Reaching for the midmarket, Gates introduces the former "Project Green" and discusses the Office 12 timetable at the company's Business Summit.
REDMOND, Wash.Microsoft executives on Wednesday formally announced the role-based Microsoft Dynamics initiative, formerly known by the code name Project Green, as well as confirming that Office 12 was on track to ship in 2006, even though it has not yet gone into beta testing.
The announcements came as the software giant hosts some 700 of its partners and customers at its campus here for its Business Summit, which is designed to aggressively promote the software giants push into the midmarket segment.
Orlando Ayala, Microsoft Corp.s senior vice president for the Small and Midmarket Solutions & Partner Group, told attendees in his opening remarks here that the theme of the Summit was, "Together we build business."
The midmarket is a unique market and, from Microsofts perspective, is defined as those companies with between 50 and 1,000 employees, Ayala said.
There are some 1.4 million such companies globally, which represent 31 percent of the global economy and are growing at 7 percent annually, he said.
"We at Microsoft believe in role-based software, and Office is leading the charge in that regard," Ayala said, before introducing Bill Gates, Microsofts chairman and chief software architect.
Gates took to the stage and first off expressed his concern and sympathy for the victims of Hurricane Katrina, but pointed to all the people and technology companies that had rallied around them and were helping in the effort.
Read more here about Microsofts efforts to help Hurricane Katrina victims.
Gates then described the key developments that he said were driving technology forward, including the rapid growth in the performance of the "Wintel" technologies, in which processors were becoming ever faster and with more memory.
"We also have faster disk drives, with the cost of hardware coming down and performance rising. The performance of Windows on Intel machines is unbelievable, and weve seen this with 64-bit computing
and in the database," Gates said.
Gates added that the adoption of XML as a data format has also brought unprecedented new capabilities, and Web services are allowing new ways for software pieces to connect to one another.
There has also been more digitization of the economy every year, but a new generation of software is necessary to bring all of this together, he said.
Microsofts research and development spending on the basic platform around Windows, Office and the companys new role-based Dynamics initiative had been increased to a record level, he said, before formally announcing Microsoft Dynamics, formerly known by the code name Project Green.
Click here to read more about Microsoft Dynamics, formerly known as "Project Green."
Microsoft Dynamics will be rolled out in phases, Gates said, starting with Microsofts CRM software, the first to use this new name.
"We are talking about, and incorporating, role-based software in very broad terms. This brings the ability to define roles, then go in and edit them," he said, adding that Office plays a crucial role in this regard.
In a demonstration of the upcoming Microsoft CRM 3.0, which uses Office as the platform in a role-based way, it was shown how the Microsoft CRM Outlook client allows all CRM data to be accessed without leaving Outlook, and a SharePoint Portal site could be viewed right from Outlook.
The demonstration also showed how data could be moved to a live and continually updated pivot table directly from its CRM application. Also on view was the new Quick Campaign feature in the next version of the CRM software, which allows users to customize and target quick marketing or sales campaigns to staff, assigning tasks and then allowing these to be tracked.
Gates shares the release schedule for "Centro" and Office 12.