I find it more than a little comical that Microsoft CFO Chris Liddell didn't get any questions about Yahoo and Bill Gates did get asked about it at a SharePoint conference.
Even when Yahoo is not openly discussed, it's always on people's minds. I find myself wanting to ask nearly every Microsoft executive to answer a question two ways, addressing their answers both if the Yahoo deal goes through and if it does not.
That's not to say Gates, CEO Steve Ballmer or anyone else at the company has much to say on the topic these days. A couple weeks back, Gates did outline some of Microsoft's thinking behind wanting Yahoo. But the company is largely in a public waiting game as its acquisitions team plots its next moves.
Anyway, back to the latest comments, Gates was asked Monday if the Yahoo deal goes through, what impact that would have on the SharePoint roadmap.
"I don't think whether or not we end up doing the Yahoo merger or not has any real direct impact to SharePoint," Gates said, according to a transcript of his speech. "Obviously it represents the idea that we're very serious about competing in consumer search," he said. "We've learned a lot at the company, in terms of how you build up the data center with hundreds of thousands of servers, and you are seeing a benefit, in terms of how we think through automating the data center, both our own, as we host SharePoint and Exchange, but also what are these software management things that we can carry over into customer data centers."
As for the proposed deal, Gates said, "in general, it shows our bullishness about search and software, whether or not specifically it happens, it's hard to speculate on."
Meanwhile, Gates was also asked at the SharePoint event which presidential candidate he was supporting, although he declined to offer a name.
"Both Microsoft and my foundation are pretty clear that we have causes that we believe in," Gates said. "In the foundation, global health is the big priority. And we actually work on an organization called One.org, that we helped finance, that went out and got each of the candidates to speak about what they would do relative to global health."
He noted that the Web site has video with McCain, Clinton, Obama, all making "pretty strong commitments."
"But if you want to see the nuances on that issue, I would encourage you to go up and look at that site," Gates said. "I'm not making any particular public comment beyond that."