Wrapping up the company's business partner show here Monday, Microsoft chairman and chief software architect Bill Gates said that the productivity the business world has seen to date is only the beginning, and Web services will deliver new enhancements.
Continuing his theme that the first 10 years of this century will be the Digital Decade, Gates told the audience that to make Web services work, the company's partners, like Microsoft itself, need to bet on the model and stick with it.
"We're just at the beginning of what can be done with digital technology," he said.
He pointed to long-term projects, specifically the TabletPC, which Microsoft will have invested 8 years and $US1 billion on by the time it ships next year, as products that will increase productivity.
He also said that new versions of current Microsoft products will be tailored for Web services, namely Office XP, Windows XP, SQL Server, and Visual Studio.NET. Although they already have support for XML Web services, Gates said Microsoft will continue to evolve that.
"The next round of software is more profound. It's getting XML to the very core of the products," he said.
He said that the advantages of XML Web services in Office XP alone will include business forecast and planning, more control of documents, and enhanced storing capabilities for documents.
When Windows XP ships in late October, it will include single-sign on functionality to help users more easily get at the services their individual set of services. Gates called Windows XP the biggest change the company has made since Windows 95.
"In productivity, we have a long way to go," he continued.
He added that Microsoft's research and development budget will increase this year despite the economic downturn.
Gates wound down the speech by saying that Web services will not require a full-fledged about-face in the corporate infrastructure.
"This is not an era where we're saying rip-and-replace -- quite the opposite," he said. Gates added that companies get the best of both worlds because they can wrap their existing systems in XML without rewriting the code, and they can take advantage of the new, highly distributed computing model where data is easily available.
Meanwhile, some of the third parties present at the show made announcements involving .NET.
Data Return and Vertigo Software aligned to support the Visual Studio.NET CodeSwap Web site, which provides Visual Studio developers with a place to connect to each other to publish and find source code snippets that can then be reused.
Last month at its TechEd developer conference, Microsoft added support for swapping code to the second beta of Visual Studio.NET.
On Friday, a number of Microsoft partners agreed to support Share Point Portal Server, Microsoft's portal server for document management, by integrating it into their own products. Among the supporters are Software AG, Citrix Systems, Aimware, InfoImage, and Webridge.