More than 100 of the top business leaders from around the world gathered at Microsoft's corporate headquarters in Redmond yesterday to hear the company promote IT at its seventh annual CEO Summit. Microsoft created the annual gathering in 1997 to give business leaders a forum to discuss the challenges and opportunities associated with business and technology. As in previous years, Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates opened the event with a keynote address. This year's theme was "The Agile Business: Balancing Strategy and Execution."
Gates used his speech to outline the potential for innovation and explain that even during economic downturns, substantial returns on IT investment still exist. The company wants to continue to make technology an important tool for every business activity. Gates noted that "IT has been compared to the railroad, where--now that the tracks have been laid--there is no advantage to be had from having better IT systems," and said he hopes to eliminate the notion that IT is just another static part of a company's infrastructure.
Gates outlined many initiatives taking place at the company, including the Trustworthy Computing initiative. Microsoft demonstrated its recently acquired collaborative technology from PlaceWare. Gates also told the CEOs that the company continues to increase its R&D budget.
According to the software giant, the crowd included executives from several Fortune 1000 companies. The company didn't release a list of attendees, but those gathered reportedly included Jeff Bezos (Amazon.com), Warren Buffet (Berkshire Hathaway), Carly Fiorina (Hewlett-Packard--HP), Hasso Plattner (SAP), and Ross Perot Jr. (Perot Systems).
At last year's event, attendees previewed Microsoft's upcoming Tablet PC technology. This year, they used and kept a new NEC Tablet PC computer, worth an estimated $2400.