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CoDe Talks: Q&A with Steve Ballmer : Page 3

From offshoring and open source to the Tablet PC and the promise of Longhorn, it's always enlightening to hear a few candid remarks about the state of the industry from the CEO of Microsoft. Steve Ballmer spoke to CoDe Magazine Publisher, Markus Egger via email about these subjects and several others.




Building the Right Environment to Support AI, Machine Learning and Deep Learning

CoDe: I've spent some time with the Longhorn alpha and I can see that it will be a substantial shift from the Windows XP / Windows Server 2003 products currently available. How long do you think it will take the majority of corporations to adopt it? Ballmer: As we recently announced, we will be shipping the Longhorn client in 2006. We're very excited about this, and I'm confident customers will respond to some really important advances in security, deployment, management and reliability, and to a platform that creates developer excitement with the availability of even richer APIs.

We also announced that the new presentation subsystem codenamed Avalon and the new communication subsystem codenamed Indigo will be made available for Windows XP and Windows Server 2003. This availability will expand the scope of opportunity for developers by enabling them to write applications that can run on hundreds of millions of PCs. Our storage subsystem, code-named WinFS, will be in beta testing when the Longhorn client becomes available, and will be released after that. These fundamental improvements will make Longhorn very compelling for business customers, and we're doing a lot of work to make it easier for corporations to take advantage of all the new capability we'll deliver.

CoDe: It has been suggested by Microsoft that there may be another client version of Windows that will come out between Windows XP and Longhorn. Is this designed to be a migration path to Longhorn or is it primarily a way to keep making corporate America's investment in Win32 applications and the Open License v 6.0 more valuable? Ballmer: We just delivered Windows XP Service Pack 2, which I think is a huge release for us and for our customers. Besides its tremendous security enhancements, SP2 includes significant enhancements to Windows XP Tablet PC Edition and Media Center Edition, which I would also characterize as important new releases. We just delivered Windows Media Player 10, and we're working on a new version of Windows XP Media Center Edition that will build upon what we delivered in SP2. All of this work has been discussed internally, and I think there has been some characterization of this in the press as a "new release" of Windows. The next version of the Windows client is Longhorn, and that will arrive in 2006.

CoDe: Non-Microsoft development tools seem to be very common in schools and universities. This creates somewhat difficult scenarios when software companies try to hire young developers who have just completed their education and have very little experience with the Microsoft platform. Recent MS initiatives (such as Visual Studio Express) seem to be addressing this issue. Can you give us an overview of the strategy Microsoft has to fix this problem and how well the effort is progressing? Ballmer: We we're committed to making Windows the absolute best environment for students to learn. While we've made our software more accessible to students who want to program via MSDN Academic Alliance, we still have more to do to make our tools easier to use and learn. We're also doing more to invest in the kinds of content that make Computer Science (or even just programming) attractive to students. And we're working to become better partners for faculty and teachers.

To date, more than 3,500 university and college departments teaching computing in the U.S. have adopted MSDN Academic Alliance, enabling them to provide licensed copies of all Microsoft operating systems, developer tools, and server products at no additional charge to all their faculty and students. In the past year, we launched a curriculum repository with more than 800 lesson hours of re-usable, classroom tested CS content using .NET. We have been providing training for faculty for several years now and, going forward, will offer more training options that are flexible to meet the needs of educators. We're working hard to extend these programs beyond the college level, to high schools. We currently have provided grants to five states for a state-wide license for our developer tools, along with curriculum, support, online community, and in-person training for teachers. As you mentioned, Visual Studio 2005 is a key part our effort in this area. But that's really just the beginning. The Express products are a very strong investment in easy-to-use, easy-to-learn, and easy-to-acquire developer tools for students and hobbyists, young or old. We will also build a ton of content partnerships around the Express products that will result in fun, interesting projects for people to build. We've already started this with Amazon, eBay, and PayPal... but look for more in the coming months.

We're also spending a lot of time helping students build communities to connect with each other locally and from around the world. theSpoke is available in 15 languages, and students can congregate and share their experiences and knowledge with each other online, as well as start their own clubs at school. I really like the Imagine Cup as a competition to showcase student achievements in technology. The winner of the competition two years ago now has his own company based on the application he wrote for the Imagine Cup. We just finished this year's Imagine Cup in Brazil, where we had more than 10,000 students from over 90 countries competing. We're expanding this to include more competitions, and I look forward to being amazed again at the innovations that will be come from students. CoDe: What is your favorite Xbox game?

Ballmer: I don't have much time for gaming, but my son absolutely loves Halo.

Steve Ballmer is Chief Executive Officer, Microsoft.
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