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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

Going to the new UI (user interface) in Office was a bit of a risk. What are the new risks that are keeping you up at nights these days?

Well the fun of being in this business is that it's always changing so you need to make bets. We made the IPTV bet a long time ago and that's just starting to pay off. We made the Xbox bet and people are just starting to see we're in a very strong position there. The Tablet bet, you know, people don't quite see that yet. Media Center -- some do, some don't. Some of the more advanced things that are still in research -- vision, speech -- I believe will be mainstream. We put massive amounts into those and they'll come into the typical experience that you have with the PC.

New ways of programming for parallel computing: That's a very important thing for us as these new chips have so many cores in them, and Microsoft has the right pieces -- the right operating system, the right applications, the right development tools to show people how to write that next generation of applications. So you know, we gotta make sure we're hiring the best people and we've always had incredible competitors like we do today. It keeps this business a lot of fun.

You mention the Tablet PC, it seems that's been dear to your heart over the years ...

Absolutely.

... and WinFS. As you transition to more of a part-timer in the years ahead are there any aspects of the Microsoft business that you'll want to keep closer tabs on than others, projects that you're particularly interested in?

Well as I in mid-2008 stop being full-time, the overall technical oversight of the overall strategy, Ray Ozzie together with Craig Mundie pick that up so they'll have that. Those two together with Steve Ballmer will decide what projects they want to pick for my part time work and focus it on. There's a good chance they'll pick some things I've always believed in and shown passion for and that even 18 months from now might not be done so sure, Tablet I think is a good candidate for that list. And Steve's excited about some work I'm doing and some other new areas as well.

As you plunge more and more into philanthropy, looking back at your legacy in technology and the lessons you've learned as a business leader, what big lesson have you learned that's really informed your work in philanthropy, what are you taking away from the world of business that's shaping how you approach philanthropy?

Well the original optimism that I had when Microsoft got started -- that if you got a bunch of smart people together, gave them a clear mission, a bit of resources, they can do unbelievable things -- that I think is one of the most powerful things I take into tough challenges like vaccines for AIDS or malaria. How do we find these great people who come from different locations, how do we get behind them, how do we look at what those risks are, make that a very high bandwidth, very high morale type process? Some people, when they see tough problems, they think wow, is that solvable? My coming in with my optimism and resources often can, I hope, drive those things forward. That's certainly been a magic formula for Microsoft. I hope it works in those tough areas as well.

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