23 June 2000

Microsoft chairman Bill Gates yesterday introduced MicrosoftNet, the company’s strategic plan for the next several years, promising a new generation of software products designed to transform the internet and the manner in which computers are used.

He said that MicrosoftNet will focus all its development resources on making computers easier to use and enabling websites to interact. Over the next couple of years Microsoft will ship the "dot net" version of Windows and Office – as well as online services and software.

The internet, evangelised Gates, will be transformed from a "presentation medium into a much richer user experience”. Minor irrelevancies, such as the US government's current antitrust case which demands the bifurcation of Microsoft, went unmentioned during the elaborate technology presentations at the company’s Redmond, Washington, headquarters.

Gates refuted the legion of critics who charge that Microsoft has blocked others’ innovation, and itself failed to create innovative products: "The impact of the internet has been spectacular to date, but the pace of innovation will accelerate over the next five years," he said. By blending elements of its desktop software with internet technologies, Microsoft would make computers much easier to use.

A key element of company strategy is to make its top selling products – the Windows operating system and the Office suite of desktop applications – available as services via the internet.

Rosy promises, indeed, observed some analysts - but living up to them would be something else and could take longer than Microsoft hoped. In particular, plans to change fundamental elements of the Windows operating system were “very ambitious”.

News source: Financial Times