PHOENIX, Ariz., Feb. 11, 2002 — You’re in a meeting away from the office and need to quickly pass along to coworkers a product design you’ve just sketched. What if you could use digital ink — text written with a pen-like stylus on the screen of a computing device the size of a pad of paper — to e-mail the hand-drawn figure and include notes on how to proceed?
Or youre racing through the airport, youve missed your flight, and you want to check the Internet for the next available flight. Your hands are full and there’s no place to open your laptop. What if you could search the Web to check flight availability by speaking your destination and preferred take-off time into your cell phone, wireless personal digital assistant (PDA) or laptop?
Or youre bidding on a new home, and you need to quickly communicate with your financial advisor to determine your down-payment possibilities. What if your advisor was able to send instant updates on the current value of your portfolio via the Internet, allowing you to calculate a winning bid on your dream home?
Today at DEMO 2002 ., Microsoft demonstrates three new technologies — the Tablet PC, Web-based speech applications and MSN Money Professional — designed to make each of these scenarios a reality.
“The .NET platform is creating unprecedented opportunities to experience the Web,” says Bill Gates, Microsoft chairman and chief software architect. “The Tablet PC is a smart .NET client that combines all the functionality of your laptop with advanced technologies such as pen computing. Microsoft .NET speech technologies will make it easier and more natural to access your data, applications and Web services on your computer. And services such as MSN Money Professional will transform how investment advisors help manage your finances.”
DEMO Targets Top Products
The annual DEMO conference spotlights emerging technologies and new products selected by executive producers Chris Shipley and Jim Forbes from across the personal technology marketplace. Top executives from leading hardware and software technology companies, venture capitalists, journalists and industry analysts attend the conference to preview the most promising products and technologies for the coming year. Microsoft is among about 70 companies demonstrating at this years event.
“We are excited to demonstrate three products that underscore Microsoft’s continued leadership in technology innovation,
The Tablet PC is the most mobile PC ever made, and we’re pleased to be the venue for the announcement of its newest software partner, WebEx. We are also enthusiastic about Microsoft’s groundbreaking speech and finance technology solutions that will bring tremendous value to consumers, developers, businesses and service providers.”
The Tablet PC is the next-generation mobile business PC. Weighing as little as 2.5 pounds (1.1 kilograms) — about half the weight of today’s typical laptop — Tablet PCs will allow users to enter information by writing on the screen with a pen-like stylus or by speaking into the device. Users will also have the option of typing.
The Tablet PC runs Microsoft Windows XP Tablet PC Edition and features the capabilities of current business laptops, including attached or detachable keyboards and the ability to run todays Windows-based applications. It also offers long battery life, allowing knowledge workers to use their PC more often and in new ways.
The Tablet PCs handwriting capabilities will allow users to easily and quietly take digital notes during meetings or other occasions when a paper and pen are traditionally used. All digital ink is stored for later use. It also is fully searchable, can be added to other documents or programs and can be converted to text.
WebEx Communications recently announced it will support the Tablet PC and has made a commitment to work closely with Microsoft to build this support into the WebEx communications network. WebEx offers an online meeting service that enables users to spontaneously share presentations, documents and applications with anyone over the Web. The inking capabilities in the Tablet PC, which allow use of a stylus pen to mark up documents; store; search and repurpose their edits, can extend the interactivity of WebEx meetings.
The Tablet PC will be available from leading computer makers in the second half of 2002.
.NET Speech Technologies
Speech is widely regarded in the industry as the most promising next-generation natural user interface. Speech-recognition technology provides users an expressive and convenient way to use applications, information and services. With the growing proliferation of mobile devices and Web services, Microsoft expects speech to complement the traditional graphical user interface found on desktop PCs as a natural way to enter or send data. This more natural, human interface will in turn accelerate the development of a wide range of new opportunities for businesses, and offer consumers — even those without access to a PC — convenient access to online goods and services.
To make a speech-enabled Web a reality, Microsoft is developing a portfolio of speech technologies based on the proposed Speech Application Language Tags (SALT) specification, which will support the deployment of speech-enabled Web applications and services. A speech software development kit (SDK) currently under development will enable mainstream Web developers to quickly and easily add speech to Web applications for telephony and multi-modal interaction. It will include SALT extensions for Visual Studio. NET, Microsofts new suite of development tools being launched this week; ASP.NET; and grammar- and prompt-editing tools.
Microsoft is also building the industrys only unified telephony and multimodal speech platform, which will allow businesses to broaden the reach of their Web services. Extensions for the SALT-based voice interpreter will become available for users of Internet Explorer and Pocket Internet Explorer to allow these browser technologies to support both speech and visual input and output.
The SALT specification is being developed and supported by the SALT Forum, a diverse group of speech and technology leaders, including Microsoft, Cisco Systems, Comverse, Intel, Philips and SpeechWorks. The only unified standard for telephony and multimodal applications, SALT is an open, platform-independent and royalty-free standard that extends existing Web standards, such as HTML, XHTML, and XML, and is based on common Web programming languages and development paradigms.
Applications written with SALT extensions will allow the exchange of spoken content and commands via telephones and multimodal devices such as PCs, cell phones with graphical user interfaces, and emerging new devices such as the Tablet PC. “SALT is the key for making speech a mainstream way of interacting over the Web,” says X.D. Huang, manager of .NET Speech.
MSN Money Professional
MSN Money Professional combines Microsoft Passport, the industry’s leading authenitication service, and .NET Alerts Service with secure document publishing, portfolio reporting and content from the award-winning MSN Money Web site. The new service offers publishing and notification tools to improve collaboration between financial advisors and clients, enabling advisors to easily and securely provide clients with customized finance portals that include breaking news, portfolio updates, relevant reports and stock quotes.
At DEMO 2002 today, software developer Advent Software announced that several wealth-management firms will employ its WealthLine service, which is built upon MSN Money Professional. Avalon Advisors LP; Plante & Moran, LLP; Security Trust Company; and SYM Financial Corporation will join the WealthLine Advisory Council to test the service and help finalize the features before the live version launches later this year.