Meanwhile, Gates said that an improved version of SharePoint will become a standard platform for collaboration in the same way Microsofts Word and Excel have become de facto standards for document creation.
SharePoint "is something that youll assume people just know," Gates said. "Getting people to collaborate inside your organization with that capability just becomes common sense. Youll take for granted that people are setting these up and using them."
While Microsofts trio of 2007 products, such as Vista, add numerous new features, Gates said they wouldnt be possible without advances in hardware, including the move from 32-bits to 64-bits in processors—a transition that mainly makes it possible to add more memory to a computer—and multicore processors, which combine two or more processor cores into a single chip.
Other elements are also coming together, including increases in network bandwidth and the advent of large, yet inexpensive LCD screens.
"The innovation feeds on itself. Its led to record sales of Windows PCs over 250 million this year; thats more than a 10 percent increase, coming up from last year," Gates said.
It will not be without challenges, including creating more highly multithreaded software, which will be better able to take advantage of multicore processors.
But "Were very excited about the things we can come up with here to take things to a new level," Gates said.
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