The potential to increase sales is vast. Edward Crutchfield, chairman and chief executive of First Union, opened the conference by suggesting that the banking business had evolved to the point where "technology is the product". First Union, the sixth-largest US banking company, currently spends $650m a year on technology. "We'll spend that much every year as far as the eye can see," he said.
Gates said that the DNA-FS framework will allow them to link customers on the Internet with their existing computing systems. "It allows legacy systems to stay in place but gathers information into a customer point of view," he said, going on to argue that Microsoft's banking framework would be analogous to a "digital nervous system", linking disparate computing systems within banks to each other and to a rapidly evolving Internet being accessed by assorted digital devices. "It lets all servers work together, not just Windows but also Unix servers," Gates said.
Meanwhile, Microsoft has released the first upgrade to Internet Explorer 4. Version 4.01 contains bug and security fixes as well as extra keyboard commands and viewing features for disabled people.