Steve Ballmer opened Microsoft's annual TechEd conference in San Diego on Monday promoting the need for business and technology people to think aggressively about the untapped potential of information technology. Microsoft's CEO then drilled into the nitty gritty of getting it done, announcing Web services advances and new tools designed to help different kinds of IT professionals collaborate during the lifecycle of Visual Studio applications.
"We have a chance to change the world in a positive way, and I think that's important for us to remember," Ballmer told attendees. "I think the next 10 years will bring more positive change and innovation in our industry than the last 10 years." Anyone who didn't agree about that, Ballmer joked, could "meet me backstage afterwards and I'll have a chat with you."
During the presentation, Microsoft demonstrated an updated version of Web services middleware called Web Services Enhancements 2.0, available now, that brings added security to Web services created using Microsoft's Visual Studio development environment and the .Net Framework within the Windows server operating system. In addition, a "preview" version of Web Services Enhancements 2.0 for BizTalk Server is also available, making it possible to expose business process "flows" in a secure Web services format.
Microsoft also released for beta testing the new Microsoft Office Information Bridge Framework, a set of tools and software components intended to help developers tie the company's flagship desktop applications into data from other sources. Analyst Rob Enderle of the Enderle Group describes the Information Bridge Framework as the latest effort by Microsoft to establish more development activity around Office, partly in response to growing competition. "They want to better integrate it into organizations so it's harder to displace," says Enderle.
The Visual Studio 2005 Team System will allow application architects, developers, testers, and other IT professionals to collaborate during the lifecycle of an application. Some of the capabilities, Ballmer said, originated with Microsoft Research and have been used by Microsoft internally in its effort to create more secure software. The Team System, he added, is a key deliverable in Microsoft's Dynamic Systems Initiative, a long-term strategy for creating more flexible and manageable applications.
Enderle said too often there remains a disconnect between the people in a company who conceive the need for an application and the software that results months later. Team System, he said, could alleviate that by helping companies manage applications from "cradle to grave."