Microsoft Offers Hints At Product Road Map

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At the conference, held at Microsoft's campus in Redmond, Wash., a parade of executives chatted up a new forms capability that will appear in Office 12, its competitive hot line to combat Linux, and demoed new features in the next-generation Windows Vista operating system.

Still, interesting tidbits did emerge. On the Office front, for example, Micrisoft Group Vice President Jeff Raikes revealed that more partners have achieved Office competency and that more than 1 million developers are qualified on the Office technologies.

"Office 12 will be the most revolutionary release of Office, ever," said Raikes, who heads Microsoft's Information Worker organization. "We think it will shatter the 'good enough' perception [of customers' existing installments]. We think we have opportunities for the Premium Edition, and we're doing a lot of research now on how we could configure such an edition. And we have server products that people haven't even written rumors about yet."

To combat Linux, Microsoft plans to do more than its current informational campaign comparing total costs of ownership. It will also deliver products aimed at winning customers now using Linux for Web servers, high-performance computing and edge servers.

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"As an example, we are constructing product offerings against those high-performance workloads," said Kevin Johnson, group vice president of the Worldwide Sales Marketing Group. "We are targeting the specific pieces of value for that. We think we will see customers shift to us. Watch us over next two years as we do that."