Microsoft chief software architect Bill Gates used the company’s annual CEO summit in the US this week to promote the next version of the Office collaboration suite of products.
Gates said, “Today's companies thrive when their employees can effectively collaborate, visualise and act on business intelligence and prioritise scarce time and resources.
“Information workers are the driving force behind business innovation. To adapt and succeed in the new world of work today and tomorrow, they need advanced tools that will help them make the most of their unique talents, experiences and judgement.”
Gates described how workplace trends such as the shift from manufacturing to service economies were shaping technology innovation, and highlighted the growing need for people to collaborate across organisations and time zones.
Other forces include the larger and more complex streams of information that employees must handle in today's “always on, always connected” technology environments, the demands for greater transparency and accountability in business processes, and more intense competition to recruit talented employees from a shrinking workforce.
Gates said the next wave of Microsoft Office products, currently codenamed Office 12, was a significant step towards giving businesses the tools to work in this changing business landscape.
Office 12 will be available in the second half of 2006, with the first beta version expected this autumn. Microsoft said it would incorporate open XML standards and provide rapid development tools.
The CEO summit was attended by 100 CEOs from Fortune 1000 companies.