An international gathering hosted by Microsoft this week in Budapest examined how young people entering the work force will shape office technology's future.

The meeting, ending Thursday, was organized by the Microsoft Office Information Worker Board of the Future, an effort by Microsoft to gauge the social drivers that will shape the technology requirements for the next generation of information workers. This year’s representatives, university students from around the world, convened in Budapest for three days of workshops, brainstorming sessions and presentations.

Selected from more than 500 applicants, this year's board had representatives from Brazil, China, Hungary, India, Israel, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Sweden and the US.

During the conference, the student participants analyzed the results of a survey conducted on an 18-to-24-year-old group. The analysis was led by Daniel Rasmus, director of information work vision in Microsoft’s Information Worker New Markets Group, and Wolfgang Ebermann, general manager of the Microsoft Information Worker Business Group for the Europe, Middle East and Africa region.

The group looked for patterns in social and technology-adoption trends. In analyzing the results of the survey, the students made recommendations that would help Microsoft better understand this segment of its customer base.

Microsoft officials say all businesses should be thinking about the younger generation. According to estimates by the UN and others, the total number of young people aged 15 to 24 is more than 1 billion worldwide. Eighty million strong in the US alone, the "NetGen" is larger even than its parents' post-World War II baby boomer generation.

The NetGen is particularly important because it is the first generation to have grown up in a world where the Internet and mobile communication devices always existed. Understanding this unique perspective will help craft better products to meet the needs of the work force as its level of technological sophistication evolves.

According to Microsoft, Office Information Worker Board of the Future allows the company to look five to 10 years into the future at how the next generation will integrate technology into its work style. The board held its first conference in July last year in Redmond, Washington.