The announcement of beta two marks a milestone for the Redmond, Wash., software maker, which will be underscored in Gates keynote, Faenov said, where he will stress the companys long-term commitment to high-performance computing as well as to a broader technical and scientific computing area. There are three main pillars for Microsoft: business computing, consumer computing and now technical and scientific computing, an area in which there is room for many software advances, Faenov said.Gates will also point to the need for software to help scientists and researchers focus on their work and not on the underlying IT, he said.Microsoft officials first announced its plans to enter the HPC software market in June 2004 and said at that time that the product would be specifically designed for customers running scalable, parallel computing workloads in vertical market segments such as engineering, life sciences and finance. Company officials such as CEO Steve Ballmer have also admitted that Linux is ahead in the area of high-performance computing, but have said Microsofts staff comes to work every day looking at how to offer customers an even better solution. Click here to read Ballmers remarks on HPC and his vision for the midmarket segment. Gates will also talk about Microsofts multimillion-dollar investments in, and multi-year commitment to, 10 Institutes for High Performance Computing around the globe, where it is creating funded research positions at existing facilities such as the University of Utah, the Cornell Theory Center, the University of Stuttgart, Germany, and the Tokyo Institute of Technology. "The centers we chose have a unique blend of expertise as they do research in HPC systems and, in many cases, are closely affiliated with a HPC center, giving them a unique insight from both a scientific and industry perspective on what will actually help solve real problems," Faenov said. The agreements with Microsoft will see the staff at these centers deploy its HPC and other products and then work with Microsoft staff to explore and maximize its product roadmap going forward, he said. Looking to the next release of the product, Faenov said those plans remain on track. He previously told eWEEK that the development team will also continue to invest in making clusters easier to manage, particularly as their use moves away from centralized resources and down to the workgroup level. Microsoft also planned to work on improving the user experience through better power management and use of the IPMI (Intelligent Platform Management Interface) or Web services management to reboot clusters without having to power down, Faenov said. "[The second version] will look at how we can control the hardware using the standard ways of rebooting. We will also look at how we can make the integration of clusters into the applications, including workstation applications, even easier. We are also looking at performance monitoring tools for the cluster space as a whole, which is a big area for development," he said previously. Check out eWEEK.coms for Microsoft and Windows news, views and analysis.