Gates Opens Seventh Annual Microsoft CEO Summit

REDMOND, Wash., May 21, 2003 — Microsoft Corp. Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates today welcomed more than 100 business leaders from around the world to the seventh annual Microsoft CEO Summit. Gates opened the event with a keynote address that set the stage for two days of dialogue and interactive sessions centered on the theme “The Agile Business: Balancing Strategy and Execution.”

“Today’s CEOs recognize the challenge of achieving growth and profitability in the midst of continuing economic uncertainty,” Gates said. “This year’s summit focuses on the issues we are all facing, and the technology and other tools that can help organizations balance the demands of long-term strategy with successful short-term execution.”

In his keynote, Gates focused on the role of information technology in delivering business value and providing competitive advantage in today’s economic climate. He offered his views on the current debate around the value of information technology (IT) as compared to the “utility” model of computing, which presumes IT can no longer help a company differentiate itself or offer competitive advantage. Gates explained how businesses today can recognize significant and increasing value from their investments in IT — investments that break down barriers to information flow and ultimately help organizations realize new potential for growth and differentiation.

Gates discussed the waves of technology innovation — from the early days of the PC through the Internet to Web services today — and how each has delivered new business benefits. Speaking of the need to embrace IT in modern organizations, Gates noted that software is the critical element, bringing together people, processes, relationships and information. To illustrate his point, he demonstrated how communication and collaboration tools used by Microsoft help the company achieve new levels of productivity and cost savings. As further evidence of the strategic value of IT and the potential of the latest wave of developments, Gates cited several internal Microsoft®
projects, including a system that links the company’s customer systems using XML Web services and an effort to broadly roll out Tablet PCs to the company’s information workers.

Attendees of the summit, like those at last year’s event, were given the opportunity to experience a key productivity tool of the future firsthand. Each CEO was given a new NEC Versa LitePad Tablet PC for use during the conference and beyond. The Tablet PCs were loaded with custom software that enabled the CEOs to access conference information and collaborate with each other during the event.

“Some may question the value of IT right now, but at Microsoft we believe we are in the early years of what I call the Digital Decade — a time that will transform the way we all work and communicate,” Gates said. “Despite the economic climate, the opportunity for innovation remains great. Now, more than ever, we need to realize the amazing potential and business value created by smart technology investments.”

An annual event since 1997, the Microsoft CEO Summit is an interactive forum for exploring the challenges and opportunities that companies face from business and technology perspectives. Attendees discuss recent technological and business innovations to gain a more in-depth understanding of current top-of-mind business concerns. The CEO Summit also provides a venue in which business leaders can share the expertise and insight of their peers.

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and Internet technologies for personal and business computing. The company offers a wide range of products and services designed to empower people through great software — any time, any place and on any device.

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