On The Horizon at Microsoft

Net Log John Makulowich

On The Horizon at Microsoft

REDMOND, Wash.

The general impression after two full days of briefings at Microsoft Corp. headquarters in Redmond, Wash., is that the mantra, "problem, solution, result," is alive and thriving among the twenty- and thirty-somethings of Bill Gates' corps of marketing mavens.

Whether that simplistic, unidimensional approach to dealing with business issues works for the company beyond peddling software is another question.

Aside from specific initiatives Microsoft has in store for the network administrator with NT 5.0 or the end user with a variety of applications, what interested me most was the next incarnation of the Office suite, specifically the integration with the Internet and the World Wide Web.

Clearly, the strategy is to use the Web as a collaboration platform, allowing users a two-way street for working on a range of publications, from word processing documents to PowerPoint presentations.

The focus is shifting to the act of synthesizing knowledge and the view of information as a corporate asset. And the paradigm of document creation follows these steps: collaborate, analyze, review, coordinate and conference.

You can see the value here for companies preparing proposals with remote staff in response to requests for proposals, or for the sales force in the field gathering data for client presentations.

Outside the world of the Web, my favorite presenter was Douglas Dedo, consumer applications group product manager, who covers Microsoft Windows CE, better known as Windows Lite.

Dedo defined it as "a general purpose OS for intelligent digital devices," Microsoft's third try in this space. The minimum kernel configuration is 300 kilobytes.

The range of tools and toys on which this operating system works is pretty impressive.

Dedo parsed the CE world into three sectors: PC companion devices, custom embedded devices and data devices.

Into the first category falls the personal digital assistant, akin to the Palm Pilot III, which, incidentally, does not use CE.

Among the more impressive gadgets in this group are the NEC MobilePro 750C and the Hitachi personal digital assistant.

The latter offers an easily attachable camera linked to a PCMCIA card, making this a handy tool for reporters.

The second category includes gambling machines, point-of-purchase equipment at retailers like J.C. Penney, and electronic menus for restaurants.

Presumably, with the electronic menu, if you are waiting in line for a table, you can see what the meal looks like, order and have your meal served soon after you are seated.

The last group consists of global positioning systems, digital video disks and Web phones, all of which are on the horizon but coming closer each day.

You can send John e-mail at john@journalist.com; his Web address is www.cais.com/makulow/.


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