Feeds

Gates pumps up Office, slaps down Yahoo!

Man your APIs

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

Office System Developer Conference A "brilliant, powerful - and let's face it, sexy and good looking - leader of men and women who just doesn't believe in paying more than seven dollars for a haircut".

That's the way Brian Williams, respected news anchorman for America's NBC, described Bill Gates in a video spoof on the Microsoft chairman's pending semi-retirement.

The star-studded video was shown during Gates's opening keynote at Microsoft's first Office System Developer Conference, in San Jose, California. The good news? These endless portrayals of Gates as a cuddly, self-effacing geek are likely to be fewer and further between as his role shifts from full- to part-time Microsoft employee.

Gates, though, didn't seem like an executive ready to retire as he took the stage to promote Microsoft's ubiquitous Office suite - and sole star performer of the Windows Vista desktop - as a software development platform, and also gave some insight into the thinking behind Microsoft's $45bn bid for Yahoo!.

"Making Office into a platform is very important to us," Gates said. "Our investment in the Office platform is greater today than it's ever been."

At the heart of Microsoft's strategy to promote the Office suite as a software development platform is the concept of the Office Business Application (OBA). OBAs combine the productivity suite with enterprise business processes and data.

Gates made several announcements, including the winter 2008 release (version 2) of the Office Live Small Business service. Gates claimed more than 600,000 subscribers to the service since it debuted last year. The company is offering a basic version for free with users paying for additional services.

Microsoft also announced an OBA Composition Toolkit, a reference application that uses Office and SharePoint Server 2007 to "enable the creation of enterprise mashups using pre-built components", and a new OBA Sample Application Kit for PeopleSoft and SAP. The OBA Sample kit provides tools for the rapid development of enterprise-grade business software that is connected to Office. Gates also touted Visual Studio Extensions for Windows SharePoint Server 1.1.

Ok, ok. Office is nice and everything, but why buy Yahoo!, whose corporate HQ is just down the road? As Gates spoke, Yahoo!'s management rejected Microsoft's hostile offer, a move that's apparently designed to strap the underperforming Yahoo! engine to the becalmed MSN barge and to somehow overtake the Google supertanker.

Gates responded during a rare question and answer session. Opening with a backhanded complement, Gates claimed only the two companies combined could convert Yahoo's engineering prowess into online ads revenue.

"Yahoo has done great work. I particularly point to the engineering work they've done... they did good work," he said (note the repeated emphasis on past tense). "But in an ad model, you need scale. And it's a tricky question of whether only one company has that scale."

Note to Bill: Google is just a single company, so therefore it must be a question of "who" rather than "what" type of single company you are.

Obviously, Gates was recalling Microsoft's solo $5bn plus spend so-far on R&D and entertainment content along with ads-related acquisitions since 2006, that's barely moved Microsoft's online needle against Google.

"There is a strategy where you drive toward being a media company and you take functions and you give up the engineering to someone else. We don't believe in that. The core is going to be engineering, and you've got to get it into a level of scale so that you can go and challenge to become the number one in that space." ®

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
Microsoft boots 1,500 dodgy apps from the Windows Store
DEVELOPERS! DEVELOPERS! DEVELOPERS! Naughty, misleading developers!
Apple promises to lift Curse of the Drained iPhone 5 Battery
Have you tried turning it off and...? Never mind, here's a replacement
Uber, Lyft and cutting corners: The true face of the Sharing Economy
Casual labour and tired ideas = not really web-tastic
Mozilla's 'Tiles' ads debut in new Firefox nightlies
You can try turning them off and on again
Linux turns 23 and Linus Torvalds celebrates as only he can
No, not with swearing, but by controlling the release cycle
Scratched PC-dispatch patch patched, hatched in batch rematch
Windows security update fixed after triggering blue screens (and screams) of death
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Backing up Big Data
Solving backup challenges and “protect everything from everywhere,” as we move into the era of big data management and the adoption of BYOD.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?