Microsoft plots out focus for future

Microsoft has recently mapped out important technology innovations that it expects will drive its business in the future

Microsoft is working harder to pinpoint important innovations that will drive its business, Microsoft's CEO, Steve Ballmer, said on Wednesday.

Historically, Microsoft has had an "ad hoc" way of determining what might be important innovations that could impact its business in the future, Ballmer said, speaking at Microsoft's IT Pro Town Hall Event in Redmond. But this year for the first time the company decided to formally research and record what it thought would change in technology in the next five to ten years and then decide how the company might lead those trends, he said.

The Microsoft researchers reported to Ballmer with 70 items -- far more than he was expecting. They then boiled them down into six categories, including the future of productivity; entertainment; business; IT and data center; software development; and the future of Windows, including the user interface.

Across all of those categories was an overriding evolution of software from being a product to being an interwoven product and service, Ballmer said.

An example of one of the individual ideas that Microsoft believed would shape the future was the transition of reading and writing from the predominantly analog entertainment of today, meaning that it involved paper and pencil, to a mostly digital environment, he said.

Notably missing from at least the broader categories are a focus on security and the evolution of search and online advertising, topics that are likely to remain important for Microsoft in the coming years.

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