Robust approach to mobility

10 Mar 2006

Microsoft's CTO, Craig Mundie, talks to Telecom Asia on the Redmond giant's moves in mobility, its vision for voice and the China conundrum

Telecom Asia: IT has become essential to today's enterprises business and is embedded in processes. That raises issues about IT governance and the role of the CIO. One approach has been to rotate all senior execs through the CIO post. What's your view on that‾

Craig Mundie: I think there are two levels. Because of the sophistication of the infrastructure, it may be appropriate to have a CIO. You might actually think that the CIO should stand for chief infrastructure officer. In that regard, making sure that you've got the network, making sure that you've got the security apparatus, making sure you've got the level of training and other things. I think that's a big and complicated function, it takes significant expertise to get right. I'm not sure just rotating the management will necessarily give you the expertise to get the infrastructure right.

MS is gaining traction in the mobile space. What's driven your progress there‾

Our progress has been driven by people's natural willingness to accept more and more sophisticated capabilities even in their handheld computers. Those first Pocket PCs were really monsters compared with these more elegant ones today.

But that is more a hardware problem.

It is, but it is an important answer to the question. We bet 13 years ago that the computer would become increasingly powerful and people would demand really sophisticated things for these tiny devices.

I said our dream was only one device and it integrates the phone and there's a color screen, and it will be your music player. You sit here now and that's what everybody thinks ought to happen. In a way we started down that path and the hardware world sort of caught up.

In a way we're doing it in televisions, we're doing it in automobiles. Today all of these things, if you look back four of five years, they were all cases in which Microsoft appeared to have an overkill or a more sophisticated approach than what was popular at the time.

What's the Microsoft view on where voice is going - is that just going to be a free app that comes with a broadband connection‾

Yeah, and we've had that view for six or seven years already.

The way you create value around voice communications now is understood to be the presence functions, and the incorporation of that communication function into other experiences. That I think is the thing people haven't focused on yet.

There really won't be a distinction between making a phone call and just talking through your computer. I think increasingly voice and video-based communication will be an embedded and an expected feature of many other experiences. Today, you look at some physical thing and make a phone call as a separate action - that will disappear.

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