Craig Mundie, Microsoft CTO for advanced strateties and policy as well as one of the right hands of Bill Gates, was in Palo Alto to participate in the Churchill Club panel discussion, "The Next Wave of Technology: Iterative or Incendiary?." I caught up with him before event for an audio interview (which is available as an MP3 that can be downloaded or, if you’re already subscribed to ZDNet’s IT Matters series of audio podcasts, it will show up on your system or MP3 player automatically. See ZDNet’s podcasts: How to tune in).
Mundie expects some discontinuities to emerge in the next several years, in silicon fabrication and power consumption and well as in the way large scale software is constructed. He said a new way for improving the composition of software would be revolutionary, but it wouldn't fall out naturally from the tools we have today. We also discussed the role of Web services, progress in identity management, open source licenses, Microsoft's software design lifecycle for delivering more secure products, and his take on software as a service. "One of things we have been doing is recognizing that whether the whole software is a service, clearly of most of the software products we have had warrant having a service component, and we have been rolling out services that are an adjunct or a component to what our product offering is," Mundie said. Rather than hosting traditional applications--like a hosted version of the Microsoft Office platform--he pointed to Windows OneCare, a new subscription-based computer fix-it service, as an example of the kinds of services Microsoft plans to deliver.
Mundie also expects fairly substantial changes in basic algorithms, driven by the capabilities of new, more powerful machines. He also said that Microsoft will deliver breakthroughs around datamining. "Datamining may not appear to be so incendiary, but it may be where some or real breakthroughs occur."