Gates speaks at CEO Summit
Robert Sorbo  /  Reuters
Microsoft chairman Bill Gates speaks to business leaders at the ninth annual Microsoft CEO Summit in Redmond, Wash., Thursday.
updated 5/19/2005 10:30:12 PM ET 2005-05-20T02:30:12

At his annual shindig for CEOs, Microsoft Corp. Chairman Bill Gates told executives that businesses need to do more to help their employees sort through an ever-growing flood of information that threatens to become a drain on productivity.

“It’s overwhelming,” Gates said Thursday at the software company’s ninth annual CEO Summit. “Nobody’s paid to do search or just find information. At the end of the day you’re paid for designing a new product, having a satisfied customer and doing that with the minimum amount of time, the minimum amount of people.”

He said Microsoft’s Office division is already developing products designed to make it easier for people to stay on task, collaborate on projects and quantify whether they’re hitting their targets.

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Without giving many details, Gates announced that the next wave of Office products, code-named Office 12, will be released in the second half of 2006, with test versions coming out this fall.

He said the programs will help businesses be more competitive in what he called the “new world of work,” where it will be easier to set priorities, understand important data and spend less time organizing information.

Chris Capossela, vice president of Microsoft’s Office product management group, outlined some of the features in development, including virtual “workspaces” that let people involved in the same project update documents and keep track of e-mails they send each other about their work.

Office Communicator, scheduled to be released sometime next month, will bundle e-mail, instant message and other services, letting people switch from text messaging to video chats with the click of a button, the company said at its annual CEO summit. It will also let people work on documents together while they’re instant messaging.

At one point, Gates shifted his speech to living room technology, boasting about Xbox 360, the new Microsoft video game console slated to hit stores around Thanksgiving. He bragged that it will support high-definition graphics that are as much as 40 times better than those now sold.

Moments after he said he’d offer CEOs a peek at some games that are being developed, the video feed to a room full of reporters cut out. A message on the screen said the material couldn’t be shown because the clips contained proprietary information.

Joe McGrath, CEO of information technology services company Unisys Corp., agreed with Gates’ premise that businesses need to get ready for an influx of tech-savvy workers if they want to stay competitive.

“Today’s set of tools don’t support the new interactive world that all these kids are coming out of,” McGrath told reporters after Gates’ speech.

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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