By Jennifer LeClaire / CIO Today. Updated May 16, 2007.
Bill Gates boasted about hardware innovation and platform opportunity at the 16th annual Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHEC) in Los Angeles on Tuesday.
For starters, Gates cited strong sales momentum and positive customer response to Windows Vista in its first 100 days. Then he unveiled the new name for the next Microsoft Windows platform release: Windows Server 2008, formerly code-named Longhorn. Gates also took the opportunity to showcase new technologies for businesses and consumers.
"A wave of great new hardware products from our partners has played a major role in the strong demand we've seen for Windows Vista," Gates told the WinHEC audience in his keynote address. "Going forward, Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 will provide a platform for hardware innovations that will deliver more intelligent and compelling computing experiences for consumers and business users, driving increased demand for a wide range of new PCs and new devices."
Microsoft's Industry Impact
Of special note was a commissioned research study from IDC showing the economic impact that Widows Vista and Windows Server 2008 are expected to have on the U.S. market. The study predicts that for every dollar of revenue Microsoft will earn in 2008 from Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008, the technology ecosystem beyond Microsoft will reap approximately $18 more.
IDC also forecasts that in 2008, this same ecosystem will sell more than $120 billion in products and services revolving around Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008. Also of note is the predicted 20 percent gain in overall Windows-related employment in 2008 that IDC attributes specifically to Windows Vista or Windows Server 2008.
"The impact of Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 will reach far beyond Microsoft," wrote John Gantz, chief research officer and senior vice president of IDC. Overall, he said, "the advent of Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 will help local economies grow, improve the labor force, and support the formation of new companies." Gantz foresees that the indirect benefits of using newer software will also help businesses boost productivity, increase competitiveness, and support local innovation.
For all the hype and hope, though, some analysts don't view it as a spectacular promise. Illuminata server analyst Gordo Haff, for one, finds it interesting that Microsoft would herald the IDC study, especially since Redmond is "rather notorious for gobbling up its own ecosystem."
"People do not buy operating systems for operating systems just like they don't buy Intel processors for processors," Haff argued. "It's all one large interconnected ecosystem. I'm sure just about anyone could trot out similar numbers."
Continuing the Count
In addition to highlighting the trickle-down financial benefits of Windows Vista, Microsoft execs also took the opportunity to tout the early Windows Server 2008 success. According to the company, the new Beta 3 version of the software was downloaded more than 100,000 times in its first three weeks of availability. What's more, nearly 40 million Windows Vista licenses had been sold within the first 100 days after its January launch.
A driving factor in the early success of Windows Vista, according to Microsoft, has been the accelerating shift to digital lifestyles and the desire for richer computing experiences. Execs highlighted the demand for premium editions of Windows Vista, which have accounted for 78 percent of Windows Vista sales to date.
Microsoft chief research and strategy officer Craig Mundie joined Gates on stage, discussing the future of hardware and software development on the Windows platform. Looking ahead, the chief strategist advised developers in the audience to focus on creating applications that will take advantage of multiple core processors and the increased power they provide, in order to help end users fully benefit from hardware improvements over the coming years.