As promised on Friday, here are links to the Q&A interviews with Steve Mills and Bill Gates.  Now please, can we keep this discussion on-topic?

Gates: "IBM isn't doing that much":

Q: Microsoft has made some acquisitions in the collaboration software business and built some of its own technology. IBM is developing some interesting technology, too. How do you see the competition between the two companies evolving?

A: Well, frankly, IBM isn't doing that much. You can go track. The only product they have left that relates to information workers is [Lotus] Notes. And you can go and get the data from the analysts of how they've lost market share with Notes.

Q: What about their new Workplace product?

A: Well, when people want to look at business information, as far as I know, people use Excel to navigate business information. When people want to be notified about things and organize their communications, it's the Microsoft e-mail client. Outlook and Outlook Express are the primary tools people are using there.

IBM made a serious try with OfficeVision and the Lotus stuff. And maybe they'll introduce a new word processor. Who knows? But in terms of sitting down and thinking about office workers -- how do they spend time, is it in meetings, how should they deal with their priorities -- that's integrated into Outlook because that's where you want to see these new things happen. ....
Q: Earlier, you were somewhat dismissive about IBM's ability in this business. Do you think IBM will not be a significant competitor in the collaboration software market for you guys?

A: I think IBM's success in the productivity software business will stay the same that it has been. Do you know anybody using DisplayWrite, OfficeVision, or 1-2-3? What they have is they have a bunch of individual products that they put under an umbrella. WebSphere is an umbrella name. Workspace is an umbrella name.

They are IBM. So you always have to take them seriously, just like we took OfficeVision seriously and their acquisition of Lotus seriously. The only thing really left from Lotus at this point is the Notes piece. And you can look at what has happened with the share of that. They're not even defending what they've had very well at this point
There's something slightly unprofessional I'd like to say to Mr. Gates about that.  And I am certain I'll be able to say it with confidence next week.

Mills: Microsoft is just "Saber Rattling":
Q: Both IBM and Microsoft are investing heavily in this area. Does that speak volumes about the future of this market?

A: Clearly, it's critically important to their franchise. Everybody understands that. But there's a fundamental and profound difference between what the two companies are doing. There's no comparison in the breadth and depth of collaboration that we're delivering today vs. Microsoft. Their world is the world of e-mail, not the world of collaboration. They're doing a lot of saber-rattling around collaboration. But the Exchange environment has never delivered anything close to the kind of collaboration that the Notes environment delivers.  ...

Q: So what they're subbing out then isn't so much Windows but rather Office.

A: Exactly. This is not a Windows vs. Linux discussion. It's really two different models, two different approaches to delivering collaboration function to business.

One approach, I think people are very familiar with. It's the classic heavy, expensive Microsoft desktop environment, with the prospects of having to convert to the latest versions to maintain support. That roadmap is a fairly familiar one to business buyers, and they've been on it for years -- frankly, with mixed reaction to the benefit of it. Costly. Expensive. Lots of fees paid to Microsoft. Heavy patch management. Virus control.

And we're offering the alternative. We're saying, "Wait a minute. There's another way." The model of the other way begins with recognizing that the browser/portal-based approaches have already yielded reduced costs. And that approach can be extended and enriched and made very functional and capable for different classes of work where a pure portal-based approach really isn't appropriate for the type of work because there's more complex collaboration to be done.

We're going to give you all the richness of collaboration that you saw from IBM historically with Notes, translated to the next generation of technology.
That's a very powerful message.

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