Microsoft is at the tail end of its Microsoft Health and Life Sciences Developer and Solutions Conference in Atlantic City. Pharm Exec couldn’t make the show, but Bill Gate’s life sciences crew was nice enough to give us a call and fill us in on the launch of its new development tool kit and how quickly pharma is adopting Vista.
The big news out of AC is the release of Microsoft’s Office for Business Applications (OBA) for the life sciences industry. This set of tools allows software developers to build applications that seamlessly connect back-end enterprise systems with MS Office program.
Paul Mattes, Microsoft’s Managing Director of Health and Life Sciences, gave us an example in layman’s terms. Picture an executive typing an article in MS Word. He stumbles on a compound name and isn’t sure of the correct spelling. MS Word will underline the compound, much like it would for a misspelled word, and the author has the option of either querying the word against the company’s compound database in its enterprise system or even importing the molecular structure of the compound directly into MS Word. The best part is that you never have to switch programs or computers to get the information.
Another application in development using the OBA tool kit would allow a person working on an FDA submissions document to make changes in MS Word and then press a single key to send it to the next person. The most useful aspect? A digital signature is created for every person that touches the document. Sadly, Mattes said that there is no program in development that would allow pharma to click a button and send the document directly to the FDA.
The company plans to have some of the programs developed through OBA for show at the upcoming DIA convention in June.
The big question on my mind, however, was how Microsoft’s embattled Vista operating system is being accepted by pharma, an industry that is slow to adopt new technology when it doesn’t have a ton of negative press attached to it.
“Everyone is interested in Vista and we are actively engaging in deployment,” Mattes said. “There is a business imperative right now to drive collaborative efficiencies right now. We are seeing more and more customers right now that see Vista as an enabler right now. Vista is seeing a higher adoption rate than XP when it first launched. However. adoption started in areas that aren’t subject to regulatory restraints.” Translation: Not pharma.