The relationship between the PC and the phone is one of the areas where Microsoft expects big changes to take place. Advances need to include the accommodation of data, voice and video, as well as real-time communications (RTC). "You will see a lot of enhancements around RTC in Windows. We have also put together an Advanced Prototype PC, code-named Athens, with Hewlett-Packard," he said. The Athens PC has a built-in telephone linked to Microsofts productivity applications."The goal here is to have a consistent user experience and a consistent set of interfaces that make it simple and consistent for the user," he said. Using the system to listen to music, a user can take a call on a PC-enabled speakerphone, which immediately mutes the music and indicates presencethat the user is on the phone. An information page can then be displayed, pulling from Outlook all the callers contact details as well as information on previous notes and meetings. Users can also enable a "do not disturb" function that automatically sends incoming calls to voice mail, while still being able to screen those calls and see the callers details. Replies can be sent back to the caller through the PC. "Weve integrated telephony and have added value to your calls using the PC, turning it into one collaborative experience," Magendanz said. Gates also stressed Microsofts commitment to tools development, talking about how his company is building big advances into its tools like the .Net Compact Framework. Microsoft also has a road map for integrated lifecycle tools, including profiling, model checking, defect detection, and test prioritization and automation, he said.
Chad Magendanz, lead program manager for the hardware innovation group, said HP and Microsoft have been refining Athens to exercise hardware and software integration. "Our broader goal is to work with a wide variety of telephony and communications devices.