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like is phenomenal for us. Having someone full-time thinking about that evolution is very, very important.
From a business point of view, what do you think is the bigger opportunity? Is it selling the servers and tools, or is it the advertising?
Gates: Well, advertising--nobody really knows what the limits to that are. There will be experimentation to having you watch ads while you're doing anything on the computer, because people will see if they can't make money that way.
I think the thing that will jump out over time--when you're in the context of buying, when you want to organize a trip, an event, pick a gift--will be tools far beyond search that help with that.
There is debate that just doesn't go away, between the Web services protocol stack called WS Start and the simpler approach of XML over HTTP. Do you think that you overengineered Web services?
Gates: I feel super good that we did the hard work (with Web services) and made that an industry standard for rich interoperability. The lead times for that--figuring what standards body to put them in, the testing with IBM products and all those things--that is the one we really needed to put the energy into. Now we can circle back and say, "OK, let's make sure that the tools for all that spectrum are very strong."
Gates: Well, it is a PC, and for a lot of people, it will be their second PC. And I'm a total believer in the tablet--I think it will be totally mainstream. Whatever it takes, Microsoft will be behind it to make it better and better. If I'm critical of us, I'd say that making it easy to have multiple PCs (and having) your "state" just show up on those PCs--that's been partly holding people back.
The Origami--you want to take it to meetings with you, but you don't want to think about syncing before you walk out to that meeting. (The information) should just be there.
You were critical of the $100 laptop idea for developing countries that's come out of the MIT Media Lab. Can you tell us what alternative approaches you're pursuing?
Gates: Anybody that is doing low-cost PCs--that's great. We love low-cost PCs. I do think you do need to think about the cell phone. We're doing some things to let it display on a TV-type screen. Because it's got a network, because it's got a business model, that will often be your first PC (equivalent, in a developing country).
Or (there could be) a shared PC where you go to a community center and you want a large screen and multiple people can stand around it. The PC industry is very, very competitive, so all the varieties (are) going to get tried. I think countries should let their marketplace figure out where's the training, where are the communications networks, where's the content.
It's a very complex thing that probably doesn't lend itself to a top-down approach, but everything that drives computing out to more people we are very, very enthusiastic about.
But you seem to prefer a cell phone attached to a TV?
Gates: No, I don't prefer any--to be clear, I think there's going to be a variety of form factors that relate to the different environments. After all, the communications cost is really the hardest thing here. We have PCs down at $200--and that's fine. Some of those even have a battery in them. So you don't miss out there--where you miss out is the broadband connection, the curriculum, the support--all the elements that can make it relevant.
Because, after all, we don't just want PCs out there. We want them out there connected and used and relevant so that they lead to more economic success. Certainly, between Microsoft and the (Bill and Melinda Gates) Foundation, I spend a lot of time in developing countries, looking at the realities. It's very complex to make sure you get all those pieces lined up.
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