DENVER--With one operating system out the door, another undergoing tests, and a revised approach to building application software continuing to evolve, Microsoft chairman and chief executive Bill Gates didn't have a lot of new technology to show Windows developers who gathered this week for the latest-and-greatest from the software giant.
But that didn't stop Microsoft's chief from promoting his company's tools--especially the Windows NT operating system--and reenforcing his belief that the legal battle his company is waging against the federal government is bad for the computer industry.
Citing probes concerning his own firm, Intel, and Cisco Systems, among others, Gates said any change in the free-wheeling spirit that has brought the computer industry to this point would hurt the vitality of the domestic and world economies.
"I think it's fascinating that somebody could say there's a lack of innovation," Gates told a packed Windows-friendly hall.
As a result, much of Gates's discussion served to highlight the potential of the forthcoming Windows NT Workstation and Server 5.0 release and the momentum that it has engendered. Gates claimed that 60,000 applications would be ready once the client and server versions ship--expected sometime next year. That is three times the number that shipped with the watershed release of Windows 95, Gates said.
Microsoft executives refused to provide more details on the timetable for NT's delivery. Mike Nash, director of marketing for Windows NT Server and infrastructure products, said the company continues to evaluate feedback from its second beta of NT, which has been in the hands of about 250,000 testers for about six weeks. A third beta is planned before final release, Nash said.
Microsoft executives said that more than 100,000 applications are expected to be commercially available within 18 months of the operating system's availability.
With NT essentially representing a platform shift for the company, Microsoft's accompanying approach to application development continues to change, with a more unified message being articulated to developers, tying several NT components and development tools together. Gates continued on this path.
"Microsoft is, in many ways, reinventing itself," noted David Vaskevitch, vice president of database and transaction engines for Microsoft, in an address that followed Gates's appearance.
On the antitrust front, Gates also said the government's case against Microsoft misinterprets the manner in which the firm approaches partnerships, highlighting discussions the company undertook with sometime rival Apple Computer concerning its QuickTime software for multimedia content.
"That kind of discussion makes sense, and yet the government twisting that conversation should have never taken place," Gates said. "This is scary to me."
Separately, Microsoft announced the availability of updated agent software technology for use with interactive applications in upcoming products such as Office 2000 and support for the company's COM+ development tools within Microsoft's Visual Studio development suite. Partnerships with desktop application provider Corel and middleware software specialist Level 8 Systems were also rolled out.
Database software provider Sybase also announced the availability of Adaptive Server Anywhere for the Microsoft's Windows CE operating system, Handheld PC Professional Edition.