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Champions 2.0

March 12, 2007

Don RuleMicrosoft
Don Rule
Platform Strategy Advisor

How has your company adapted and responded to the changing economic climate in the past five years when so many others companies did not?

Microsoft has learned to survive and thrive during dramatic market changes such as the advent of GUIs, LANs, and the Internet by finding ways to lead the charge into new technologies. Because of this we have been in the unique position to sustain and even increase our product investments over the past several years. As a result we have been able to diversify our product base and strengthen our platforms to accommodate technology shifts such as Service Oriented Architectures and Software as a Service.

What is your vision for the future of the life sciences market over the next several years?

This is an exciting time when the forward-thinking research of the last half-century will begin to have an impact on our everyday lives. Within the next several years, much of what we consider science today will be transformed into technology for molecular diagnostics, rational design of drugs, and predictive healthcare. No single company has the breadth or depth of vision to be able to bring this about alone, so this is an opportunity for companies that partner effectively to make bench-to-bedside solutions a reality.

What products and services does your company provide and what special capabilities do they offer the life sciences market?

Two products that are resonating in the life science market are the new Office Server that provides rich content management, collaboration, workflow, and data analysis features, and the Compute Cluster Server which enables “personal supercomputing” that is easy to integrate into existing environments. These are both great end user products as well as platforms that will enable software vendors to bring very competitive products to market quickly. There are also some new embedded technologies such as HD Photo for reducing the size and increasing the fidelity of biomedical images. The Microsoft Robotics Studio is also very compelling for companies that are automating their lab environments.

Partnerships are an effective way to track life science advances and ensure that your company delivers timely products and services. Which life sciences companies or organizations have you partnered with or invested in and why?

We currently have over 40 partners through the BioIT Alliance, and the interest has been growing as awareness increases. Given the fragmented nature of this market, our goal is to assemble the right set of partners to provide end-to-end solutions for Life Science that work together predictably and seamlessly. We want to bridge the information “silos” that exist now between the discovery, development, and clinical applications to accelerate progress in translational medicine.

What are your most exciting products and initiatives in development, and how will they improve life science research?

Sometimes the most important things that you can do are the least exciting. Life scientists are plagued by the mundane problem of trying to gain insight from data that is not well described and difficult to integrate. My goal is to work with the Alliance toward reducing this problem by applying open standards to information sharing so that smart people can spend their time on the real issues in life science, drug discovery and personalized medicine. In the end we will enable our partners to provide exciting vertical solutions and that will be very satisfying.

Where do you see your company in five years?

When I joined Microsoft in 1993, I was pretty sure that I had missed the peak, so I have learned not to make financial predictions. What I do know is that we have barely scratched the surface in working with our partners to apply Microsoft technology to life science challenges. From this perspective the next five years are looking pretty good.

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