"Modeling is something youre going to hear more and more from us about," Gates told an audience of financial analysts and media at the companys campus here Thursday.
"Its modeling thats going to greatly simplify applications customization," he said. "The place were using it mostly today is to describe how two pieces of software relate to each other."
At last years financial analyst meeting, Gates described how Microsoft would be focusing on modeling in its developer tools.
Since then, Microsoft announced its Whitehorse technology, which features support for modeling, and last May announced Visual Studio 2005 Team System (VSTS), which features the Whitehorse technology and includes deep support for modeling, as well as addressing more of the application development life cycle. VSTS is expected to be delivered next year.
Gates on Thursday spoke of modeling as one of the advances Microsoft is making in its research arm.
"Modeling is the idea of declaring what something should do, whether its a business process or computer system," he said. "Its simply having the rules and constraints for that behavior and expecting the software to figure out how to do that without being told in such an explicit way," he added.
For instance, "If we want to test a large piece of software, the best way to do it is to test individual components," Gates said. "But in order to do that, you have to understand all of the rich ways that other software calls into those components. And theres never been a way of modeling that. Weve created a rich, new specification language called SpecChart that lets us do that."
In delving deeper into the world of modeling technology, Microsoft is taking IBMs Rational division head on in a space where Rational has been a leader for years.
Gates said Microsofts new direction "really moves us up on the high end" of the development spectrum.