Speaking before an estimated crowd of 12,000, Gates introduced OneNote - an addition to Microsoft Office - which mimics note taking with a paper and pen, but improves it with the ability to save and search those notes in digital form.
"It hasn't been that easy in the past to . . . really organise your thoughts in a free-form way," Gates said. "There's been no member in the Office family that aims in that direction."
He claimed OneNote would begin to solve the problem. It will allow users to jot down notes with a stylus pen or with a keyboard, as well as drag an image or data from a Web page onto a OneNote document.
The application can also record audio while taking notes and have that audio linked to the notes as a user writes. By clicking on a typed or handwritten word in a OneNote file, a user would hear the portion of the audio that was uttered when that note was written.
Gates also trumpeted his company's efforts around building an deploying Web services based on its .net platform and the industry standard format XML (Extensible Markup Language).
He said the long-awaited Windows .Net Server 2003 operating system would be released in April 2003, as will a final beta version of Microsoft's software development tool, Visual Studio .net.
Aside from hardware and software for the corporate customers, Gates focused heavily on new products from the company aimed at the consumer market, particularly the living room.