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Would you buy Windows Vista?
For Bill Gates and Microsoft, that's the big question. This week at the software giant's Professional Developers Conference, Gates rallied the troops--software developers, Microsoft's most important audience--to build enthusiasm for Vista and Office 12, the new version of MS Office.
Q: More developers are becoming interested in building new applications using the Web as a platform, as opposed to the PC. Do you feel you're in competition with Google, Yahoo and other Web properties for developers' attention?
Gates: No, I don't think so. At this conference, we do give out APIs (application programming interfaces) for the MSN Search and the MSN Virtual Earth capability, so things that have been cloud-based services, you can have client applications that other services can connect to.Our search API is way better than their(Google's) search API.
Q:Well, I guess that's what you have to combat, right? They are in this phase, and when Google does anything, they get attention.
Gates: Yeah. You do me-too Google Talk, and it's a big deal. But we had our honeymoon phase, and it was fun from maybe 1985 to 1995.
Q:How does Microsoft want to bring that server-equals-service capability to the market? You have the servers. Do you have the services?
Gates: Well, let's go through it. We have Active Directory, which we are making a lot richer. We also have Passport. So we're making those very symmetric and having this federation capability be central to the architecture those things follow. We have e-mail where we have Hotmail and Exchange. We'll have hosted Exchange from some of the telcos, too. In terms of Web sites, we have some people doing hosted SharePoint now, we have Spaces, which is a low-end version of that. We'll bring those together. So our services have started out as very inexpensive but not feature-rich. Our servers are very feature rich.
Q:Looking at the open-source world, there's this movement away from selling licenses toward selling support. A lot of people are participating in that, and you have been skeptical. Why? Do you think that's fundamentally the wrong model?
Gates: The industry will always be a mix of free and commercial software. So there will be a balance between those. I think that we are going to have a lot of both. There are some zealots that think there should be no software jobs, that we should all, like, cut hair during the day and write code at night. Should you take some of those extreme views, I think it's easy to say that's not right. There are things like compatibility and 24-hour support and taking big leaps like IPTV or speech recognition. The painstaking work over a decade that you have to do, that costs hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars. That's the commercial side. It's good at hiring people and selling licenses and taking the risks that go with that.
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The Bottom Line: Microsoft is really pushing up to competer against Google. In the coming future, we will see a huge revolution due to battle of these giants!