Gates Details Seamless Computing Vision for Developers, Unveils New Technologies to Foster Industry Innovation

SAN FRANCISCO, March 24, 2004 — In his keynote address at the co-located Microsoft Mobile Developer Conference (DevCon) 2004, Fawcette Technical Publication’s VSLive! San Francisco 2004 and AVIOS~SpeechTEK Spring 2004, Microsoft Corp. Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates expanded on the company’s vision for Seamless Computing for developers, discussing a wave of technologies that empower developers to build connected, information-driven applications, and rich interfaces and experiences. Specifically, Gates unveiled Microsoft Speech Server 2004, Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition software, continuing momentum for MapPoint Location Server, and the Visual Studio 2005 Community Technology Preview program. Together, these announcements demonstrate how Microsoft is helping developers use familiar development tools and skills to create breakthrough experiences that incorporate smart devices and speech recognition.

“The developer community is the catalyst that takes Seamless Computing from vision to reality,” Gates said. “Microsoft remains committed to enabling software developers to create the applications and services that will shape the future of computing.”

In addition, Gates highlighted broad industry successes since the launch of Visual Studio .NET two years ago and of the Microsoft .NET Compact Framework one year ago, as well as the new opportunities Seamless Computing will enable for developers in the areas of Web services, location-based scenarios, mobile platforms and natural user interfaces.

Speech Server: Expanding Into New Areas, Creating More Opportunity

Gates expanded his discussion on new market opportunities to address natural user interfaces; he articulated Microsoft’s long-standing vision for speech technology as required to achieve the vision of Seamless Computing. In a demonstration of that progress, Gates officially launched Microsoft Speech Server 2004. Speech Server 2004 is a flexible, integrated speech product that dramatically reduces the complexity and cost of developing and deploying speech applications by integrating speech development into Visual Studio .NET. Microsoft Speech Server 2004 overcomes barriers to speech adoption by making speech technology less expensive and more widely available, and delivering significant business value to industry partners and enterprise customers.

“Speech Server will fuel enterprise adoption of speech technology by empowering developers to use familiar development tools like Visual Studio and existing skills to quickly and easily build speech-enabled, Web-based applications,” said Eric Rudder, senior vice president of the server and tools business at Microsoft.

Microsoft is the first company to offer a single product that combines Web technologies, speech-processing services and telephony capabilities. Speech Server 2004 enables companies to unify their Web and telephony infrastructure and to speech-enable existing or new ASP.NET Web applications. These applications can be accessed from the existing 2.2 billion worldwide installed base of telephones and mobile phones, and also Windows Mobile-based Pocket PCs and Smartphones, for mixed speech and visual interactions.

Visual Studio and the .NET Framework: Building on Community Strengths and Customer Feedback for the Road Ahead

Gates also announced the Community Technology Previews for Visual Studio 2005 (formerly code-named “Whidbey”). Community Technology Previews give Visual Studio customers access to “interim builds” of Visual Studio prerelease versions of the product that fall between the major beta releases. The Community Technology Preview program enables customers to see more of Visual Studio 2005 as it is being developed and to give more feedback into the product prior to release, helping improve the quality of the product as it evolves.

Gates emphasized the current strength and value of the Visual Studio .NET and .NET Framework ecosystem for customers and partners, highlighting the distribution of more than 80 million copies of the .NET Framework, the 2.5 million developers currently using Visual Studio .NET, the more than 180 Visual Studio Industry Partners and the fact that more than 60 percent of Fortune 100 companies are run on the .NET Framework.

Mobile Innovation and New Opportunities: Windows Mobile, MapPoint

Rallying developers to apply their existing skills to mobile development, Gates pointed out that the mobile industry is at an inflection point, with rich software and technology meeting exciting hardware innovation and new market opportunities. Gates showcased the new Motorola MPx, a Pocket PC featuring Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition software. Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition extends the Windows Mobile 2003 software platform to include the features and functionality that truly encourage device and application innovation, such as support for square-screen resolution and dynamic screen switching between landscape and portrait modes, in addition to Video Graphics Array (VGA) and Quarter Video Graphics Array (QVGA) to support high-resolution displays. Gates stressed that already there is an addressable mobile marketplace and that developers should begin investing in this new area, with an eye to future opportunity. A future-looking demonstration illustrated this opportunity and where Microsoft’s mobile developer strategy and investments are headed an end-to-end solution for mobile developers that spans application development, testing and market distribution to end users, utilizing the Visual Studio productive integrated development environment.

Gates also noted that the launch of the MapPoint Location Server (MLS) earlier in the week presents an immediate opportunity for developers to build rich location-based services into the mobile experiences they are creating. MLS enables corporate developers and independent software vendors (ISVs) to easily incorporate real-time location into a wide range of applications including fleet management, asset tracking, dispatch and mobile customer relationship management, through the combination of real-time location data from mobile operators with mapping capabilities from the Microsoft MapPoint Web Service. Strong support from Sprint and Bell Canada, which announced plans to be first in their markets to offer new MLS-based location services to businesses and consumers, makes it possible for developers to begin offering solutions immediately. Underscoring the opportunities for developers and ISVs, Action Engine, Immedient and Cubistix are actively developing new real-time location applications with MapPoint Location Server.

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