I’m thrilled that the industry is coming together to make this new model of software-to-software interaction happen,”
“and I’m sure we’re all looking forward to seeing how it all turns out.”