Gates: Software will better support hardware

Maintaining that "software today does not take full advantage of capabilities offered by hardware," Microsoft Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates Tuesday showcased a number of upcoming products at the start of Microsoft's Windows Engineering Hardware Conference (WinHEC) in New Orleans.

On the desktop, the successor to Windows XP, code-named Longhorn, will take a leap forward and fully exploit graphics hardware, while in the data center Microsoft's recently announced Dynamic Data Center (DDC) will simplify data center management and application deployment, Gates said in a keynote address at the conference.

WinHEC is the annual conference where Microsoft tells hardware makers about its plans for the Windows operating system. In his presentation, Gates touched on Microsoft software for devices including watches, mobile phones, PDAs (personal digital assistants), desktop computers and high-end servers.

In one of the first presentations of DDC, Microsoft's data center product, a presenter deployed an application on to industry standard Hewlett-Packard (HP) servers and storage hardware with just a few clicks of the mouse.

The DDC is an important part of Microsoft's Dynamic Systems Initiative (DSI), the company's push into the data center. Like efforts underway at Sun Microsystems, HP and IBM, DSI aims to make it easier to deploy and manage software across large groups of servers and storage equipment. Microsoft first discussed its efforts in March, saying the various components would be rolled out over three to five years.

"The quality of applications will be much higher and the cost of running them will be much lower," Gates said.

Microsoft on Tuesday separately announced Fujitsu, IBM, NEC, Newisys have joined HP and Dell Computer as hardware partners for DSI.

On a stage cluttered with hardware, "Athens," a concept PC with a phone and video camera attached to a 23-inch flat-panel display, took a prime spot. The system, envisioned by Microsoft to replace standard office phones and video conferencing equipment, was created by Microsoft and HP.

"Really, Athens is a nexus for business communications," said Chad Magendanz, lead program manager for Microsoft's hardware innovation group, who demonstrated the system.

For device makers, Microsoft introduced a new license for Windows CE .Net 4.2 called Windows CE .Net version 4.2 Core. Under the license, priced at US$3, the software can be used in low-cost devices such as gateways, voice over IP (Internet protocol) phones and digital cameras, Microsoft said. A new, free version of Windows CE .Net for testing purposes was also announced.

WinHEC in New Orleans runs until Thursday, May 8.

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