Weblogs (blogs), online communities and spontaneous websites will be the key to collaborative working in future, according to Microsoft.
Speaking at Microsoft's Chief Executive Summit the company's chairman and chief software architect Bill Gates predicted that 'bottom-up' collaboration would be the new way of working.
Describing the corporate dilemma over how to give staff freedom without creating problems for the business, he said: "The next generation of collaboration is about bottom-up collaborative websites, where the IT department doesn't get involved."
Gates also pointed to blogging and Rich Site Summary notifications as easing the sharing of information.
"What blogging and these notifications are about is that you make it very easy to write something that you can think of, like an e-mail, but it goes up onto a website. And then people who care about that get a little notification.
"The ultimate idea is that you should get the information you want when you want it," he said.
Gates outlined Microsoft plans to use knowledge it has gained from the Microsoft Developer Network to create community-centric Office features.
And he promised that the company would make available to customers the tools it uses internally to track software and hardware reliability, and user satisfaction.
"We're taking these tools that we have used and handing them over to the IT departments," he said, but did not specify when.
Other developments highlighted by Gates included voice web portals and customer self-service software.
On the productivity front, Microsoft is working on email authentication technology, with the aim of fighting spam mail.
The company is urging mail vendors to agree over caller ID-style authentication protocols, which force strangers to identify themselves or risk being blocked by default.
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