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2004 World Technology Awards Winners & Finalists

Will Poole

Please describe the work that you are doing that you consider to be the most innovative and of the greatest likely long-term significance.

Since its’ inception, the personal computer has revolutionized the way people work and communicate at home and on the job. Over the years the use of a PC has evolved: from productivity tool to communication tool, from desktop computing to mobile computing. However, until recently its impact on the way people play at home has been more limited. People tended to look to the PC as a tool to help them be more productive rather than as a way to have fun. That was the perception Windows XP Media Center Edition was developed to change.

With the launch of Windows XP in October 2000, we put a tool in consumers’ hands that made it easier for them to do everyday tasks like creating music lists, building home videos and storing digital photos. It was clear with the success of Windows XP that users wanted a mechanism for bringing together the content they enjoy in an easy and integrated manner. However, with the ongoing proliferation of technology in the home, users also wanted simplicity and less clutter. With Media Center Edition, we took the user experience of Windows XP to the next logical step, leveraging those advances to make it easier to enjoy digital photos, music, videos and TV experiences in a whole new way that was relaxed and simple. What started in 2000 as a subtle shift soon became a fundamental transformation.

Media Center Edition set out to change the ecosystem of the home, solving the problem of seamless media experiences. Users no longer had to rely on multiple products such as a TV, home stereo, DVD player, and home PC to enjoy their favorite media. Microsoft knew that if the consumer electronics appliances and experiences were combined, the end result would be a seamless experience for consumers that would enhance their digital lives.

With the release of Windows XP Media Center Edition and the availability of the first Media Center PCs in October 2002, we and our partners were the first to offer consumers integrated, simple, and convenient digital entertainment. Created to deliver the best of both computing and entertainment on a home computer, Media Center PCs provided PC users with a full range of productivity and communication programs. Media Center Edition provided consumers with a complete PC running the most fully-featured version of Windows XP, and included a whole host of entertainment features such as a DVD player, TV and personal video recorder (PVR), CD player, video jukebox and digital photo center. From the inside-out, Media Center Edition was designed to give users the flexibility to use the PC in the traditional manner – at your desk with a mouse and keyboard – or as an all-in-one media center that puts digital content at your fingertips with a remote control.

Our innovation with Media Center Edition has turned the PC into a great central hub for enjoying all forms of digital entertainment, all from the comfort of a couch on a single device, using a single remote control. The strength and stability of the platform has also provided other technology software companies with an opportunity to reach out and service their customers in innovative new methods. For example, Windows XP Media Center Edition allowed companies such as Movielink, CinemaNow and Napster the ability to give consumers more access to new entertainment choices with less effort including video and music on demand via Media Center Edition’s easy to use user interface and remote control functionality.

With Windows XP Media Center Edition, we are taking a very important first step towards delivering a digital entertainment ecosystem that allows user the ability to have more fun, learn and explore, and stay connected. We will continue to refine the product to offer even more functionality and innovation for consumers over the next several years.

Brief Biography

A longtime technology innovator with a strong customer focus, Will Poole, the Senior Vice President of Microsoft Corp.’s Windows Client organization, is responsible for the Windows desktop operating system used in over 500 million PCs around the world. Windows Client is one of Microsoft’s seven business divisions, responsible for approximately 30% of corporate revenues. Windows Client delivers all Windows desktop, living-room, and laptop products, including the latest innovations in the Windows family: Windows XP Professional and Home Editions, Windows XP Media Center Edition and Windows XP Tablet PC Edition.

Prior to assuming leadership of Windows Client, Will headed up the Windows New Media Platforms Division, comprised of three fast-moving areas of the Windows® business: the Digital Media Division, the eHome Division and the Trusted Platforms Technology Group. Over the past six years, Will has been instrumental in developing Microsoft’s platform strategy for new media, including streaming media and digital rights management. His vision and enthusiasm for the future of digital media has been key in securing the company’s strategic relationships with leading media and entertainment content providers, in developing broad engagements with the consumer electronics industry, and in establishing Windows as one of the leading media platforms for consumer and enterprise use.

Will joined Microsoft in 1996 with the acquisition of eShop Inc., which he co-founded in 1991 and which he served as president and chief operating officer. Previously, he spent five years in senior marketing and engineering management roles at Sun Microsystems Inc., focusing on advanced desktop environments and PC compatibility. Will holds a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Brown University.

Outside Microsoft, Will enjoys working with startup companies, and advising entrepreneurs on market strategies and growth plans. He also enjoys bicycling and multi-hull sailing. In his spare time, he builds furniture and indulges in home audio/video automation.