Microsofts Office of the Future Gets a Makeover

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2006-05-12 Print this article Print

The Center for Information Work is designed to show how individual productivity can be enhanced using software and tools developed at Microsoft.

REDMOND, Wash.—Microsoft in May unveiled the third update to its Center for Information Work, a prototype facility dedicated to exploring how future software developments could empower information workers going forward. More than 25,000 people have visited the CIW since it was first opened in 2002, with an additional 10,000 visitors expected in the coming year, said CIW group product manager Tom Gruver at a recent media tour of the facility.
The last high-profile guest to tour the CIW was Chinese President Hu Jintao during his April visit to the Microsoft campus here, Gruver said, noting that Microsoft will continue to update scenarios in the CIW to reflect new software-based productivity concepts and feedback from customers.
"With the CIW we want to show how individual productivity can be enhanced and how we are working on building the right tools to enable this. It is all about great access to data, a lot of business intelligence, and team collaboration resulting in better team outcomes," he said. Those who tour the 3,500-square-foot CIW get a glimpse of some of the experimental technologies that Microsoft envisions will reach the market in the next five to seven years, including seamless synchronization across a new generation of devices. Also on display is the use of natural interfaces such as gesture recognition, voice, pen and ink, and smart work surfaces; as well as pattern-recognition capabilities that will enable the software to deduce the users activity from context clues and automatically configure the interface and information environment with tools and content appropriate to that activity. Peter Coffee says gesture recognition is not yet ready for prime time. Click here to read more. Those who take the tour play the part of employees in a fictitious company, Trey Pharmaceuticals, and are tasked with taking a potential new drug all the way through the FDA approval process to manufacturing using these software-based productivity tools of the future. This involves individual and collaborative work to resolve scheduling issues, compliance tasks, supply chain partnerships and other business process challenges. Trey Pharmaceutical "employees" are exposed to a number of potential future innovations, including security innovations to increase the reliability of authentication and simplify the process for users along with biometric characteristics like fingerprints, voice print, retinal scan, handwriting or typing patterns to authenticate users. Next Page: In the future.

Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.

He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.

He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.

He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.

He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.

He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.

His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.

For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at


Submit a Comment

Loading Comments...
Manage your Newsletters: Login   Register My Newsletters

Rocket Fuel