Returning to the venue where he launched his Microsoft career 21 years ago, company president and CEO Steve Ballmer last week told a gathering of industry executives that the Internet is 100 per cent backward from the way it will be 10 years from now.
Speaking at the PC Forum conference, Ballmer said the Internet now is in the control of Web site producers rather than end users. To change that paradigm, Microsoft will evolve as a company to deliver client software that is tightly integrated with Web services.
"Web sites and clients will integrate with intelligence in both places," Ballmer said.
This level of integration, he said, will raise new questions about what the definition of an operating system is when Web services need to span clients and servers.
"It's not clear where the business boundaries are in the new economy," Ballmer said. "But at the end of the day it has to be about making sure there are opportunities for us and our partners."
Microsoft will spend more than $4 billion on research and development this year, much of which will be focused on developing "mega-services" that will make it easier for end users to control exactly what content they want to access from any number of Web sites.
"The goal here is to make it easy for users to create their own myWorld' on the Internet," Ballmer said. "There is still a lot of hard R&D to be done."