Remarks by Bill Gates, Chairman, Microsoft Corporation
SharePoint Conference 2008
March 3, 2008
BILL GATES: Thank you. Good morning, and welcome to Seattle. It’s fantastic to have you here.
SharePoint is a product that’s based on a vision of letting workers share information in a better way, and making sure that it’s done in a very broad fashion, creating a product that you can assume everyone in a company has access to, and creating templates that everybody is familiar with and they just use as a matter of course to get their job done. To me, it’s the next evolution in the vision that we’ve started with Microsoft Office. And we’re constantly getting more ambitious in what we do with software. We’re constantly able to say that people can do their jobs far more effectively because of the empowerment of software. Why is it that we can be so ambitious? Well, part of it goes back to the element that allowed Microsoft to be founded in the first place, and that was seeing that the hardware industry would deliver phenomenal power, phenomenal capabilities at lower and lower cost. And that literally the nature of computing would change from something where computing was just about the center of the organization to something where it was also about the individual, and every demarcation in-between, small teams working together, departments working together, all of those things could be served by software. At your jobs, you can be informed better, you can make decisions more quickly, you can collaborate in different ways.
Now these improvements come partly because of the miracle at the chip level going all the way down to the Moore’s Law, which talks about a doubling in transistors every two years. That’s a wave that we’ve really ridden to allow ourselves to be more ambitious. Fortunately, it’s something that will continue out into the future. So we can think even more ambitiously about data mining. We can think more ambitiously about rich ways of managing the information.
It’s not just the chip level, though, it’s also the storage and the networks, and the hardware designs themselves. In terms of storage, today the idea of taking meetings that you have in the company and digitally recording them and being able to index them, build a transcript, let people come up and access those on a regular basis, the cost of doing that is very, very low. The storage cost really doesn’t even enter into the equation. Just 10 years ago, it would have been ridiculous to talk about that. The bandwidth and the disk sizes simply weren’t there. And so now it’s becoming commonsense when we think about, say, a training scenario that a company can split what used to all have to be offsite special activity, now you can take part of it, have them watch videos, and pass little quizzes in advance, and then only take the part that really needs for people to be there face to face and working as a group have that be the part that you invest the offsite hours in.
So scenario-by-scenario these technology trends really are what enable us to take on more capabilities. The network itself, the bandwidth of optic fiber has that same exponential improvement capability that the speed of the microprocessor has, so we’re combining storage, network, and computing all growing at this fantastic rate. And once you put all that together, you can say, okay, we’re a company in many locations, we’re a company with many partners. Historically the kind of software empowerment you could do was really limited to people in one site. Today, geography is not something that holds you back, no matter how comprehensive the information is, having access through the Internet to those people is very straightforward. Setting up the right security capabilities, the right caching capabilities, those things have come as these scenarios have matured.
The devices themselves will continue to change. Obviously, the evolutionary improvement, where we get higher resolution screens, better battery life, but also now the introduction of the mobile phone as one of the devices that you want to be able to connect up and see the latest information from. That’s another big trend with SharePoint is making sure that writing the kind of forms and list display environments that you want in a mobile phone that that is very, very straightforward.
It’s really as these things come together and we think in a user-centric way that all the information that matters to you that we can see where this is headed. Historically, software and applications were unique to a particular device, to a particular PC, or had to run on a particular server. Now we see the software being far more abstract, and the idea that as you move between multiple PCs or move to the phone, the information that you care about is accessible, that becomes straightforward. Even in the IT department itself, the idea that we’ll have a layer of software management that will mean that applications can find the hardware resources and storage resources without a lot of manual intervention, that’s becoming a very important idea.
I think one of the trends that probably is the most underestimated is the move toward natural user interface. I suppose that’s fair because it’s really just at the beginning, and it’s been talked about for quite a while, and that is moving away from just interacting with the keyboard and the mouse to being able to use a variety of new approaches, touch, the pen, speech, video recognition, all of those together comprise natural user interface. We’re seeing it in some small ways. We’re seeing touch screens on PCs, we’re seeing it on phones, we’re seeing some voice interaction off of the phone as well. We’re seeing the tablet computer used very heavily in a number of verticals, but now moving to be more horizontal in terms of meetings, and students, anyone who has note taking, or information recording requirements, that type of pen interface is starting to really catch on. I think that’s something that will be very, very dramatic. It’s important for things like conferencing where you see products like Roundtable, but it’s important for how you interact with all of this information. In the extreme, as we take our ideas in things like Microsoft Surface, and literally build them into the meeting table, build them into the whiteboard, the way you interact and use software will be very, very different. But the underpinning, the structured information, the things we’ll talk about here at this conference, all of them benefit as those new interfaces come along.
Now, before I get into the specifics of my speech, I thought I would mention something that many of you may know, which is that this year is a transition year for me. I’ll go from being full-time Microsoft and part-time on my Foundation work to full-time on the Foundation and part-time on Microsoft. I’ve been doing software full-time since I was 17, so it’s going to be a very interesting change. I’m not sure what that will feel like, what do you do on your last day, and all that. So it’s a big, big change, and some friends of mine volunteered to help me think it through and get ready for it. So they put together a video about my last day, so let’s take a look at that.
We had a lot of fun making that. In fact, the transition is going very well with Ray Ozzie and Craig Mundie, and others stepping up to do a lot of the broad software review work. Of course, I’ll still have a chance to be involved in a number of projects, including things like natural interface, that I’m very enthusiastic about, and I’ll want to make sure we drive it at full speed.
Let me focus now on business productivity, which is really what this conference is all about. The opportunity here is to take a number of advances and bring them together and make all information workers far more productive than they are today. We have telephony. Telephony is changing, it’s moving from the traditional special network, PSTN network, to run over the IP network. It’s changing in that the importance of the mobile device is becoming very large, and yet we still have in the Office environment in many businesses that traditional PBX, with its own directory, its own buttons, its own set of command
Well, as that goes away, that becomes literally a piece of software that runs in the network, and the devices become far more flexible, including even being able to do telephony against the PC, or take your mobile phone and have it, through a Blue Tooth, or other types of connections, connect through the PC and be a device that can be used for your business phone capability. New things can be created.
In fact, the boundary between the real time things you do on the computer, video conferencing, chat sessions, the nominal kind of things, like e-mail and SharePoint, and then telephony, the boundaries between these can largely be eliminated. The idea of seeing the state of a co-worker, what are they up to, what are the different ways you might get in touch with them, all of that, with the right software interface can be dramatically advanced.
That’s why you see in SharePoint the lists of people who are in a project and their status. We make that very easy to right click and then have all the verbs that relate to rich communication. The communications piece is happening in an evolutionary fashion, where you can bring in the software enablement, while you still have the traditional PBX, but in the long-run what it means is eliminating that all together, really getting that directory is no longer necessary, it’s just part of the standard directory that you’re using for the software infrastructure.
We have everything going on with social computing. And that’s more of a consumer phenomenon, but even here we can think that there are some great things that can be done in the SharePoint environment. In fact, you’ll see many customer examples at the conference. The one that I know the best, that I think is very impressive, is what Wachovia has done to take their SharePoint sites, and have it really be a way of anyone can find expertise, find somebody who is interested in a topic, and build the same capabilities by having these social networking capabilities, but build on SharePoint, so that the idea of what information is available to whom, and how it’s backed up, all the rich enterprise capabilities come along with the neat flexibility that that whole phenomena provides.
The ability to find the information we want in an organization, the ability to create a site when you have something you want to get done, the ability to take goals and easily turn those into indicators that all the employees have, the ability to survey an employee, the ability to dig down into sales information. The breadth of what we can do for business productivity is very large. In some ways the workers themselves don’t realize how information starved they’ve been, how their ability to reach back to previous projects, or find somebody with an answer. And partly by getting these examples out there you can create not just a top-down, but also a bottoms-up interest in saying, yes, if we can make this process more efficient, why don’t we take one of these templates and customize it, and do some other things, as well. We expect to see a lot of variety emerge out of these different things.
What category is this all about? All of you here probably understand that five years ago people would have said there were many of these different categories for software running up on the server. And to me it’s a lot like Office was, and here you’d have to go back more than 10 years ago, where people would think, which employees should have word processing, which should have spreadsheet, which should have presentation? What Microsoft Office did, by pulling those things together, and pricing it so that it was attractive for all the employees, it just became something that you took for granted.
You could take for granted that a new hire had learned Microsoft Office, just as part of their college experience. You could take for granted that sending a PowerPoint presentation, or an Excel spreadsheet to people in another part of your organization, or to a partner that you were working with, that would be very straightforward, it would simply be something people were familiar with. But, at this server level there was nothing like that. You had the same fragmentation, where people would say, okay, the legal department gets document management, or some finance group gets some content management server, the people doing the external Web site would be using a different environment than the people thinking about customer relationship management.
Business intelligence was kind of fragmented, there was even a term called executive information management, so that the top guys could kind of know what was going on, and as soon as they asked the people who do the real work, hey, how come these numbers look like this, those people would say, well, we don’t have that executive information system, we don’t see those same numbers, so we’re not sure what you’re referring to. It wasn’t a broad-based infrastructure to let people see things in a similar way.
So SharePoint really was not about winning in any individual category, it was about creating the level that was there for all the employees, and having templates so that no matter what your scenario is, you go and grab that templates that are general to the world, and templates that are built up inside a company, that you use. And this is the breadth that we’re interested in. The very basic idea is when you have multiple workers looking at information, there should be a SharePoint site that does that very, very well.
Another way to look at this is to think about the scale of the site, how it gets originated, and how broadly it gets used. At the top level you have things like the finance page, or the budgeting page, or the external Web site. Clearly you have very few of those, and those are extremely carefully managed sites, where you have to make sure who has access, you have to make sure the information is absolutely correct, and there were a set of tools that were focused on a variety of those things.
Then down at the other extreme, you have the personal site, and that’s a super-nice thing that people can go on and find your interests, see the documents that you might want them to look at, to know what you’re focused on. But, a lot of what counts is in the middle, it’s not at those two extremes. If you have a particular customer you’re trying to win, or a very important event you’re trying to organize, it shouldn’t require going out to IT, and getting a new manual to create that site for that activity. In fact, as soon as you can see some e-mail with enclosures people should simply say, hey, we’ve got to create a site, let’s start with the same template we used for something we did previously.
So it’s really in these kind of department-level sites that I think you’re going to see a massive amount of innovation. And the easier you can make that for the young worker who comes in who understands a bit about how software empowerment works, or the person who has a vision of how they want a team to look at these, what are those key indicators that they want everybody to look at, and to be able to not just see red, yellow, green, but to click and drill down, and see the underlying trends to understand what’s going on.
Certainly as soon as you go to sell provisioning, you see an explosion of these things, making that end user programming easier, making sure you can get a broader set of gadgets that can go up there and display information in a rich way, making sure that the insight comes out of these things, and that’s what we’re all about. And that’s why an event like this, where people share the latest really can open our eyes to where we should be focusing on, making this even easier, and having richer templates available.
The attendance here is a symptom of the broad success that SharePoint is having. In fact, this is our fastest growing server product we’ve ever had. It’s over a billion in sales, and we have very few servers, SQL and Exchange, other than the basic Windows Server platform itself, and the only two that have ever achieved that level. This year we’ll finish out with about 100 million licenses. It will take us until July to get there, but that’s a very significant number. If you think of PCs in the world, it’s around a billion. If you think of Microsoft Office, licensed uses of Microsoft Office, that’s about 500 million. You can say, what are those other 500 million PCs doing, well some of that is the unlicensed part of that piece. But, in any case, 100 million for a product that’s about information sharing, it’s completely in a different league than any of those constituents, more narrowly focused, higher priced per seat products, because here we’re really saying that a company should adopt this as a horizontal tool, and that they should just let sites spring up in a very, very broad fashion.
Another product that’s having incredible success, although it goes back much longer in time in terms of when we first came out with it, is our Exchange Server. This is very, very successful. And in terms of corporate e-mail, if you had asked me 10 years ago, all the requirements that people would have around corporate e-mail, I would have been amazed. I wouldn’t have expected it. But what’s happened with Exchange is that as the importance of corporate e-mail has grown, as our most demanding customers have pushed us in terms of scale, and depth, and auditing, and recovery, and all of these wonderful things that need to be done, Exchange has been the product that’s been on that learning curve, and benefited from it. And so year-by-year, the portion of, say, the Fortune 100, you can take any set of businesses but let’s just use that, the portion of them that have Exchange as their primary messaging infrastructure has gone up every year. Now we’ve reached the point where 81 have it as their messaging infrastructure. A few are mixed, there’s a couple in there still with GroupWise, the balance are largely Notes, but we are converting even some of those 19. A year from now, this statistic will be even larger. And so as you get to that, it becomes a very rich environment in terms of the services, and the add-ons, and things like that, and we see Exchange, which is about asynchronous communication, and SharePoint as really very, very complementary. Any kind of complex dialogue you start having in Exchange you should think, hey, let’s create a SharePoint site because otherwise when somebody new comes into the dialogue, somebody wants to go back and review things, e-mail isn’t for everything. As soon as you reach a certain level of complexity, you want what SharePoint provides. And that’s why we’re trying to make it easy as you do attachments to say, would you like to create a site around it.
So unbelievable momentum for SharePoint and Exchange. And one thing we’ve done that I think is very exciting is, we take the schedule that we have to innovate in Office itself, and the client software, and these releases of SharePoint and Exchange, and we connect them together. So we’re thinking through a very broad scenario, and what do we need to do in the various pieces so they all come together. So something like business intelligence, we will have rich new visualization capabilities, say, in Excel, and then you can publish those up to Web sites, and just thinking through so that all those pieces are very complementary.
Now another interesting change going on is the ability to run software wherever you’d like. As soon as the Internet came along, people recognized that it wasn’t just about thinking of a browser as a terminal, like a modern 3270, we could also have servers talking to servers. And you could almost take the simple idea of a subroutine call and say, okay, can I make that across the Internet? Well, that required a lot of standards for protocols, and liability and security plumbing type things around XML, and these WS* standards, and that really has moved forward. So when you have the Internet as almost like the internal networks used to be, you can think, okay, are there servers that I manage that I could let somebody else do? There’s real tradeoffs here in terms of customization, and resource management, and a high percentage of server computing will continue to be done on premise in a customer’s data center. But the idea that there’s this flexibility here where some things may be overloads, or password recovery, or certain profiles that are just more straightforward to have managed elsewhere, now that’s been enabled.
In the late ’90s, people talked apparently naively about this, that it would be very easy to do. In fact, making sure that understanding all of the responsibilities, the service guarantees, handling errors, what the administration model is if you split the hardware location from the people who administer the rights of the various people accessing things, that turned out to require some really hard work in the software itself. And so with this vision in mind in the late ’90s, software plus service, Microsoft went about taking our key products and enabling them for this type of usage. And over the last couple of years, we’ve been in a fairly limited beta type mode, letting a few customers go up, and then last fall we opened it up for a lot more large customers to be able to do those things.
So this is coming together as a choice of how you run these systems. Today’s milestone, what we’re announcing now, is that we’re moving to embrace customers of all sizes. It’s still a beta, but now we’re going to bring in customers without 5,000 seats, which is where we’ve been before, and we expect by the end of this year, if this all goes well, that we’ll have a general availability of a subscription type service for both SharePoint and Exchange. We have a lot of very neat customer things going on around this. A great example is Coca-Cola Enterprises, which is taking all their SharePoint work and putting it into an online type environment. For some of the special things they’re doing that is a very, very strong fit. So this is a step towards giving people this opportunity.
The data centers you run, those will become more and more automatically managed with software. The way that we run these things that are multi-tenant, we learn from those things, and the management software gets better. And so it will be a hybrid, it will be a case where you have a choice.
To give you a real sense of what that will look like, I would like to ask John Betz, the director of Business Online Services to come on and show us these new online capabilities. Welcome, John.
JOHN BETZ: Great. Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you very much.
It’s my privilege to join you today and share publicly for the first time some of the fantastic work that’s been happening with the team over in Redmond. And what I would like to do is do so from the perspective of one of the customers that Bill mentioned, Coca-Cola Enterprises. So the scenario is, I heard about Microsoft Online Services, and I went to a Microsoft Web site and provisioned myself for the beta that we’re announcing this morning. I registered for that, and I received a set of credentials that then allow me to log in to a Microsoft data center, and see the services that have been made available to me. So I logged in now, and I see the administration center for Microsoft Online come up, and I can see the nice tab interface, I see some news and information about the service, I can see the status of the services that have been made available to me. Because I’m the only user on the system, I’m the administrator, the first thing I might want to do is add a user to the system. And from our earlier video, it’s pretty clear, Bill might be looking for something to do later in the year. So let’s go ahead and see if we can convince him to take a role at the world’s largest bottler. I’ll add Bill quickly to the system here, and get this set up.
So I have Bill entered on the system. I’ll assign a temporary password for Bill, so when he logs in for the first time, we’ll force him to change his password. I’m going to copy that off to a clipboard for use later. I can make Bill a system administrator on the site. I can enable his account, and when I enable his account then, I assign a license for the services that have been made available to this account. In this case, I have an online suite available. I’m going to give Bill an Exchange inbox, I’ll give him access to SharePoint Online, and a Live Meeting account, and create that. So we’re going off now provisioning Bill with those services, and the promise now is, as a user, I can have the richness of this enterprise grade software delivered as a service to me on my desktop. So Bill has his user account set up, I could send him an e-mail with his credentials, and he would be able to log in for the first time. We don’t actually expect customers of any size to do this on a one off basis. In fact, one of the promises of software plus services is that there will be some things I run in my own environment, and then some things I subscribe to, and I can mix the two together.
In this example, I’ll show you under migration how we’ve enabled e-mail co-existence, and directory synchronization. So let’s say that I’m running Active Directory in my local environment, and I want to synchronize those users with my online account. I can read some information about how to do that, I’ll enable synchronization, and download a small tool that I’ll run on my server. I have a terminal server session set up with Windows Server here that I’ll just show you the tool loaded, and I simply step through the tool and add my credentials, so here are my admin credentials for my online account. I enter in my credentials for my local user that has access to the Active Directory user list, so the tool will now save that configuration, and it will wake up every 24 hours and synchronize any changes that I’ve made locally, users, adds, deletes, and push those up into my Microsoft Online account. I’ll finish that. So that’s going to run in the background as we come back to our administration center.
Now I know this audience is very excited about SharePoint, and we’re equally excited to now bring SharePoint to more people than ever before through SharePoint Online. And SharePoint Online, again, is something that we’re running in a Microsoft data center, and I can see that I’ve been allocated with a set of storage space, and I can set up new site collections right here.
I have one started, our HR Web site, and I’m going to go into site settings quickly and just quickly add Bill as an administrator on our site. So let’s add Bill. So Bill has verified he has an account, and he has a license for SharePoint. I’m going to give him full control. And let’s make a request, we’ll ask him to make our site look better, give him full control, and there we go. So now Bill is added to the system, he has control over it.
At this point in the demonstration, I want to switch gears. I’m no longer the IT professional, I am now the end user, and I’m going to sign in for the first time. Microsoft Online has a small sign in client that we use to manage the credentials such that I don’t have to log in every time to SharePoint when I want to get at my documents. We’re going over HTTPS, and we don’t require a VPN connection. I’ll copy in my temporary password from earlier, and because I haven’t logged in before, it will first ask me to change my password, so let’s do that quickly. The other thing this sign in client is doing is, it’s going to manage local configuration of client. I’ve got to type that correctly, hang on. That’s not working. So we changed the password, and then the sign in client will manage the local configuration, in this case Outlook and Live Meeting have some local settings that need to be set up, so in the background what’s happening is, I’m adding a new profile for Outlook for our new user, and Outlook will come up and we’ll see that I’ve now been provisioned with an inbox on Exchange, and my new mail will come down, and then I’ll be able to immediately start sending mail to my company.
So Outlook has come up now. It’s synchronizing my mail. There’s our message from SharePoint, make this look better. Before I click off to that site, let me just show you on my user list now, I’ve synchronized those users with my Active Directory, and I can immediately start sending mail to those folks.
I’ll click now and look at SharePoint, and show you a SharePoint site. You’ve probably seen it 100 times before, but because I now have full control over this site, I can do things like start adding pages and edit this in context. So let’s add a quick picture to our site, let’s bring in a Web part, so I have an HR document library with my policies and procedures that I want to bring in. We’re enabling the content management aspect here, so I can check those changes in and kick off a workflow, or publish that to our live Internet site. Let me publish it live quickly here. So this is starting to look better.
Of course now that I have SharePoint on the backend, my experience in Office 2007 becomes much richer, and in this example I have a Word document that if I open it up, you can see that I’ve been force versioning, check in/check out on my documents, so I could check out the document, make a change, and then come down and save those changes, and then that versioning will be set up such that I can review past versions on the document, if I click on the review tab I can compare this with the previous version and see all that work.
The last thing I want to show you is back to SharePoint here. I’ve actually used one of the SharePoint partners that I have to do some customization work. There’s a great opportunity for partners to configure and customize SharePoint Online. In this example, I’ve set up a new master page that’s going to enforce my corporate identity across my Internet. So I’ll apply that now, and look at our HR Web site again. And now I’ve completely changed the look of my Internet, and now I’m Coca-Cola Enterprises.
So that’s what I wanted to show you with online services, it’s the promise of enterprise class software now being delivered as subscription services from Microsoft. If you’re interested in the beta we’re announcing today, you can visit Microsoft.com/online to get more information and register. Thank you very much. (Applause.)
BILL GATES: Well, now let’s talk about search. It’s a very important element, because workers, they want to be able to quickly find colleagues, documents and, of course, in every business you may have some special ways that you want this to work. We’re offering a very full set of offerings here, from the free Search Server Express to the standard built-in level of capability, to the very rich and new offering that we have from our friends at FAST. FAST is best in class enterprise search, and it’s got great scale, it handles special data types. In a lot of businesses, this has turned out to be a very, very important tool for them. And so by offering these, and letting people pick in each area exactly what the match is, we think we’ve got the best over all solution.
We’re announcing today the actual availability of a Search Server Express. We announced a few months ago that we would have this available as a free download, and today is the day that that’s becoming available. It really is quite easy to install. It’s very easy to use. It’s got even a federation capability based on open search. And so it’s a nice milestone here for the straightforward things that people want to do.
To give you a sense of this breadth, let me ask Richard Riley, who is the Senior Technical Product Manager, to come up and talk to us about enterprise search. Welcome.
RICHARD RILEY: Thank you. (Applause.) Okay, so today I have a demo of two parts. The first part is going to be focusing on the entry level section that you saw Bill talk about just then with Search Server Express. And then the second part is going to focus on some of the great work that FAST has done to integrate the FAST technology onto the SharePoint platform.
To begin with, let’s show you what the why isn’t that coming on. Here we go. To begin with, let me show you what the kind of out of the box experience looks like for Search Server Express. In this example, we’ve got a company called Contoso Rocks, it’s a very famous record label that I’m sure you’ve all heard of. And Contoso Rocks needed intranet search. So they headed off to Microsoft.com/enterprisesearch. They downloaded Search Server Express, and about an hour later, this is where they ended up. So it took about an hour from download to getting this thing configured.
Let’s look at what the search experience looks like for Contoso Rocks. If we put a search query in for something like Daft Punk, and hit return, we’ll see that the left hand side page is probably familiar to quite a lot of people in the room. It’s essentially most of the enterprise search features in SharePoint Services 2007 we’ve put into Search Server Express. So you get all of the cool features like MS Security Trim results, RSS feeds, alerts, certificate collapsing, all the kinds of cool stuff you’ve come to know and love in SharePoint Search is now in Search Server Express.
Now the right-hand side of the screen is probably new to a lot of people, and these are the federated results that Bill was just talking about. Now, this is brand new functionality. Now, these results are coming back from Live.com, and what we’re doing is sending the query, Daft Punk, to Live.com, and then rendering those results on the right-hand side. Now this federation premise is actually very easy to customize and extend, and in a second I’ll show you how easy that is.
Contoso Rocks is really happy with what they’ve got here. There are only two things that they wanted to change. The first one is that they wanted to brand the nice, new Internet search site, intranet search site to match their corporate branding. And the second thing is, they have some enterprise vaults in their environment, and they want us to return results from enterprise vaults kind of alongside where the Live results are. So they wanted to federate to enterprise vault. So let me show you what they did to achieve both of those goals.
This is Contoso Rocks’ intranet site, and you can see we have the search box in the top right-hand corner. If I type in Daft Punk again, what they’ve done is connect their intranet search up to Microsoft Search Server. So, again, you can see the results come back, the same search results, but because we’re built on the SharePoint platform, we’ve used SharePoint Designer to configure and change the master pages and the XSL, so the whole thing looks completely different. Again, on the right-hand side, you can see the results from Live.
For them to be able to configure the search server to be able to talk to enterprise vault, it’s actually very straightforward. If we click into the search administration page, we can drop down and click on federated locations. We can click import location. We can browse to the SLV file. This is a federated location definition. It’s basically an XML file that tells search server all about enterprise vault, how to send the query through it, and then how to render the results it gets back. We can hit open, we can hit okay, and then done, and it’s as simple as that.
Now that’s set the location up on the server side. Now what we need to do is go back into the search page, the results page, hit edit page, click modify shared Web part, and now we can see enterprise vault in the list of locations, the one we just added, so we can click that. We can click okay, and then we can exit edit mode. And immediately you see we have results back from Semantic Enterprise Vault. It was that simple. Click, click, click, we’ve got results back from enterprise vault.
The guys at Contoso Rocks, they were really happy with themselves. They started thinking about what else they could do with Search Server Express. Like any good company, they have an Internet site. So this is ContosoRocks.com, it’s an ASP.net site, and they have a search box on it. What we can do is, if we put a search in again for Daft Punk, and I’ll show you the results page, these results are actually coming back from Search Server. What we’ve got on this ASP.net site are two ASP.net server controls, they’re sending the search query to the Search Server Web service, and then rendering the result. So what Contoso Rocks got, essentially, was intranet site search for free, plus Internet .com site search for free. The server controls that we use on this page are actually available today from Proflex. These were published today, and they’re part of the Search Community Toolkit. So if this looks kind of cool to you, then go ahead and download Search Server Express and these server controls.
Now I’m just going to switch gears a little bit, and I’m going to talk about the work that FAST has done. So I’m going to talk about the high-end search experience. All of that was in that kind of entry-level, and now I’m going to talk about the high-end experience. Again, this is Contoso Rocks’ home page, intranet home page, except this time it’s connected to FAST Search, and not MSS. Let’s click through to document search, and you’ll immediately see a different view on this kind of search experience.
What you see on the screen there are a bunch of Web parts, written by FAST. So on this top we have navigator Web parts, and these are showing entities that have been extracted out of documents at index time, and allowed us to drill down into our search index. In the middle of the page you can see a document preview, and I’ll show you that in a moment, it’s very cool, built on Silverlight. At the bottom you can see a set of document results.
So let’s say, for example, I want to filter on Britney Spears. I filtered my results down, and again, you see this navigator change, so the number of entities that contain Britney Spears, plus those other entities, are filtered through those navigation Web parts at the top. You get a list of results down at the bottom, and then we get this really cool preview control, where we can spin around and actually see what’s in that PowerPoint deck. So a very different experience, a much enhanced way to navigate around those search results.
Now, Contoso Rocks is a very good company to work for, and they like to keep their employees happy. Obviously, everyone who works at Contoso Rocks loves music, so they’ve provided their employees with a home page on their Intranet, that was driven by search, that allows them to find and share their music preferences. So what you’re looking at here, again, is a whole bunch of new Web parts, written by FAST, and what this allows us to do is search without using query terms.
So on the left hand side where you see these colleagues, these are my colleagues at Contoso Rocks, and they’ve added their music preferences to their My Site. And then FAST has indexed those music preferences, and on the right hand side of the screen you can see these category filters. Now, the category filters are driven by SharePoint lists, so there’s very deep SharePoint integration here. And what happens is if I drag Ashley onto this song result mixer, if you watch the center of the screen the song list, that actually updates dynamically as I drag Ashley across.
It’s a very cool way to find out what Ashley likes, and whether I kind of like those things that Ashley likes, or I very much like the things Ashley likes. Not only that, but we can then drag on, say, classic rock, and then we get a combination of Ashley’s preferences, plus the classic rock filter, and again, as I drag this across you can see the results change. So a very innovative way of searching without actually putting a query term in.
So finally I’ll just show you what we can do if we actually do use a query term, just type in Daft Punk again, and hit return. You’ll see that what we get back is a different page, or a different content on the page. We get a Daft Punk video playing in the bottom right hand corner. We then get a set of images that are, again, filtered by the query term Daft Punk, Daft Punk Songs, and Daft Punk music, even, and Daft Punk news.
So hopefully that’s given you a good idea of the power and flexibility in Search Server, our free offering, and also kind of where we’re going with regards to integrating the FAST technology into the SharePoint platform. Thank you very much for listening. (Applause.)
BILL GATES: One area in search that I think is particularly important, and hopefully you’ll see some great examples of at this conference, is how these business data connectors let you get at information of all types. Search is great when it can get at your documents, but it’s even more powerful when it can get at the structured information. I know within Microsoft the ability to find customers, and people, and organization things is based on the fact we’ve done great business data connectors out to our structured information sources. And we use those to really complete this search scenario.
Looking out into the future, obviously I’m very bullish that software will continue to innovate at a very, very rapid pace. Obviously, the challenge you have is to take those advances and map them onto business effectiveness. How can a manager know what’s going on in their group, how can they survey them easily, how can they take quality challenges and let people drill down into those, and see what’s going on. How can they take customer trends, and understand what they mean, and have different parts of the organization all over the world working together.
More and more the way I think you should think of this is that the SharePoint is where the information will really come together. A lot of it will be sourced out of applications that are very structured, a lot of it will be third party data, a lot of it will come more bottoms-up from the e-mail, and document creation that your information workers do. But, the place that those things can all come together, and you can see information, where people don’t have to think about that it’s many different applications, or multiple third-party data sources, or lots of people building documents, the place you can build the interface that’s just about what you’re trying to get done is in this SharePoint environment.
Over the next several years, as we bring in new ways of interacting with the machine, these investments will be even more valuable. When I talk about that computer in the desk, or that intelligent white board, certainly a very high percentage of the time that will be SharePoint navigation, where just drilling into the sales data, seeing a trend, pinning a little note, saying, who you think should see that, and studying the information to see what’s going on there, all of that relies on this data structure.
For Microsoft we’re making a record level of R&D investments, because of our belief in these things. Solving the tough problems around security administration, solving very tough problems, like having extra capacity for surprising demand, rethinking what the data center looks like, whether it’s our own, or your data center, to make things far more software driven, more automatic.
One of the techniques we see in many of these things is what we call modeling, taking and modeling what’s going on in the enterprise, what’s going on describing a particular type of product, and that’s an approach that the promise is to reduce dramatically the amount of code that needs to be written. We’re at the very early stages of that, but it’s one of the things, it’s along with natural interface, that should make the value and approachability of the information that’s coming through these software-enabled sites, even more impactful.
So, again, I thank you for coming. I think it’s going to be a great event for us to learn where you want us to go with the SharePoint product. It will make a big different to us in how we set our priorities, and so it’s wonderful to have you be here, and we look forward to seeing what you’re going to do with SharePoint. Thank you. (Applause.)
TOM RIZZO: Thank you, Bill.
So that’s a great presentation. So we have we’re lucky to have Bill for 20 minutes for an opening Q&A. So we have a couple of microphones set up. So please step up to the Microsoft and ask your question. We already have takers here.
So let’s grab a seat, Bill, and then we can I’ll moderate the Q&A and we will get started.
So let’s start with microphone one, over there. Yes, sir.
QUESTION: It’s quite fitting to have, I guess, Tom and Bill on stage. It’s Michael Herman from Parallelspace. My question is around data access, and data storage. On the SharePoint side the whole concept of sort of universal data access through ADO.NET isn’t there. Bill, in San Jose you kind of suggested that maybe in Office 14 things were going to change. I was wondering if it’s just in terms of ADO.NET access to an existing data model, or whether the data model is going to change in SharePoint. And the second question is decade-long effort to change the store in Exchange. Can you update us on what’s happening in Exchange?
BILL GATES: Great. Yes, the idea of what internally at Microsoft is called Storage Unification, is a very big deal, because there’s a huge opportunity there to simplify the programming model, the administrative model, and the ability to do integration. And so in the case of SharePoint, we’ve got these lists that in some ways are better than tables.
They have rich behavior that is not you don’t see in SQL tables, but then in SQL you have very rich behaviors, including the flexibility of queries, and kind of scale that you can do that goes beyond what you have as lists. So what’s the answer? What you want to get to is having SQL not just have these lists at a layer above the database, but actually have those be native capability, and literally take the richness of tables, but enhanced to do things like we do with lists.
So in the next version of SharePoint we take a big step in terms of being able to put a table in, and have all that SQL capability, or be able to take a lot of those list-type features and have those against tables. This is the kind of roadmap thing that we should probably get into in the breakout sessions, talk about how far we’re going in 14, and get feedback about that. The direction is pretty straightforward. You want list semantics to be in the database engine itself, so that the kind of rich data types, and scaling, and query capability that you almost take for granted when you’re in a SQL environment, that you have those without giving up the reasons that we invented lists, because of the approachability and capabilities you have there.
So that’s one unification. SharePoint has always been built on SQL, but there’s a layer of logic above SQL that we’re bringing down in. Likewise for CRM, we built a layer of logic above SQL, and they’re working with SharePoint to bring that down in. ActiveDirectory traditionally had its own way of doing distributed information replication, because it was so advanced in that sense. As we’re moving down to more of a meta-directory, the thing that you edit, the thing that’s rich, that would be based on SQL, and then it will just do replication out into the traditional stores that are used for the distributed log-on capabilities.
Exchange has its own database environment, and there were some very important capabilities that SQL just didn’t have, in terms of hierarchy and performance, a lot of good reasons why SQL built up its own capabilities. Now we’re putting that ability, say, table in table, which is how you do the modeling, and the hierarchy, we’re putting that into SQL. So you’ll out in the future of Exchange, it literally will be hosted on top of SQL. That doesn’t mean breaking what people have done, it simply means that you get a bit of simplicity underneath, with the rich capabilities. At the breakout they’ll talk bout how we’re taking those steps, but I’ve been a big champion of storage innovation. We had a big engineering offset last Friday, and we’re talking a lot about how important this is.
TOM RIZZO: All right. Let’s move to the next question. Microphone number three, sir. It looks like you have a question, go ahead.
QUESTION: Yes, mine is probably around the same topic, just when do you have plans of going relational with the data store, allowing nested tables, and relational drop downs within SharePoint to a real extent?
BILL GATES: Yes, the idea of table lists today are actually pretty powerful. They were built for the kinds of things people do with SharePoint. Tables, that kind of rich table in table thing, we actually take a big step towards that with SQL Server 2008, that’s the release that actually just got announced last week. It’s out in a customer technical preview at this point in time, and I think it’s in the summer that it goes to the full general release.
So I don’t know which particular breakout, but we should really talk to you about how that SQL roadmap, how SQL is picking up the features that match what we’ve done with lists, and then you’ll be able to, as you create a list, say do you want it to be a native table down in the SQL world itself.
TOM RIZZO: So the next (inaudible) will actually cover SQL Server 7, 8, and SharePoint working together. So you’ll get a little glimpse into the CTP of SQL working with SharePoint, and then we’ll talk, obviously in the rest of the conference, a little bit about the future. But
QUESTION: That’s great. Being a SQL developer you get used to all those nice relational features, and the integrity, and you want to see all that in the underlying data store. One other question for the office integration for using forms authentication and cookie lists, the model there, for the actual Office suite, is that in the plan?
BILL GATES: I’m not sure.
TOM RIZZO: Yes, so you’re asking about forms-based authentication from the Office client through, and we are looking at all the different authentication types that we can support for Office today. If you haven’t seen some of our sister products like ISA, or the Intelligent Application Gateway from the security group, they help try and help solve a number of these issues for forms-based authentication from Office into the SharePoint environment, for non-VPN access, and those sorts of things. So definitely take a look at that product set.
Let’s go to mike number one over there, and, sir, please ask your question.
QUESTION: Yes, my question is about Microsoft online, and client seats. I heard the number 5,000 mentioned, but is there an upper limit or a sweet spot?
BILL GATES: Well, Microsoft is internally organized that we think of ourselves as essentially an online customer. So we’ve got if you take our contractors, employees, and everything, we’ve got about 100,000 seats, where we’re using that same way to formalize, okay, what are the costs, what are the resources, how well does it work. We have other customers that are up in that range, that 50 to 100,000 range. There’s no architectural design limit in this.
In fact, one of the beauties of something like Exchange and SharePoint is they’re products, whether its in our data center or in your data center, that breaking down into which SharePoint Web sites do you put on different servers, and having load balancing for those things, taking which users you put mailboxes on, we’ve always had an abstract view that lets you add servers to get additional capacity, because these are tasks that breakdown, in the case of SharePoint into sites, in the case of Exchange into user mailboxes. And so you can spread those around, and the user doesn’t even know specifically which server that they’re going against. Even if you migrate a site from one server to another server, the user doesn’t know that.
So the original pilots were done with customers that had 5,000 or more people. I’d say the real significance of what we’re doing today, in terms of opening it up, and doing the beta with customers with less, is we’re trying to make sure that our IT sophistication requirements are reasonable as you get down into smaller organizations. Anybody with 5,000 seats or up, you’ve got a pretty expert IT staff that we’ve been working with to get the migrations onto online capabilities. We want to scale this all the way down, so that literally you don’t have to have an IT capability, and that’s where we get into what we’ve branded Live. So we’re working that one up through small customers. We want to work this one down and make sure there’s no gap in-between.
So I think we will learn a lot about how simple are the provisioning tools, how simple are the monitoring tools that we have here, by bringing in that new class of customers. But, there’s no we are willing to work with the world’s largest, most demanding customers, in terms of bringing them into the online offering.
TOM RIZZO: I’ll just add one quick comment for you, sir, if you haven’t seen Energizer, or a number of our other enterprise customers, who are larger than 5,000 seats, we actually will do dedicated hosting from a Microsoft standpoint for the large enterprise customer.
So let’s move to mike number two. Sir, please ask your question.
QUESTION: Good morning. My question is, with the SharePoint online services, this opens a big door for competition. In the past few weeks Google announced that they have this thing called Google Team Edition. So obviously, personally I think SharePoint is far more superior. What’s Microsoft’s plan in being ahead of the competition, and more importantly, gaining better adoption at the end-user level?
BILL GATES: Well, SharePoint is about end users, and being able to get their work done. And one thing you see in any company is, as soon as you have some SharePoint sites, people are going to those and they’re thinking, geez, I have a similar task I’d like to do, now can I still provision and can I get at the list of templates that are the starting point for these particular tasks. So to get full value out of the SharePoint, companies really need to take all their common things, whether it’s financial analysis, budgeting process, serving employees, setting big metrics, and have sample sites that have been done in various departments and get the word out about those.
Really, successful software always requires both a bottoms-up approach, where users see what they want, why they want it, and it requires a top-down approach, where you understand, okay, who should be able to access this information, what capacity do we need to put into the data center, how do we connect up to departments and things like that. And it’s when you get those two working together that something really amazing can happen.
So with e-mail it was Exchange meeting those very stringent top-down requirements, and it was Outlook helping users to be more productive. With SharePoint it’s, we do new server features for the top down requirements, and then it’s more at the template level, really, and getting the word out, that we allow it to be and the self-provisioning, that we allow people to move into that bottoms-up.
So the population of people who know they use SharePoint, or are comfortable with it, is going up dramatically. Even if you take markets like the education market, schools create portals using SharePoint, we have a lot of special work going on with that, and you can go into the per-student page, the per-class page, see the homework that was assigned to your child, and really view information. SharePoint is perfect for something like that school kind of application, whether it’s high school or college. So our commitment to you is we’re going to get, as workers come into your workforce, a higher and higher percentage of them will have been exposed to SharePoint by the time they come in, just like you take for granted for Microsoft Office today.
In terms of Google, not to overstate it, but they really don’t understand the special needs of business. Today their economic model is based on consumer search, and having done an incredible job there, and obviously we’re investing in challenging them in that space, making sure that, even as it grows, gets to be more competitive than it is today. If you’ve seen the Google tools that have tried to do productivity type things, they really don’t have the richness, the responsiveness. You can see the relative success they’ve had there.
Most of these Google products, to be frank, the day they announce them is their best day. And then after that
TOM RIZZO: Ouch. (Applause.)
BILL GATES: Well, I might be biased.
TOM RIZZO: I agree with you.
BILL GATES: You should check into what’s really happened with various of these things. I remember there was one called GTalk, I can barely remember the name, but it was so it was going to change the world. It’s healthy that there are many choices that people have here. The breadth of what needs to be done to create something like SharePoint is very, very high. But, then again, we want to meet your test, where your end users are really pushing you even a little bit to say, hey, we’re not using it for budgeting, we’re not using it for personnel review, we’re not using it for sales analysis. Why are we just using SharePoint over here? I want to be empowered to use it across a wider range of capabilities.
TOM RIZZO: All right. We have time there’s lots of questions, unfortunately, we have time for one more question. Sir, at number three you’ve been waiting a while. So please ask your question.
QUESTION: All right. Microsoft made an offer for Yahoo!, and if in the future Yahoo! becomes part of the Microsoft family, how would that affect the SharePoint search experience and roadmap?
BILL GATES: I don’t think whether or not we end up doing the Yahoo! merger or not has any real direct impact to SharePoint. Obviously it represents the idea that we’re very serious about competing in consumer search. We think that’s a very area. We’ve learned a lot at the company, in terms of how you build up the data center with hundreds of thousands of servers, and you are seeing a benefit, in terms of how we think through automating the data center, both our own, as we host SharePoint and Exchange, but also what are these software management things that we can carry over into customer data centers.
So the fact that we’re very serious about competing in that space, and we have some breakthrough ideas that will change consumer search, I think that is relevant. I think that will help SharePoint, because that boundary, as you saw a little bit of the federated search, there are some neat things across that boundary. In fact, if you take desktop search, SharePoint search, and broad Web search, I think you’re going to see more and more things, where you’re drawing on information in each one of those to improve them, and letting people see results that come out of multiple of those things. And we have an incredible team who works on this consumer search stuff, and will be the ones who deliver the surprises that come through on this.
So search is a very, very important area for us, including for example that when you run servers, you shouldn’t have to have people on call 24 hours a day. That is, if a hardware failure takes place, the software should automatically notice that and do the right thing. We have that for a number of our properties today, and that will become a capability for our data center running any of these things as well as how you run them.
So, in general, it shows our bullishness about search and software, whether or not specifically it happens, it’s hard to speculate on.
QUESTION: Actually, I have one more question for Bill.
TOM RIZZO: A quick one.
QUESTION: Yes, a quick one. So now you’ll be focusing more and more on your Foundation. Which president will you vote for in 2008? (Laughter.)
TOM RIZZO: Well, Bill has to leave right now.
BILL GATES: Both Microsoft and my Foundation are pretty clear that we have causes that we believe in. In the Foundation, global health is the big priority. And we actually work on an organization called One.org, that we helped finance, that went out and got each of the candidates to speak about what they would do relative to global health. So if you go to www.one.org, then you can see videos, and actually you’ll see that all the main candidates have made pretty strong commitments, McCain, Clinton, Obama, all of them have talked about continuing some of the great things that have gone on. But if you want to see the nuances on that issue, I would encourage you to go up and look at that site. I’m not making any particular public comment beyond that.
TOM RIZZO: Let’s leave it at that. Let’s all thanks Bill Gates for his time. Thank you, Bill. (Applause.)