Microsoft is "betting the future of the company" on its Longhorn next-generation operating system (OS), according to chief software architect Bill Gates.
Speaking to a room full of ISV partners at the Developing Software for the Future Microsoft Platform conference in London last week, Gates revealed the firm would be spending $6.8bn on R&D for the new OS.
Longhorn will be built around .Net and based on common web service standards, he explained.
Gates had met chancellor Gordon Brown and spoken at the Advancing Enterprise: Britain in a Global Economy conference, before making his keynote speech at Microsoft's event.
"We have led a lot of breakthroughs in the PC industry and this is the decade when things will improve most radically. We are willing to make big bets and we really have to put a stake in the ground now," Gates said.
He added that using XML to connect software will lead to a "seamless computing vision".
Longhorn is being planned for release in two to three years' time, but Gates implored partners to give regular feedback.
"We want input, we want to know what you think we are missing and we want to keep [partners] up to date," he said.
Eric Gales, director of SMS&P managed partner group at Microsoft, admitted the firm has a lot of work still to do in terms of convincing businesses to adopt the new technology. He said the channel would play a vital role in helping Microsoft to do this.
"We need to do a better job helping firms understand what they need to do with this technology and what impact software can have on productivity," Gales said.
"We have always been great at delivering technology, but have not done such a good job of articulating to customers how it can help them. One of the things we are doing is putting more focus on partners.
The channel needs to be able to get mindshare and be in a position to explain the benefits of the software."
Karlo Rimini, managing director of ISV Snow Valley, said: "It's swings and roundabouts with an OS. If applications are there, customers will upgrade.
"Microsoft has to add significant value to persuade firms to upgrade, but if [Microsoft] is willing to invest half and partners provide the rest there shouldn't be a problem."
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