Microsoft chairman and chief software architect Bill Gates pitched his company's "seamless computing" vision to an audience of software developers in San Francisco.
Gates first talked about a seamless computing world where various devices work well together and data flows seamlessly form one device to another at Comdex in Las Vegas last November. Developers have to make the concept a reality, he said
Gates previewed a program for Visual Studio 2005, an upcoming release of Microsoft's developer tools previously known as Whidbey.
He also presented Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition, an update to Microsoft's software for handheld devices, and officially marked Microsoft's entry into the speech recognition server market with the launch of Speech Server 2004.
He delivered his keynote to a joint audience of Microsoft's Mobile Developer Conference, Fawcette Technical Publications' VSLive and the AVIOS~SpeechTEK attendees in San Francisco.
A new "community preview initiative" for Visual Studio 2005 will allow developers to get their hands on prerelease versions of the developer tool and give Microsoft feedback.
Early versions, including releases between official beta versions, will be made available to Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) Universal subscribers and attendees to several developer conferences.
"It is harder than ever to develop applications," Gates said. Developers have to deal with existing code and high-quality expectations for their applications that have to run continuously.
"It is really up to the tool to make sure these things aren't overwhelming and that it doesn't slow down the development of applications," he added.
Visual Studio 2005 is a major release of Microsoft's development tools. The product was originally due out this year, but Microsoft pushed back the release date until the first half of 2005.
The tool promises to make it easier for developers to create applications for the web and for mobile devices, as well as speech applications.
With Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition, Microsoft is expanding support for hardware. The update adds support for screen switching between landscape and portrait modes and support for higher resolution VGA (video graphics array) and QVGA displays, Microsoft said. Gates unveiled a Motorola MPx handset which uses the software.
The MPx, announced earlier this year at the 3GSM World Conference in Cannes, is a dual-hinge clamshell-style phone that opens vertically for traditional phone operation and horizontally for use as an e-mail device.
It has a QWERTY keyboard, a 16-bit colour touch-screen display with 320 pixel-by-240 pixel resolution, integrated Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and an SD (Secure Digital)/MMC (Multi Media Card) slot for up to 1Gbyte of additional memory.
Joris Evers writes for IDG News Service