Gates sang SharePoints praises Friday during his keynote address at the first Office System Developer Conference. Microsoft made his keynote available via Webcast.
"My favorite Office thing today is how SharePoint is being used for collaboration," Gates told the 800 ISV representatives attending the three-day event at Microsofts Redmond, Wash., headquarters. "SharePoint is one of the most underutilized assets of the Office system."
There are two Microsoft products that share the SharePoint name. SharePoint Services—the Web-based team collaboration environment that Microsoft has decided it will build into future versions of Windows, starting with Windows Server "R2," due out next year—is the base-level SharePoint product.
SharePoint Portal Server (SPPS) builds on top of SharePoint Services and provides indexing and management tools for SharePoint-based sites.
Microsoft claims that SharePoint Portal Server is one of its fastest-selling products of all time. According to Microsoft estimates, there already are more than 350 software vendors and 180 systems integrators reselling SharePoint-based solutions.
Microsoft officials have characterized SharePoint as "the killer app for XML."
Demonstrating to developers how they can make use of the SharePoint Web parts and its APIs in designing their own applications was a key theme of this weeks Office devcon.
Gates told keynote attendees to expect Microsoft to more tightly integrate SharePoint with other Microsoft technologies and point products going forward. He said to expect SharePoint and ASP (Active Server Pages) to "become closer," and SharePoint and SQL Server to become more entwined as well.