Microsoft chairman Bill Gates presented his vision of IT's future to a gathering of IT directors from the British Computer Society's Elite group in late October and then brought them down to earth by plugging the next versions of Windows and Office.
Security will drive a new upgrade cycle to Office 12 and Windows Vista, which are due out next year, Gates said.
"Because of the security features in these new releases, it makes a lot of sense to upgrade to these new versions. That reason alone will drive a lot of upgrades." He said next year's releases would also resolve many compatibility issues that companies face.
"Today, a lot of new hardware comes in [to businesses] and gets downgraded to the old operating system because there is a compatibility issue about having the new version co-exist with the old. It makes people concerned, so they want to go for uniformity."
With security permanently high on the IT director's agenda, Gates' comments caused a mixed reaction among the audience. Jean Morgan, change governance manager at Barclays Bank, said she was reassured by Microsoft's commitment to security.
Douglas Ball, IT director at the Prescription Pricing Authority, said Gates did not fully answer how small companies can cope with the constant drive to upgrade.
Microsoft has earmarked some of the new security and compatibility features in the forthcoming Windows Vista exclusively for the enterprise version of the operating system. This version of the software is only due to be made available under the company's controversial Software Assurance licensing scheme.