At Microsoft’s Professional Developers Conference (PDC) last month, InfoWorld Senior Analyst Jon Udell sat down with Bill Gates for a surprisingly candid interview. In this excerpt, Gates discusses the new, lightweight version of Windows Presentation Foundation (formerly code-named Avalon) and explains why he is confident that enterprises will upgrade to Vista. The full version of the interview covers a wide range of topics -- including the future of RSS and the relationship between object behaviors and loose coupling through XML. In this segment, Udell starts by recounting the reaction to the new, portable version of XAML (Extensible Application Markup Language) dubbed XAML/E (the “E” is for “everywhere”).
JU: A few people in the audience spontaneously commented “Flash competitor” when they saw the light version of the presentation framework. Do you think that’s a fair observation? And do you think that that’s potentially a vehicle for getting Avalon interfaces onto not just devices but non-Windows desktops? To extend the reach of Avalon that way?
BG: From a technology point of view … it overlaps what Flash does a lot.
JU: And it’s a portable run time at this point, so is it something that conceivably takes XAML apps to a Mac desktop or a Linux desktop? Is that a scenario?
BG: The Mac is one of the targets that we explicitly talked about; so, yes. Now it’s not 100 percent of XAML, we need to be clear on that. But the portion of XAML we’ve picked here will be everywhere. Absolutely everywhere. And it has to be. At least for reading, and even some level of animation, you’ve got to have pervasiveness.
JU: A lot of people wonder about what’s really the enterprise hook for Vista. And in particular, now that it looks as though a lot of pieces of what were Vista-only are going to be separately available, what would you advance as the key reasons why an enterprise would upgrade?
BG: I don’t have any doubt at all that IT departments are going to want to switch to Vista at full speed. Just the logging, security. We didn’t talk here about the imaging, where you can have one image shared across all the things. There’s a ton of stuff that just makes this a clear win for IT.
JU: So managing and deploying -- those issues are going to be the drivers, you would say?
BG: Yeah. Even if it was just security, that alone is enough. But yes. And if it was just deployment, that alone would be enough. This -- I forget what they call LUA [least-privileged user account] now, the ability to have non-administrators not do the administrator thing.
JU: Defaulting to non-administrator is huge.
BG: Right. Those guys want to be as efficient as possible doing desktop management; that really impacts the software development thing. It’s been huge. So we don’t have any doubt that IT will move up. The hardware that’s out there, installed base, most of that is capable of running Windows Vista. And we’ve got to make sure that we get the performance metrics right so that people don’t feel like they have a lot of hardware that can’t run it. By the time we ship, most of the hardware will be capable.