SAN DIEGO — Microsoft Corp. CEO Steve Ballmer admitted he borrowed heavily from Redmond’s new ad tagline — Do More With Less — for the theme of the of Tech Ed 2004 opening keynote, which took place May 23-28.

The mantra “”amplifies the pressure we think you’re under,”” Ballmer told a packed house

at the convention centre here. While there’s a growing application backlog, there is still pressure to keep IT costs down. Ballmer laid the blame for that at the feet of the Y2K ramp-up and the dot-com bubble — two costly exercises for which the business side of the enterprise felt they got nothing. Growth in IT spending is stabilizing, but pressure for new projects is still outstripping that growth.

Microsoft is taking a life cycle approach to the development value proposition, and that will be manifested in its release next year of Visual Studio 2005 Team System, Ballmer said. The new VS is a suite of tools aimed at better integrating the development and deployment/management functions of the IT organization. This includes process management tools, point-and-click validation that code will work in a deployment, static analysis and load- testing tools.

“”Writing applications today is more than just writing code,”” said Prashant Sridharan, Microsoft’s product manager for Visual C#.

Paulla Bennett, manager of the IT services department for the York Region Board of Education in Ontario, found the integration compelling.

“”School boards are at the mercy of whatever funding envelope comes down,”” she said. With no guarantee of resources on the IT side, students and teachers come first — infrastructure development isn’t a funding priority.

Having the disciplines of coding and validating integrated is “”a very powerful tool,”” she said. “”We can wear different hats at different stages of the project.””

Kieron Quigley, an applications environment specialist at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology in Edmonton, said he was focused on Ballmer’s announcement of the Microsoft Office Information Bridge Framework. IBF uses XML and Web services to allow Office applications to draw on enterprise data — “”a fantastic conduit”” for pulling in data from SQL and database servers, Quigley said.

“”Being able to pull that into the workflow is going to be a challenge,”” he said.

IBF is part of Microsoft’s strategy to build a general-purpose framework on top of .Net to make the platform and its applications extensible, Ballmer said — for example, using Exchange to build a collaborative backbone.

Ballmer also announced the availability of Web Services Enhancements 2.0, an add-on to Visual Studio .Net to ease development of applications that draw upon or provide Web services.

In conjunction with IBF, it makes Office a smart-client front

end for access to XML Web services, he said.

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