What Is Bill Gates Thinking? "I'm really interested in modeling, and at your financial analysts meeting last summer you made the comment that modeling would be big in Microsoft's tools. I'm also pretty impressed with the Eclipse toolset and how they're going about supporting modeling. Do you think that makes Eclipse more of a viable competitor to Visual Studio?
[Gates:] IBM has their Rational group with Rose, and they have some Eclipse stuff. So as is often typical, they have multiple, semi-overlapping approaches there.
Modeling is the future, so every company that's working on this I think it's great, and I think there are some real contributions that can be made. You know UML [Unified Modeling Language] made the meta-models a little complex, so I don't think UML alone is the answer. Web services forces you to think modeling. And that's part of the good thing about it. And the promise here is that you write a lot less code, that you have a model of the business process. And you just look at that visually and say here is how I want to customize it.
So even a business could express in a formal, modeled way, not just scribbling on paper, how the business process is changing over time or how it's different from other companies. So instead of having lots of code behind that, you just have visual, essentially model, customization.
So, I think we believe that. There are certainly some people from IBM who have that same vision, and I think it'll be healthy competition between the two of us because today's modeling products fall short. That's one part of Visual Studio 2005, that we do have some neat things coming along that will be part of it that we haven't shown completely. We've shown a lot of it, but Visual Studio 2005 is very broad.
So you're talking about Whitehorse?
Yeah, exactly. That's the codename. But some of the Whitehorse stuff we haven't shown publicly, like how it lets you visually design Web services and lets you visually design the relationship between the application and the deployment, this thing we call the Dynamic Systems Initiative, where the developer says, 'OK, what sort of resources are needed to run the application.' And then the person who runs the application just binds that model to the actual execution environment. And then the developer can see if there are any performance issues or problems because they have this common model.
So, modeling is pretty magic stuff, whether it's management problems or business customization problems or work-flow problems, visual modeling. Even the Office group now really gets that for document life-cycle rights management, that this visual modeling will be key to them. Business intelligence, where you let people navigate through things, is another area where modeling could be used. It's probably the biggest thing going on. And both Visual Studio and Office need to be on top of that. There's a guy at Microsoft, Bill Baker, who's our business intelligence guy who's been promoting these ideas very successfully."