The opening keynote address was delivered here by Bob Muglia, the senior vice president of Microsofts server and tools business; Chris Capossela, the corporate vice president of the Information Worker Product Management group; and Ray Ozzie, the companys chief technical officer.
They all took the stage to elucidate Microsofts vision of the infrastructure for the People-Ready Business, which is what Microsoft sees as an end-to-end portfolio of IT products, technologies, services and resources that the company hopes will empower IT professionals and development teams across the IT lifecycle.
In line with its theme of people and partners working together, Muglia rolled a video from multinational consumer product manufacturer Unilever during the keynote which showed how this happens in the real world.
Unilever wants Microsoft to help move its business forward, and regards information as the most important thing to the company after technology, with complexity "not the challenge but the enemy," the company said in the video presentation.
Unilever also wanted technology to be less about the back-end and more about getting products in front of the consumer. People were the enabler of business success, and the technology was critical in enabling those partnerships, the company said.
In an interview ahead of the keynote address, Bob Kelley, the general manager of infrastructure marketing at Microsoft, told eWEEK that "we believe that there is great value in building an integrated stack, where there is one framework that has many workload solutions within it.
"This is a long-term commitment from us and is not a marketing campaign. We are committed to designing our products and solutions on a workload by workload basis," he said.
This new focus has become the mandate for Microsofts own engineering teams to build against and give customers the assurance that there would be a bottoms-up workload focus, as well as a top-down promise from Microsoft executives to deliver on this, he said.
"There has been a significant shift within Microsoft to acknowledge that this is the way customers use products, and that led us to a different way of looking at this. IT pros and customers dont buy products—they buy solutions and that is now core to our strategy," he said.
Asked when the shift towards this workload focus started at Microsoft, Kelley said around four years ago at the start of the Longhorn product planning process.
That involved reorienting the engineering team to become more workload oriented and, at the same time, teaming them with marketing people to look at competition and the dynamics of each of those.
This focus was then extended to its sales organization as well, he said.
Microsofts Common Engineering Criteria was the basis for this and at this years Tech Ed, it will publish the new Windows Server System Common Engineering Criteria for infrastructure software produced in 2007.
Ozzie articulated Microsofts strategy for services in the enterprise, while Capossela gave a demonstration of Windows Vista beta 2 running along with the upcoming Office 2007 System and highlighted how this can help customers make better, faster decisions.
In his keynote, Capossela said unified communications and collaboration was one component of the strategy, along with enterprise content management and business intelligence.
This will all be delivered through Microsofts Office 2007 System, in products like Office Sharepoint Server 2007 and Office Enterprise 2007, the engineering of which is on track to be completed by October 2006, Capossela said.
"Microsoft, unlike its competitors like IBM and Google, is building an and strategy rather than an or one," Kelley said before the keynote, noting that Big Blue promoted outsourcing, while Googles was "all in the cloud."
"We believe that customers want choice. They want products that are extended by services, stable products that offer workload by workload solutions and a platform that is consumable by developers as a service-oriented architecture as well as cloud based.
"Not everything will be hosted of course; this will also be determined on a workload by workload basis where appropriate," Kelley said.
Editors Note: This story was updated to include information and comments from Microsoft executives.