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Originally published Friday, June 27, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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Gates memos | Changing the World Together

Bill Gates articulates Microsoft's values in a 1999 memo.

Changing the World Together — 1999 Company meeting

September 17, 1999

From: Bill Gates

To: MS Domestic Employees: FTE Only; MS Corporate Employees: FTE Only

As a follow-up to yesterday's company meeting, and for those who were unable to attend, I wanted to share my thinking, and Steve's, about why we are so optimistic and enthusiastic about the next 25 years at Microsoft. It boils down to two key areas — our vision for technology and the values we live everyday.

Before I detail our vision and values, I want to make special mention of the Microsoft Giving Campaign, which launches today for the 16th straight year. One of the things that makes Microsoft such an exceptional place is the shared sense of opportunity to participate in our communities and support the non-profit and educational organizations we care about. On average, over 50 percent of eligible employees participate in the Giving Campaign annually. (<http://givingcampaign>;). I hope even more people will participate this year and take advantage of Microsoft's offer to match contributions, dollar for dollar, up to $12,000 a year.

Placing Our Technology Bets

Yesterday, I talked about some of the investments we're making as a company in order to stay ahead of the competitive curve. These are technology bets that we believe will empower customers, partners and our industry as a whole. Obviously, Windows 2000 is as important a product as we've ever shipped. I'm confident that customers will consider it well worth the wait in terms of its unmatched security, reliability, scalability and manageability features.

The other very significant focus for us in the years ahead will be providing software as a service. This won't in any way change our commitment to the PC. But adding to that focus, we will be developing exciting new technologies to provide software as a service across a range of devices in the enterprise, to small business and to consumers. The goal is to maximize simplicity, flexibility, manageability and responsiveness to customer needs and interests. Software as a service reflects a fundamental change in the way we will be designing, integrating, deploying, licensing and supporting technologies, so there's lots of exciting work ahead. For more information on this, you'll be able to view my presentation, as well as Steve's, at http://msw later today.

In addition to these two initiatives, we're also making significant investments in technology for new devices; advanced natural interfaces; a rich store with common tools, data access and unified search and workflow for files, applications, multimedia and other information; and an integrated platform for building and operating state-of-the-art distributed Web applications .

These kinds of technological commitments are crucial to our ability to remain the world's leading software company.

Living Our Values

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I also want to share some thoughts about another aspect of our business that I think is crucial to our long-term success. It's what I call living our values. These are a set of principles which have evolved since our founding, and which I believe capture the spirit, philosophy and day-to-day business practices of our company. They are not new values, but rather are a reinforcement of long-held company principles that underscore our relationships with customers, partners and employees. They also articulate the values and priorities that drive our business and communicate our commitment, as a company and as individuals. I encourage you to take the time to read and consider these. You'll continue to see and hear more about them over time.

Customers: Helping customers achieve their goals is the key to Microsoft's long-term success. We must listen to what they tell us, respond rapidly by delivering new and constantly improving products, and build relationships based on trust, respect and mutual understanding. We will always back up our products with unparalleled service and support.

Innovation: In an industry that moves at lightning speed, innovation is critical to our competitiveness. Microsoft's long-term approach to R&D, combined with our constant efforts to anticipate customer needs, improve quality and reduce costs will enable us to deliver the best products and technologies.

Partners: Helping our partners succeed and grow their businesses with the best platforms, tools and support is central to our mission.

Integrity: Our managers and employees must always act with the utmost integrity, and be guided by what is ethical and right for our customers. We compete vigorously and fairly.

People: Our goal is for everyone at Microsoft to develop a challenging career with opportunities for growth, competitive rewards and a balance between work and home life. In a fast-paced, competitive environment, this is a shared responsibility between Microsoft and its employees.

Entrepreneurial Culture: We want our employees to wake up every day with the passionate belief that their work is contributing to the evolution of technology, and making a real difference to the lives of millions of people. We will always preserve the lean, competitive and entrepreneurial culture that has enabled us to grow. We encourage our people to speak out, take risks and challenge conventional wisdom.

Diversity: We are committed to encouraging diversity in the workplace, not only at Microsoft but within our industry. We will practice equal opportunity in all hiring and promotions, and will help to expand access to technology and employment opportunities throughout our industry.

Community: Microsoft and its employees recognize that we have the responsibility, and opportunity, to contribute to the communities in which we live, in ways that make a meaningful difference to people's lives.

Looking to the future, I remain incredibly passionate and positive. First, because Microsoft continues to make many solid technological investments that will pay substantial dividends over the long run. And second, because of who we are as a company and the qualities that make Microsoft special.

Source: Microsoft

Link: http://www.microsoft.com/about/companyinformation/timeline/timeline/docs/di_changingtheworld.rtf (opens Word document)

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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