Gates message was a fitting one for the more than 5,000 partners and customers attending the conference. The annual Convergence event focuses on the business applications—ERP, CRM and retail—that Microsoft is hawking.
The digital workstyle issue is so top-of-mind for Gates that he is considering including it as part of his next book, he told attendees.
Gates said he and the co-author of "The Road Ahead," Microsoft corporate vice president Peter Rinearson, are kicking around ideas for a new book that theyd release sometime in the next 12 to 18 months. And digital workstyle and digital lifestyle are among the subjects they are considering, Gates said.
In his afternoon keynote, which closed the conference, Gates emphasized the ways that Microsoft is increasingly is integrating its platform, which these days includes not just Windows and .Net, but also Office and the MBS application suites.
Like other Microsoft officials who keynoted here, Gates highlighted Microsofts five new themes around which it is developing and marketing its integrated environment. These themes, "which we look at for our software development budget," Gates said, are: empowering users; making information more insightful; tightening the connections between applications and systems; creating adaptive processes; and providing the best total cost of ownership.
"Today, work is not as efficient as it can be," Gates said. "Looking ahead, business applications are at the center of the equation. They are the context in which so much is done. We see massive room for innovation."
Although he didnt mention "Project Green," which is Microsofts vision for how its family of business applications will evolve to better interoperate with Microsoft Office, SQL Server, SharePoint Portal Server and other Microsoft technologies, Gates did demo future versions of three "Greenified" versions of Microsofts business applications.
MBS managers put Great Plains 8.5, Axapta 3.0 and Microsoft CRM 2.0 through their paces during the course of Gates speech.
"We are building bridges between structured and unstructured work," Gates told attendees. "In business apps, you have very structured data. But then theres a whole other world of e-mail and documents. We will extend both Office and the [MBS] applications so the two can come together."
Gates committed to publish any extensions that Microsoft creates to facilitate the tighter integration of business applications and Office.