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December 4, 1997


Microsoft VP Jon DeVaan calls for
pushing localisation, Web commerce

R Vijay Shankar at Hotel Taj Palace

Microsoft Vice-President Jon DeVaan has set rolling the twin Comdex conferences here by delivering the keynote address.

At 0900 hours DeVaan spoke on the trends in computing technology and
Q&A: Sanjay Kumar
Jon DeVaan's keynote
The Net infrastructure
Q&A: Dr D Packard
PCs or NCs?
Sites and servers
The localisation issue
Microsoft's initiatives before a gathering of technical delegates, largely from India's information technology industry.

He talked of the incredible improvements in personal computer performance in recent years in context with the sharp fall in prices. "The PC architecture is being increasingly designed to improve the performance/price index. A similar performance in other sectors such as automobiles or breakfast cereals would have plummeted the price to zero now!" he calculated.

"Microsoft is taking major initiatives in this fast changing computing scenario," he claimed. 'Linguistic intelligence' is an important area of work and the effort is to enable large data to be stored with the facility for inputting data through talk. This will take care of problems like bad grammar and typos because information would be managed with all the suitable corrections, he promised.

He spoke of other possibilities like automatic summarisation and presentation of data and systems management, where the PC watches for updates and automatically downloads the relevant information.

DeVaan thinks India should pay particular attention to Web commerce to overcome the inhibiting geography of people distribution in the country.

The Web TV, for enriched viewing experience, which can download programmes at the user's schedule, is a likely reality, he said.

The Microsoft initiatives, DeVaan said, are found mainly in bringing down the 'total cost of ownership' and enabling simplicity of use. The strategy for achieving this is through the idea of 'digital neurons system', a term used by CEO Bill Gates.

The PC technology is to be leveraged through the server network system for running a business and for obtaining timely access to upgrades. For example, he cited, 'MS Expense' will generate reports in a company to track expense proposals and route them to the appropriate managers. This could improve average productivity through early sanction, he pointed out.

'Total cost of ownership' is an area of Microsoft's technical strategy and focus, DeVaan explained. The office will run on the server and the client's hard disk is but a cache of the server.

As for worldwide investment, Microsoft will work towards local language solutions and on localising. This, DeVaan feels, is absolutely necessary now as the PC phenomenon is truly worldwide and the markets are expanding.

The systems are to be executable worldwide and the Windows NT 5 and the Internet Explorer would meet this need in the future, he promised.

Answering a question, DeVaan said Microsoft tries to offer what people need - the best product at the best price possible - and there is no cause for concern about Microsoft's increasing monopolistic clout in the information technology world and the danger therefrom. After all, he said, "There are computing products and people are free to choose."

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