Las Vegas -- Integration, integration, integration.
Bill Gates had nothing to say about the company's antitrust troubles during an hour-long Networld+Interop keynote Tuesday morning.
Microsoft's chairman instead highlighted the advantages of technical integration at the heart of the company's flagship Windows 2000 product family.
In a roundabout way, Gates was sending a message: Microsoft has argued that any shackles on its right to integrate product features would harm its ability to innovate. This was a constant theme of Microsoft's core defense during its antitrust trial.
Gates took the stage one day before Microsoft is due to file its remedy proposal to the judge overseeing the DOJ case. Other than showing a Microsoft (msft)video which poked fun at the company's legal predicament, Gates didn't refer to the case.
Microsoft's remedy proposal will detail penalties the company feels are appropriate, based on Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson's conclusions of law issued in early April. The DOJ released its own remedy document last week, recommending that the judge break Microsoft into a Windows company and an applications company.
In the course of one of his drier keynotes, Gates focused on the reliability, scalability and performance enhancements of Windows 2000 - all of which are enabled by the various Microsoft technologies and products the company has embedded in its business operating system. He did not show off any of the next-generation products, such as Windows Millennium Edition, the Whistler follow-on to Windows 2000 or Windows 2000 Datacenter that he has demonstrated in other recent keynote addresses.
Gates often returned to the promise of XML, the lingua franca of the "Business Internet." He said that Microsoft is enabling its forthcoming languages, operating systems and application products to take advantage of XML. Indeed, the company is expected to take the wraps off its XML platform strategy, which it calls Next Generation Windows Services, in June.
Gates pledged that Microsoft will "do our part" in insuring XML interoperability, and highlighted an
emerging XML-over-HTTP standard which Microsoft is championing, as an example of its commitment.
Instead of talking futures, Gates demonstrated the clustering, certificate authentication, streaming media, virtual private networking and Internet authentication services built into Windows 2000. He talked up the IPSec, Kerberos and smart-card integration that are all part of the product. He called for hardware, software and services vendors to develop for smart cards as a way to improve the password-centric security schemes used by most IT shops today.
Gates called for "continued innovation" on the smart card front, suggesting developers "build these [smart card] features in to make their products easier and easier" to use.
Gates spent some time demonstrating Windows Services for Unix 2.0, the add-on to Windows 2000 that improves Windows' interoperability with Unix.
He also showcased Interix 2.2, another Windows-Unix interoperability offering from Microsoft.
Gates ended his remarks by itemizing the future "big bets" for Microsoft and the Internet. He called out XML, natural interface, multiple devices and operating system reliability/security/performance as the hot buttons going forward.