Ballmer tells of 'New World of Work' at TechEd

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer at the Microsoft TechEd 2005 conference in Orlando touted the theme of a "New World of Work" focused on information access, business processes, and collaboration.

Microsoft's job in this paradigm is to provide developers and IT personnel with the tools they need to drive business success, Ballmer said. "It's a world in which the information worker, the employee in each of the companies that you serve, is at the center," Ballmer said.

The morning presentation noted developments in products such as Visual Studio, MOM (Microsoft Operations Manager), and Microsoft Windows Mobile. Among the demos presented, Microsoft showed a MOM console detecting a staged equipment issue in a server running Sun Microsystems's Solaris operating system. This was a departure by Microsoft from a Microsoft-centric world, according to one analyst. The demo featured system management via Web services and the WS-Management specification.

"Microsoft has always been about, 'We'll help you manage Microsoft,'" said Frank Gillette, principal analyst at Forrester Research. "Now, they're showing some capabilities to manage other people's [systems]."

Ballmer in his presentation emphasized business opportunities including optimizing supply chains, spotting trends, finding the right information, personal productivity, and improving customer interaction.

"Each of these [opportunities] is still unfulfilled today," Ballmer said.

Security also is a major need, he said. "We have made security job 1 over the last three or four years," Ballmer said.

To this end, Microsoft plans to deliver secure mobile messaging via a combination of Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 Service Pack 2 and the Messaging and Security Feature Pack for Windows Mobile 5.0. Organizations will be able to push e-mail and information in Outlook from Exchange Server to Windows Mobile devices.

A demo featuring exchange Server 2003 and Windows Mobile 5.0 during the presentation showed how a lost Windows Mobile cell phone could have its vital information wiped for security purposes.

Other product plans also were touched upon, including "Maestro," which will bring rich application data and reporting services to business users when the SQL Server 2005 database is released. The database is due by the end of this year.

Delivery of SDM (System Definition Model), a modeling language to express knowledge across the application lifecycle, is planned for Visual Studio 2005 Team System later this year. SDM enables collaboration on application development early in the development phase.

With its lifecycle tools, Microsoft is taking a run at competitor Rational, which is now part of IBM. "This is a year where I say, watch out Rational, because I think we have some big breakthroughs," Ballmer said.

Ballmer also discussed the planned .Net Framework 2.0 for Visual Studio 2005 and process orchestration capabilities in BizTalk Server 2006.

The upcoming first beta of the Longhorn version of Windows, meanwhile, will feature advances in security and deployment, including integrated anti-malware to shield PCs from threats. Also included will be user account protection to reduce the threat of malicious code and service hardening technology to help protect personal data.

Ballmer announced availability of Windows Server Update Services and Microsoft Update as well as the planned summer releases of Microsoft Baseline Security Analyzer 2.0 and System Management Server 2003 Inventory Tool for Microsoft. These offerings are intended to provide customers with a set of technologies for managing software updates.

A new version of Windows Update, identified as version 6.0, is planned to enable Windows users to keep computers updated. Featured are minor usability improvements and eventual support for Windows Genuine Advantage. The Genuine Advantage program, according to information on Microsoft's Web site, is intended to increase customer awareness by highlighting the value of genuine software over counterfeit or pirated installations.

The upcoming Visual Studio 2005 tools for the Microsoft Office System, due this fall, will provide deeper integration with Outlook and support for Outlook managed code, company officials said. This will enable developers to build custom line-of-business applications on top of Microsoft Office. The newly announced Microsoft Office Open XML Formats, which are XML file formats for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, also were noted.

Microsoft in one slide also stressed that the company offers an advantage in developing lightweight applications over the popular open source LAMP (Linux Apache MySQL PHP/Perl/Python) stack. Microsoft's work with Sun on WS* Web services specifications also was cited.

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Paul Krill

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