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Active Directory or SharePoint on premise--we've got to get those out (so people can) simply connect up to them. We're making great progress on that.
That's what makes this industry fun. Even Microsoft, with incredible research capabilities--the marketplace will come along and show us to put more into this and what is not paying off. We've got to be very dynamic. So far, throughout our history, our epitaph has been written 10 times, and so far, we're still alive. It's fun to see we're going through another one of those cycles.
And particularly, people think Google was born on this (Web application) paradigm, and (are wondering whether) any of the traditional software companies understand and can actually push this paradigm. Here at this conference, clearly, we're saying we've got the best tools for this paradigm, and we want to know where we should take it.
Last week, you said you're going after IBM. As you look at the next generation of applications across the board, who do you think is your primary competitor? Is it IBM and its platform, or is it Google and its Web platform?
Gates: When it comes to supplying enterprises and having that long-term relationship, we and IBM are hotly competitive in doing that.
Video: Mix '06: Gates keynote
From the stage of Mix '06, Bill Gates discusses building new online applications.
In terms of thought leadership, if someone said who's cool right now, obviously, Google would be high on the list there. Really, one thing they've done that's been key to their success (is search). We have to provide a better search experience--and get people to think about search in terms of these tasks, these contexts. We think we have a lot to contribute there. Not many people are brave enough to compete with something with that kind of scale and momentum. Well, we are.
Google bought a little company that does an online word processor, and there's talk of it doing an online calendar. Do you think it could assemble a Web "office" and compete with what you have?
Gates: I think they can do anything they want. Remember Orkut? That was a great social-networking thing that I don't think has been heard of for the last few years. They came out with an instant-messaging voice-type product.
Certainly, there will be lots of ways that people offer software over the Internet. There will be so many companies doing these things. It's not really appropriate to look at just one.
The idea that there will be complementary capability, where using rich-client capability and Web capability--that's a big theme from us. You can look through our history. We've been pretty rational as the fads roll through. Yes, there's a lot to be said for that, but that doesn't take away from the fact that you want--when not connected to the Internet--access to your information. You want richness and responsiveness that local applications can provide.
There's a lot of experimentation with business models. Are you concerned that some of the business models are not quite baked?
Gates: Well, I think we'll see the same types of things we always see, with lots of new companies and new ideas. Ninety percent will not be distinct enough or not have the right business model, and those will go away. And yet the 10 percent that emerge will show new and neat things. Take all the companies doing video today. If you asked me today which ones will be here five years from now, I couldn't really say and yet--I love using them. I think what (they've) got there is neat and exciting.
I do think some of the bigger players, like ourselves, Yahoo and Google, will be in that space, offering those capabilities as well. But there's room for some great success story to come out of it. I think it's a bit unclear, though, now how far it can go.
What problems do you want Ray Ozzie thinking about, as one of your chief technical officers?
Gates: He's a phenomenonal person, in terms that he thinks like a developer and thinks like an end user. He'll sit down and literally do story boards--if I want to do this scenario, how can I do very few screens to get to that?
Everything he's done in his career has been a leading-edge thing. He, more than anyone, is thinking: What is a "Live" application? How is it different from a classical application and, therefore, what services should Microsoft provide? He's gathered a top group of Microsoft people, and he's driving that idea of how to design a platform. But because he's Ray, he's keeping in mind those end-user things.
We wanted to hire Ray for decades--literally. But the timeliness of his coming in and knowing he's shaped his mind around what these new applications look
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