NEW ORLEANS, May 5, 2003 — Microsoft is continuously looking for ways to create better, more innovative and intuitive products for customers. A crucial component to delivering better, more compelling user scenarios is through stronger industry alignment —specifically, with Windows hardware engineers and driver developers.
Tom Phillips, general manager of the Microsoft Windows Hardware Experience Group. Click on the image for a high resolution photo
Tom Phillips , general manager of Windows Hardware Experience Group, is spearheading Microsoft’s effort to better coordinate hardware and software development to deliver next-generation PCs that provide more immersive, interactive experiences. As part of this effort, Phillips has overseen the development and launch of the new Windows Hardware and Driver Central (WHDC), a centralized community resource for the Windows hardware and driver developer. The goal is to provide engineers and developers with the technical information they need to build innovative hardware solutions and high quality drivers for the Windows platform. To further demonstrate its commitment to the hardware and driver developer community, Microsoft is also delivering a broad range of community events, including the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHEC) 2003 and the first annual Driver Developer Conference, scheduled for November 2003.
On the eve of WinHEC 2003, which runs May 6 – 8 in New Orleans, PressPass spoke with Phillips about Microsoft’s efforts to make it easier for members of the hardware- and driver-developer community to deliver richer customer scenarios.
PressPass: Please talk a bit about Microsoft’s relationship with industry partners who develop Windows hardware and driver software, and why you think it is an important relationship to nurture?
Phillips: In order to continue to provide rich, innovative experiences for the end user, it’s important that the industry work together as a whole. By ensuring a resource-rich community, there is no longer the excuse for software and hardware development to take place in isolation. The result is more integrated, compelling user-centric scenarios. Furthermore, by working together to better synchronize hardware and software development cycles we deliver, to borrow an old saying, a solution whose whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
PressPass: Let’s discuss those results. For what purposes do you see hardware and software coming together, and what will that mean for the PC experiences of end users?
Phillips: When PCs are developed from a system design approach, you are able to deliver more innovative products that address the unique needs, desires and aspirations of users. It also allows for consistent experiences that make it easier for customers to use a product, something you will see in the Xeel demonstration at WinHEC 2003. A good way to think about it is like a car. There’s a gas pedal and a brake in a car, and they are always in the same place. Compare this to a basic PC user scenario, such as the volume control of a PC. There are presently multiple means to control the volume, whether it is the volume knobs on your speakers, your keyboard or the control panel. If we as an industry work together to create a consistent volume control, the user will feel more in control and have a better experience.
Another area would be around user productivity. Let’s take the example of people who use multiple monitors. They may have two or three on their desks, but they’re not really able to maximize their experience. If the hardware and software were more tightly integrated, you could work on a PowerPoint presentation with Slide Three displayed on one monitor and Slide Four on another. Or, if you were working in a spreadsheet, Excel could detect the use of two monitors, understand the larger screen real estate and automatically adjust the width of the spreadsheet columns to take advantage of two screens. These types of user scenarios are what we mean by applications and hardware working better together.
Lastly, let’s look at new user scenarios. In this case, let’s look at PC and telephone integration. Say I’m an information worker at the office and you call. The PC could recognize your call. Rather than rifle through my papers, notes and e-mails, Outlook automatically retrieves all of my notes, talking points, our call agenda and maybe some information on you, like your biography.
There are many more experiences we haven’t even thought of yet. You can easily see that the possibilities that hardware and software synergy offer are nearly limitless. Thus innovation and quality are two of our key focuses with this community.
PressPass: What is Microsoft doing to help bring about this synergy?
Phillips: We are taking a multi-pronged approach toward fostering greater innovation and quality, both in hardware engineering and device driver development. For starters, we have launched the Microsoft Windows Hardware and Driver Central (WHDC) program. WHDC serves as both a Web portal and community for Windows hardware and driver developers. It provides a communication foundation upon which we are able to easily connect all of the community resources aimed at this audience, from industry events like WinHEC to the latest test kits or whitepapers. It provides the hardware- and driver-developer community with a single source for Windows platform technical content. And we have focused extensively on making information easier to find, search, and target, based on where in the development process an individual might be. In fact, WHDC is the result of extensive interviews and research we conducted with the hardware engineer and driver developer community worldwide. We want to ensure that our actions underscore the critical role hardware and driver developers play in delivering richer customer scenarios.
PressPass: How is this portal different from the information Microsoft currently provides for this group?
Phillips: As well as providing new tools, content and infrastructure, the portal combines information that was previously contained on six different Microsoft sites: Windows Platform Development (http://www.microsoft.com/hwdev), Driver Development Kits (http://www.microsoft.com/ddk), Windows Hardware Quality Labs (http://www.microsoft.com/hwtest), Designed for Windows Logo Program (http://www.microsoft.com/winlogo), Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (http://www.microsoft.com/winhec) and Hardware Driver Quality (http://www.microsoft.com/hcl). The new portal mirrors the flow in which development is approached: design, develop, qualify, test and sustain. By aggregating all this information in one place and making it easy to navigate, we want to make it easier for hardware and driver developer community to develop great, high quality products that deliver on the needs of Windows customers.
We’re also providing much more content that is specifically tailored to the needs of Windows hardware engineers and driver developers. For instance, people will be able to go online and talk directly to Microsoft developers through one of our Ask the Experts Online chats, browse transcripts of past technical talks, subscribe to a newsletter, browse the white-paper library, find a training class, or get a question answered. We’ve combined information of news, events and training. The search function also has been improved, and developers can more easily obtain information on relevant topics, such as how to qualify for the
“Designed for Windows”
Our ultimate goal is that WHDC becomes a true development resource so that hardware and driver developers are able to use it like a road map, seeking and finding information necessary to do their jobs better and deliver more compelling, innovative products to market. WHDC aims to deliver tangible tools and information that aid the community in developing more innovative and collaborative solutions.
PressPass: What else is Microsoft doing to demonstrate its commitment to this community?
Phillips: WHDC is just part of the story. We continue to invest in WinHEC, which is now in its 12th year. In fact, this year alone we expanded the content offerings in several areas, including a 50 percent increase in technical content over last year. We are extending new offerings such as a Windows Driver Developer Conference. The first annual conference will be held in November 2003 on the Microsoft campus in Redmond, Washington. Registration and agenda details will go live shortly. It will provide participants with deep, hands-on experience and in-depth technical information designed to further enhance the driver development skill set and knowledge around developing to Windows XP, Windows Server 2003, and Windows 2000, as well as the next generation of Windows. We are also working on streamlining the tools we provide to the community. For example, the new Longhorn Development Kit (LDK) combines what were previously two separate kits and processes — providing more of an end-to-end view for the developer.
We are also looking internally to ensure we are in a position to make this commitment to the driver and hardware community. Earlier this year, we formed the 900-employee Extended Platforms Division, which is tasked with working with the industry to build prototypes of new kinds of computers and consumer devices, and working with hardware makers to bring futuristic designs to the marketplace. It’s run by Rick Thompson, Corporate VP of Extended Platforms Group.
PressPass: What do you hope comes from these efforts?
Phillips: Before we catch the next wave of PC innovation, we must first learn to surf as an industry, so to speak. It is our hope that together with the industry we can deliver on the challenge of true system development and deliver what our customers desire – compelling, innovative experiences that improve the way they live, work and are entertained. And as a result, people will get more value out of their PCs.