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Microsoft - Changing the World One Platform at a Time

6 Mar, 2008 By: Sand Sinclair imageSource

Microsoft - Changing the World One Platform at a Time

Alright, since Microsoft Technologist and Visionary, Bill Gates, gave a
“final farewell” while keynoting at the recent CES show, let’s begin here with
his proclamations and the rumble of the newest technologies that affect both the
way we live personally and business-wise. These highlights will lead in to
specific products and platforms that effect changes in our channel of digital
document technology.

To begin with, there are not many expos that can boast being the biggest and
most recognized show on the planet, but the 2008 International Consumer
Electronics Show (CES) held in Las Vegas, kicked off the new year with a virtual
explosion of innovative technologies to catapult a record number of cutting-edge
“gizmos and gadgets” into the next decade. More than 2,700 exhibitors spanned a
record 1.85 million net square feet, along with a roster of leading corporate
executives giving dynamic speeches, most notably, Microsoft CEO and founder,
Bill Gates. With reflection, Gates gave his eleventh and “final” keynote address
at CES, indicating that he’ll concentrate on other sectors, including the Bill
and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Although Gates will no longer oversee Microsoft’s day-to-day business
operations as of mid-year, he assured those of us in the audience that platforms
such as the Windows  operating  system,  Windows Live, and Windows Mobile will
be at the heart of the ongoing transformation, and to expect to see more
profound advancements.

"This is my last (CES) keynote," Gates said, noting that soon it will be the
first time since he was 17 years old that he won’t have a full-time job, an
inference to his impending transition taking place this summer. “What do you do
on your last day?"

New Digital Decade

Gates went on to emphasize that we are entering a “New Digital Decade," one
where his company plans to continue to play a major role. He offered insight
that this next decade of technology will offer users a rich array of choices
and   new ways to gather and  organize  data.

Forecasting ahead, Gates said, "The trend here is clear—all media and
entertainment will be software driven. The first Digital Decade has been
successful. The trend now is to have information wherever you want. To have Web
sites that are richer and that allow both business activities as well as
consumer activities.” He continued with, “We’re taking the full-screen PC and
making it better and better for those experiences, and customizing those things
so that people get exactly what they want."

Gates acknowledged that the market for PCs will remain strong, but noted that
many of the concepts he talked about will now be delivered through automation on
mobile devices, especially PDAs and Smartphones.

Okay, let’s look through Gates’ eyes at the sweeping changes since the new
millennium began, when the first true Digital Decade was underway, including the
continued expansion of the popular Windows-based PCs, the global spread of
mobile phones, the pervasiveness of broadband networks, the advent of portable
digital media devices, and  for many, office device automation and remote

Gates explained, “Since I first started talking about the Digital Decade in
2001, the speed with which digital technology has become central to the way we
work, learn and play, has been amazing. But in many ways, we actually are at the
very beginning of the transformation of what software will enable. During the
next Digital Decade, technology will make our lives richer, more connected, more
productive and more fulfilling in profound and exciting ways.”  Gates went on to
outline his vision for this next Digital Decade — an era in which dramatic
advances in hardware and software will make the power of computing a ubiquitous
part of day-to-day life. He referenced how natural user interfaces will more
closely reflect the way people interact with each other.

Interface. This is “BIG” in Microsoft’s book, and apparently is a driving
force for the company. To elaborate, Gates said, “High-definition experiences
will be nearly everywhere. Services-connected devices running on the Web, and
huge amounts of storage accessible via the Internet, will mean that information
and the capabilities people want will be available instantly and seamlessly, no
matter where they are.”

What are several areas of interest that Microsoft and other companies will be
exploring in the next decade, creating a real buzz? According to Gates, one is
delivering applications through the Internet and another is the use of more
touch screen and voice commands to activate and control the new types of
hardware that are coming into the market. Well, flooding into the market,
actually. Gates was confident about more touch-screen concepts coming into
mainstream use. He acknowledged his rival Apple, and the success of the
iPhone—using that as an example of good technology available in a mainstream
device today.

Without question, Bill Gates is emphatic about the ongoing transformation of
the personal computer, indicating that the PC and the Windows platform remains a
central catalyst for the advances of the Digital Decade. According to Gates, the
company has sold more than 100 million Windows Vista licenses to date.


“Windows has unlocked the power of personal computing for more than 25
years,” said Gates. “Now we are expanding Windows to go where you want to go and
do what you want to do on PCs, the Web, and mobile devices.  The result is
connected experiences that extend across people’s lives, interests and
communities, at home and at work.”

For example, a new version of Tellme, Microsoft’s integrated voice-and-visual
mobile service, enables people to use voice commands to say what they want and
see the answer on their phone’s screen. A person can “call” the Web on a mobile
phone and say “movies” and the software will recognize where the person is
located and send to that mobile phone’s screen, a list of the theaters closest
to that location. The new service uses Global Positioning System (GPS)
capabilities to identify the caller’s location, yielding results that are
significantly more relevant. Tellme is available today on AT&T Wireless and
Sprint phones and will be available in future versions of Windows Mobile. 
Furthermore, Microsoft gave an early glimpse of how future versions may also
offer the ability to purchase movie tickets from a mobile phone and share the
movie information with friends and family via a text message.

imageSource spoke to Microsoft’s Director of Multicultural Marketing, José
Pinera, on the show floor at CES. He elaborated on how technology and software
are improving the way in which people experience content or interactive
applications, including Tellme.

“Yes,when you want the closest Starbucks, Tellme will search the Internet and
connect through GPS for location. Eleven million phones have been sold so far
with this innovative technology.”

At CES, Robbie Bach, Microsoft President, Entertainment and Devices Division,
demonstrated a voice-activated technology for automobiles, including Sync, a
fully integrated in-car communications and infotainment system for mobile phones
and digital music players (available in select Ford models since September ’07).
Ford Motor Co., which expects to sell more than one million vehicles with Sync
by early ‘09, unveiled the new 911 Assist feature that connects drivers with
emergency services.

According to Pinera, “This is the car of the future. When these innovative
features are added they will assist in increasing auto sales.” These examples
indicated the growing prevalence of more natural user interfaces. Pinera
confirmed that, “Microsoft will continue to heartily evolve natural user
interface, using sight, sound, touch, and voice activation technologies.”

Supporting ECM

While Microsoft has been shaping the future of software solutions for
decades, venturing more and more into document solutions, imageSource posed
questions to the company on key programs, including SharePoint, XPS, Microsoft
Office Suite, and others, and how well they have been implemented in the
document technology channel.

Specifically, is Microsoft working with the office equipment channel as the
on ramp to SharePoint DM integration? If so, with the recent updates in
SharePoint Server, how do multifunction system and scanner resellers  integrate
MSPS into their solutions?

Many in our industry are already realizing the successful impact of Microsoft
SharePoint, and the continued influence of compliance, which will indeed remain
hot topics in ECM as businesses venture further in to 2008.

Industry ECM expert John Mancini, President of AIIM, told imageSource, “Let
me answer your question on the entry of Microsoft SharePoint as a serious player
in the document and records infrastructure marketplace. This is one of the most
important developments in evangelizing these technologies that we have ever
seen.  Suppliers and consultants will debate what MOSS can do and what it
can’t.  But it won’t matter; it will spread like kudzu through the end user
community.” As always, Mancini gets to the (Share) point.

A Microsoft spokesperson shared with imageSource on features  of the product:
“Partner companies are now able to not only create a more comprehensive solution
for customers, but often spend less time coding, and more time developing
special services, which is where the money is these days for many of our
partners. One example of this is where ECM has partnered with us to deliver
document management solutions that use both the Documentum product and
SharePoint’s enterprise content management capabilities.” And customers could
consider MOSS when their needs include one or multiples of these following

  • Extend the platform for collaboration to other solutions like
    enterprise-wide portals and Internet-facing content sites.
  • Give people access to people, documents and information, with rich search
    capabilities that span workgroups, collaborative workspaces, portals, LOB
    records, structured and unstructured data.
  • Extended and enhanced content management capabilities, including
    ready-to-use workflow applications, document management policies, PowerPoint
    slide libraries, and auditing.
  • Broad availability of data driven reports and spreadsheets, giving one
    common view for fact-based decision making.
  • User profiling, audience targeting of content and application items, and
  • Integrated navigation and categorization of collaborative workspaces, and
    site directories.

Notably, Microsoft’s revenue for SharePoint surpassed the $800 million mark
in fiscal 2007. While those involved in the ECM industry realize that the
product does not offer a complete ECM solution, early adopters are embracing the
collaboration and file-sharing capabilities that Microsoft has wrapped in the
familiar Office interface. A strategic advantage for VARs and integrators lies
in being able to educate their/your customers on the role that SharePoint can
play as part of an overall ECM strategy.

Spokespersons for Microsoft explained that the document management
capabilities in the Microsoft integrated ECM solution can help organizations
consolidate diverse content from multiple file shares and personal drives into a
centrally managed repository. “The platform is to enable businesses to
streamline content-driven, collaborative business processes by providing the
tools for automating the tasks of these (processes). Electronic forms solutions
provide a mechanism for gathering and validating input for these business
processes across Web sites, mobile devices, and Microsoft Office system
programs. The ECM solution helps manage the entire lifecycle of unstructured
content, from creation to expiration, on a single unified platform. These
capabilities include document management, records management, Web content
management, and forms solutions.”

Supporting Workflow

imageSource wanted to know more on the advantages of XPS, (XML Paper
Specification), which is now an integral part of Microsoft’s newest operating
system, Windows Vista, and is an XML-based format designed to support electronic
paper workflows on computers and devices.

Microsoft’s team of experts responded with, “Because of XPS’s integration
with the Windows platform, IT administrators are benefiting  from savings in
costs and a reduction in the complexity of deployed solutions. XPS also enables
more efficient document workflows that span devices and computers by providing a
common format that avoids the need for conversions between document format,
printing spool file and (PDL) page description language. In addition, XPS
benefits IT administrators with reduced requirements for additional
installation, tracking of licenses and maintenance contracts, and in improved
integration with popular solutions such as Microsoft’s SharePoint Server.”

imageSource asked document consultants Darrell Amy of Dealer Marketing
Systems, and Randy Dazo of InfoTrends, if they had any questions regarding our
channel for Microsoft.  They asked: “A majority of printed documents are
generated with Microsoft Office applications. What new aspects of Microsoft
Office should printer and multifunction system resellers be aware of?  And what
should business users consider with their next printer/MFP device purchase, as
it relates to XPS?”

Addressing these questions, Microsoft started by recommending that users
first ask themselves the following questions before buying the next printer or
MFP device: 

1. “Does the device support XPS printing?” Microsoft recommends consumers to
look for devices with the ‘Windows Premium Logo.’ Devices with this logo have
gone through a Microsoft standards and testing program to help ensure their
compatibility with Windows Vista and its features. 

2. “Does the device support scan to XPS?” If not available on current models,
ask the vendor if they are able to commit to future updates to add XPS support.

The 2007 Microsoft Office system also provides support for XPS, which is
available both to users and developers. In regard to penetration of XPS in
business, Microsoft admitted that they don’t track these numbers and don’t know
of any analyst focusing specifically on XPS penetration.

Analysts Amy and Dazo inquired of Microsoft: “What other specific
workflow/process automation solutions in the Microsoft Suite would be valuable
for multifunction system resellers to explore selling?”

The company spokesperson said, “VISIO. Here’s why. Microsoft Office Visio
2007 makes it easy for IT and business professionals to visualize, explore and
communicate complex information. You can go from complicated text and tables
that are hard to understand to Visio diagrams that communicate information at a
glance. Instead of static pictures, you can create data-connected Visio diagrams
that display data, are easy to refresh, and which can dramatically increase
productivity. With the wide variety of diagrams to act on, you can share
information about organizational systems, resources, and processes throughout
your enterprise.

Microsoft Partners for Summer Olympics

With entrepreneurial flair for adapting to “current affairs,” and in terms
of offering richer content on the Internet, Bill Gates announced that Microsoft
would be developing a Web site for NBC's coverage of the 2008 Summer Olympics.
This partnership will raise the bar for live and on-demand Internet broadcasting
through an exclusive agreement where Microsoft and NBC will deliver
NBCOlympics.com on MSN, the official U.S. online home for the event. In the
first “long-tail” Olympics, online viewers will have access to more than 3,000
hours of live and on-demand content so they can watch their favorite athlete or
sport, regardless of whether the sport has fifty fans or fifteen million. The 
Web site will be available for free and powered by Microsoft Silverlight
technology, a cross-browser, cross-platform plug-in for generating rich Internet
applications and the delivery of high-quality video on the Web.

Still speaking from the CES show, José Pinera elaborated on the strategic
alliances which included entertainment companies. “These alliances are intended
to demonstrate how technology and software are improving the way in which people
experience content, especially interactively. Our alliance with NBC Universal
allows people options. Watch live or at your leisure, on-demand. If you want to
re-watch favorite Olympic moments, you will have the opportunity to see them.”

“The Silverlight technology will provide an enhanced video experience on the
Web,” insists Pinera. “This is exciting because it has an improved resolution or
definition of viewing, rather than what is available today.”

Adding Entertainment Alliances

Pinera went on to add that Microsoft has a partnership with ABC, Disney
Channel, and MGM, who are bringing their library of movies and TV shows to Xbox
Live programming, available for download directly to the Xbox 360 console. “Most
know Xbox as a video game platform but it is actually a full entertainment
platform. It has the largest high definition library of more movies and content
than any other provider, including cable companies,” remarked Pinera. 

With more than 10 million Xbox LIVE members and more than 3,500 hours of
premium content, Xbox 360 has established itself as a premier platform for
on-demand TV shows and movies.

“Halo 3, available only through Xbox, is the single most successful video
game to date,” adds Pinera. “Halo 3 had the biggest opening weekend in
entertainment history, out-grossing top movie hits such as Spiderman 3 and
Pirates of the Carribean. So in terms of our gaming platform, Xbox 360 is on
track as having the biggest year in video game history, period.”

In addition, the Showtime Network and Turner Broadcasting System’s TNT and
CNN networks all introduced new TV applications capable of delivering the most
advanced digital TV services on the Microsoft Mediaroom Internet Protocol
Television (IPTV) platform, which is enabling over 20 of the world’s leading
broadband service providers to deliver advanced digital TV services today.

Microsoft said Samsung Electronics Company will support Extender for Windows
Media Center, enabling televisions to stream HD content from any Windows
Vista-based PC with Windows Media Center over a wired or dual-band Wireless-N
home network. This partnership builds on strong momentum and a growing set of
online services, including the recent beta release of Windows Media Center
Internet TV, which offers more than 100 hours of ad-supported entertainment from
MSN Video, including full-length shows, music concerts and movie trailers. And
the capabilities list goes on.

Bill Gates, for his part, has envisioned a world without end for the
advancement of technology to change the way we live, entertain, and conduct
business.  As for the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions,
Microsoft insists that they will continue to help people and businesses realize
their full potential. I believe Microsoft and Bill do mean business, but do
wonder if Gates will come out of “retirement” early, missing all the excitement
of being hands-on at the helm, leading the ‘team’ on to new innovations as Chief

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