Gates talks convergence and why tech is fun

Gates talks convergence and why tech is fun

Bill Gates discusses the evolution of what the company calls connected entertainment

In an era when more and more people are downloading software over the Web do you think that Vista and the latest Office release will be the last of the sort of old school, big-bang product releases? Do you see, in the future, major upgrades available as a series of downloadable upgrades?

Well you can download Windows Vista as an upgrade; you can download Office as an upgrade. Those are things that we've enabled. A lot of the core features are available to you on an ongoing basis because you're connected up.

We will, every three years or so, have big upgrades to Office and Windows. Because when you want to change the scheduler, when you want to add vision, when you want to add speech, when you want to make it so that it can discover all the devices like screens as you go by or connect up to your Palm -- to test the compatibility and get the developers enthused about that, will fit the major release paradigm. (But) a lot of the layers we can rev in a very agile way. We've seen some of that now. With the base investment we've made with Vista, we'll be a lot more agile on those upper layer elements.

For years Microsoft executives including yourself seemed to want to avoid the hardware business. Now over the years that's been changing. You have Zune of course, and Xbox -- do you foresee a time when you get into other areas in terms of designing and building a product, albeit through contract manufacturers, on both the software and the hardware side?

Well the design side has always been a collaboration between us and the PC makers -- I see that with the HP touch screen device that they did with our Vista team or this new Sony Media Center, this really hot Toshiba portable that you don't have to connect up to dock. We do prototypes, you see that on the phones with the close relationships we have with the phone manufacturers.

I don't see any other form factors where we need to do hardware. I could be surprised on that. You know, we've seen some categories that have fairly special economics -- the subsidized video game and then the pre-eminent position Apple got into in the music players, and now us coming and saying, hey, we can provide something that's even better.

You don't want to get into the phone business for example?

No, no, no -- we love the variety and the innovation that our partners bring in to that phone space. Look at the different ways you're gonna have mapping and wallet and media, and the different input and screen sizes. It's great that Windows Mobile is going to be out on hundreds of form factors -- no single company could provide that.

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