Palma.—Some of the best computer minds in the world are meeting in Palma at the moment at the annual convention of the Microsoft Innovation Centers, who are gathered at the Parc Bit technology park on the outskirts of Palma, writes Jason Moore.

These research and development centres are now dotted across the world and are helping computer giant Microsoft develop some of their latest systems. It is the first time that the Innovation Centres have held their annual convention outside the United States. “Majorca is home to our Tourism Innovation Centre which is one of the most successful centres of its type in the world,” said Kenik Hassel, who is the head of Microsoft's Innovation Centres. He welcomed delegates to Palma yesterday morning. “The Palma centre is an excellent example of a good working relationship between the public and private sector, as the Balearic government is also involved,” he added. “Our greatest challenge for the future is improving the experience of the computer user. It means going further than the keyboard or the computer mouse. It involves developing voice and body activated systems such as the Kinect system for the X-Box 360 games consoles which is body activated without the need for a mouse or a keyboard,” he said. The Microsoft boss said that the normal Personal Computer was not dead just yet despite the growth in so-called tablet computers and smart phones.

He added that their experience had showed them that users preferred different systems for different jobs and roles.
Microsoft will launch its new version of the its highly successful Windows operating system later this month.
Hassel said that Windows 8 would be a common operating system for personal computers, tablets and smart phones. The Microsoft boss said that ensuring computer safety was one of Microsoft's principal concerns and that they were working hard at all their centres and universities to guarantee security.

Hassel forecast that in the years to come there would be major advances which would make computer technology faster and more flexible.
Microsoft's network of Innovation Centres is gradually growing across the world as the technology revolution continues. The Palma convention has 80 delegates from 33 different countries.

Drake Mirembe, heads up the Microsoft office in Uganda. He said yesterday that 60 percent of the population now had access to a smart phone and the computer industry now represented six percent of Uganda's Gross Domestic Product. He said that the industry had enjoyed major growth in his country.

In countries like Armenia, where Microsoft also has an Innovation Centre, the computer industry is now one of their biggest employers. Michelle Chapman, who works at Microsoft's headquarters in Washington said that one of their biggest challenges for the future was to get everyone working together to create even better software and computer operating systems.

The Microsoft Convention in Palma is a real coup for the island which was underlined by the Vice President of the Balearic Government, Pep Iganasi Aguilo in his opening address to the delegates at the conference.

He said that it clearly underlined the fact that there was more to the Balearics than just sun and sea. The three day event will be closed on Friday by Carmen Vela, Secretary of State for Research of the Spanish government, the U.S. ambassador to Spain, Alan D. Solomont and the President of the Balearic government Jose Ramon Bauza.

Aguilo said that he hopes that all delegates would enjoy the island and encouraged them to meet and discuss their ideas with the local business community which could lead to a wide range of new opportunities.