Microsoft to seek Air Force input

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — The U.S. Air Force will have a say in how Microsoft Corp. develops future products, said the software manufacturer's chief executive officer and the service's chief information officer.

The Redmond, Wash., company will give the Air Force greater input on the maturation of applications, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said today in a speech at the Air Force Information Technology Conference here.

Ballmer did not divulge which products they would be. But he said the Air Force deserves Microsoft's commitment to security, standards and licensing because it is the company's largest customer, with about 500,000 PCs using Microsoft products.

Air Force CIO John Gilligan said the service would work with the company on security.

"We need products with higher reliability and security, and we think with the Air Force and perhaps the broader segment of the federal government, that we can partner with Microsoft and others in the industry to accelerate our progress," Gilligan said in an interview this morning.

Government agencies can partner with the world's largest software company, Gilligan said. He cited the Air Force's and Microsoft's 88-day development of the service's Synchronized Airpower Management System, which uses Web applications and services to connect service systems and reduce the time for mission planning to execution. The system cuts the time from five hours to two in preparing an operation to dropping bombs on target, rescuing downed aircrews or delivering humanitarian assistance.

The Air Force is readying the system for combat, Gilligan said.

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