Ballmer Beats Drum for IT Workers

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2005-06-06

Ballmer Beats Drum for IT Workers

ORLANDO, Fla.—There has never been a more exciting time to be in information technology than right now, and the rate of innovation and impact that IT will have on the world over the next decade will be larger than its impact in the past 10 years, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer told attendees Monday at the sold-out Tech Ed conference here.

In his opening keynote address to several thousand attendees, titled "Enabling People to Drive Business Success," Ballmer said all of them had "got through the dot-com bubble and bust and are now in a period of sustained growth for our industry."

This upbeat view is backed up by the fact that more than 11,000 people are attending this years Tech Ed, with the show selling out earlier than ever before, Ballmer said. For Microsoft, he added, this year also marks the 10-year anniversary of Windows 95.

"I expect the next 10 years to be even more exciting," Ballmer said, admitting that challenges also exist, and that one of them is helping IT managers assist others with working more productively.

This new world of work includes improving customer satisfaction, improving personal productivity, finding the right information and engaging in the business process, Ballmer said.

"We know that there are pain points out there that are felt by information workers," he said. "So, if we at Microsoft and all of you are really going to do our job, we have to allow them to really engage. Microsoft has to give you the tools to enable this new style of work."

Read more here about Bill Gates views on this new world of work.

Ballmer was interrupted by Samantha Bee, the anchor of an imaginary morning IT show called "The Techie Show," who listed the top five things information workers want.

These are: one identity and password; the ability to see the online presence of others who are available; network access; synchronization across all devices; and collaboration with others outside the company. The standard response from IT pros to these demands, she said, has been a simple "no can do."

Saying that Microsoft Corp. has work to do on these fronts, Ballmer said the company had been working hard on its .Net infrastructure for more than five years now. He thanked .Net developers around the world who are designing and building applications.

The applications must be up and running for information workers, and Microsofts Dynamic Systems Initiative is approaching an important milestone with the release of Visual Studio 2005 this year, he said. Visual Studio 2005 builds management and instrumentation into every application, but this is an area that needs more core infrastructure, Ballmer said.

Part of this infrastructure is delivered through applications such as Office, Outlook and Exchange. Information workers must have access to the information they need without compromise, and this must be a goal despite the challenges of security and remote access, he said.

Next Page: A self-service infrastructure.


-Service"> More and more of this infrastructure also has to be self-service, Ballmer said, with tools such as SharePoint Team Services already facilitating this.

"More and more of what you provide can be infrastructure that IT workers can extend and provision themselves. But whatever is done in this area has to be deeply grounded in policy, so that the IT professional is given management control," he said.

Shared Infrastructure Services involves presence, identity, rights management and network access, he said, with Active Directory—the most widely used directory—acting as a building block for its foundation.

Microsoft has been very successful with Active Directory, he said. "When we first brought it to market, you were slow to adopt it and sent us back to work on it. It is now the tool for single sign-on—administer your networks and get policy to work for you. It is the tool for smartcard and two-factor authentication," Ballmer said.

Microsoft is investing in Active Directory Federation Services and will ship its Windows Server 2003 RC2 in the next 12 months.

"Scott McNealy, now my best friend," he quipped, took to the stage recently to demonstrate interoperability between Microsoft and Sun Microsystems Inc. "OK, so I took a little poetic license about our friendship," Ballmer joked.

Click here to read more about the technical cooperation between Microsoft and Sun Microsystems.

Coming this year is Windows Server 2003 R2, which will bring innovation on the branch, ADS (Automated Deployment Services) and storage fronts, as well as the Compute Cluster Edition with distributed task scheduler. Virtualization capabilities also will be built into the server itself over the next few years, Ballmer said.

Microsoft also announced a set of enhancements to Exchange, with Exchange 2003 SP2 (Service Pack 2) and the Messaging and Security Feature Pack for Windows Mobile 5.0, which will enable up-to-date e-mail with direct push, a built-in feature of Exchange that pushes e-mail down to devices wirelessly.

The feature pack also will give the ability to control policy on those mobile devices at no additional licensing costs since it is built into Exchange, Ballmer said.

Mike Hall, technical product manager for the mobile and embedded group, took to the stage with a new Lenovo ThinkPad tablet, which was just announced Monday. Hall demonstrated how it can be used to manage, configure and erase data on a mobile device.

Read more here about the Lenovo Groups ThinkPad X140 tablet.

Bringing up the Longhorn desktop and going to his document folder, Hall showed attendees how theyll be able to filter content by author or keyword, and use the zoom feature to get a direct look inside any document.

Next Page: Building .Net momentum.

Ballmer Beats Drum for IT Workers - Page 3

.Net Momentum"> A completely Web-based map application from MapPoint, called Virtual Earth, gives location, maps and a scratch pad where this info can be stored and e-mailed to others.

Returning to the stage, Ballmer turned to worldwide .Net momentum, saying that .Net is the primary development tool for 43 percent of all developers, with Java in second place at 35 percent.

SQL Server 2005, with more than 50 percent unit share, will continue to be ramped up; BizTalk Server 2006 and Visual Studio 2005 will take .Net to the next level; and life-cycle development tools are added into the equation, so "watch out, Rational," Ballmer said.

XML formats will be adopted as the default in Office 12, the next version of Office, which is part of Microsofts commitment to XML integration across all of its products, Ballmer said.

"In summary then, DSI [the Dynamic Systems Initiative] is about getting serious about management and to express knowledge in the models," Ballmer said.

"Visual Studio 2005 will deliver System Definition Model, and system center wave two will see its System Definition Model consumed by MOM [Microsoft Operations Manager] and SMS [Short Message Service]."

Finally, Ballmer turned to the issue of security. "We still have this absolutely as job one. If we dont do the right thing with security, the notion of connecting people and information will take a back seat," he said, adding that although Microsoft is not satisfied with Windows Server 2003 with regards to security, it was "by far and away" the best server release from the company, he said.

Windows Server 2003 has had only one vulnerability to date this year, while SuSE 9 has had 28 and Red Hat 3 has had 14, he said.

Ballmer also announced the immediate availability of Windows Server Update Services and Microsoft Update, as well as the Microsoft Baseline Security Analyzer 2.0 and the Systems Management Server 2003 Inventory Tool for Microsoft, which will be available this summer.

These product offerings will allow Microsoft to provide customers with a uniquely integrated and consistent set of technologies to help customers of all types better manage the software-update process, he said.

Microsoft also will release a new version of Windows Update, version 6.0, to ensure that customers who continue using Windows can keep their computers up to date. This adds minor usability improvements and eventually will support Windows Genuine Advantage.

In conclusion, Ballmer said Microsoft is committed to providing "the leading-edge innovations to make you successful in connecting your information to your users."

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