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Redmond, Wash.—Every year Microsoft Corp. holds its annual financial analyst meeting on its campus here. Hundreds of technology analysts gather to hear the brass pitch the company’s latest line as well as see some of the forthcoming technology, product plans and marketing campaigns. No surprise then that eWEEK and Microsoft Watch reporters were in attendance.

Of course, Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates spoke to the crowd, saying that PC users would see big breakthroughs in the years ahead as what is in the company’s pipeline is more exciting than anything the software giant has ever cooked up.

In a talk about innovation
and how it fits into the software industry, Gates said that being able to redistribute $30 billion indicated just how far the software business model has come.

Gates also used the meeting to emphasize how important modeling is to the company’s development strategy.

“It’s modeling that’s going to greatly simplify applications customization,” he said. “The place we’re using it mostly today is to describe how two pieces of software relate to each other.”

Click here to read more of Microsoft’s modeling strategy.

Here are the reports from other presentations offered at the analyst conference:

  • Security issues have been at the forefront of Microsoft’s business over the past year and this has come to a head, said Will Poole, senior vice president of Microsoft’s Windows client division.

    “We also realized that the hackers were looking at our fixes and were using these as the basis for ways to exploit the software, so we changed our behavior around that. We also want to find ways to stop the virus before it gets to the user’s PC and to halt the worm before it is propagated over the network,” Poole said. Click here to read how there’s ‘no silver bullet’ for security problems.

  • The Redmond software vendor plans to step up its “Get the Facts” anti-open-source campaign in the coming year by adding more evidence, in the form of customer case studies and analyst reports, to its arsenal.
  • Meanwhile, as Microsoft looks at offering tailored, market-specific Office System products, this fall it will release in Japan a new product called Microsoft Office Interconnect, currently under beta testing, that is essentially a contact manager.

    The product allows users to have a unique, electronic business card that can be mailed around, secured with digital signatures and allowed to travel among the user’s contacts, colleagues and connections. Click here to read more on the product and how Microsoft will offer tailored products to specific markets.

  • Microsoft’s sales chief spent almost all of his 30-minute address focusing on a question many Wall Street analysts have pondered repeatedly: How will Microsoft continue to gain market and mind share against its many open-source competitors?Click here to read how Microsoft aims to trump Linux.
  • For more than two years, Microsoft has been talking up its goal of providing users with an integrated search capability that would allow them to find information stored locally on hard disks, on corporate intranets and across the Internet. Microsoft finally showed a prototype of such a service at the conference. Click here to read more of Microsoft’s preview of all-in-one searching.
  • Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer was upbeat on the company’s prospects. It’s also interesting to see which businesses will be making big bets versus those that won’t, he said. “We need to be looking for the next emerging business, and you guys should be pushing us along this path, not discouraging us, as that’s where future growth will come from.”

    “We need to be first: first to market and first to be cool. We also better be the first to make a lot of money, and if we aren’t first to do so, we better be making the most at the end of the day,” Ballmer said. Click here to read more of Ballmer’s comments.

  • Microsoft’s servers and tools business saw substantial growth over the past year, and the company expects that new releases of its major tools platform and database will bring much of the same for the coming year, a senior company executive said Thursday. Click here to read more of Microsoft’s expectations for servers and developer tools.

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