November 15, 2006 4:13 PM PST

The two sides of Bill Gates

PALO ALTO, Calif.--There were two Bill Gateses on stage Wednesday at Stanford University: the philanthropist, and the hypercompetitive Microsoft co-founder and chairman.

While he spoke of prosperity not being a zero-sum game, he also espoused the need for Microsoft to outmaneuver rivals like Apple Computer, Google and Sony.

"We want to either be No. 1 or on our way to being No. 1," Gates said while speaking at the third annual TechNet Innovation Summit, hosted by a membership of technology CEOs.

Bill Gates Bill Gates

Gates, whose comments came during a taped interview with TV host Charlie Rose, showed he hasn't lost any gusto for Microsoft's leadership in technology, despite having announced plans to relinquish his day-to-day role with the company by 2008 to concentrate on philanthropy.

Gates, for example, characterized the success of the Apple iPod as "phenomenal, unbelievable, fantastic." But to put its own Zune out ahead, Microsoft built features into the media player that the iPod lacks. "We're doing connected entertainment analogous to the Xbox," he said, in the hopes of nabbing new customers and luring those ready to switch.

On Sony, Gates said that Microsoft has traded places with the PlayStation maker because it shipped a sleeker, lower-cost Xbox 360 a year earlier than expected, before Sony came out with its PlayStation 3, he said. (On its first try, Sony beat it to the punch.)

"We get what you get in the game industry--the chance to play again. Here we are with Xbox 360 playing by different rules," Gates said.

Addressing the subject of Google, Gates said the search giant might be most like Microsoft, given its ferocity for hiring smart, talented people and its business focus.

"They are a software company--they deliver a lot of it over the Internet," Gates said. "We overlap a lot (and) the overlap will get larger over time, which is fine."

Still, the competition is "fun for both companies" and encourages innovation in areas like mapping and language translation, he said.

In online media, Gates hinted that Microsoft has created a technology that lets people belong to many different online communities and control their activities and personal information from one interface.

"We have technology that will make it easy to belong to many communities and see them in one place. We have some software that will actually put the user back in control," Gates said.

Although Microsoft is still entangled in legal problems with European regulators, Gates said he was "pretty pleased" with where things ended up on Vista. The company did make some changes to the software, but he said that most of the major new features will not be taken out in Europe.

"For the first time we said to them, 'Hey, you're a sovereign, we do what you say. Should we take this feature out?' None of those regulators told us to make major changes. We were happy with the dialogue (and) all the neat things are in there," he said.

Gates said it boils down to whether regulators are looking at making changes that benefit consumers or competitors. He said that competitors always want to see Microsoft limited.

"Hey, if you can castrate some guy's product, why not," he said.

Some of the issues on the foreground for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which he will run full time in 2008, are global health and education.

"Most people in the world are living in developing countries...and of the last 1,500 (modern inventions), only 20 have anything to do with the majority of mankind," Gates said.

Gates compared the challenge of global health to the advent of the microprocessor. At the time, he said, there was an opportunity to be had in microprocessors, but someone needed to put all the pieces together. Similarly, someone needs to put all the pieces together to bring about solutions to global health issues like malaria.

Gates also spoke fondly about his friend Warren Buffett's recent multibillion contribution to the Gates Foundation, which has doubled its endowment.

"He's let us dream far more," Gates said. "I get to make sure that it goes back to society (in a specific way). That's kind of daunting."

Still, Gates said he will miss his work at Microsoft, even though he'll still be at the software maker part time after 2008.

Given the chance to do it all over again, Gates said he might have pursued medicine with the potential to help improve billions of people's lives, he said.

"That would have been a close second. Even if I had known (about medicine), I don't think it would have drawn me away...from the personal computer. I don't think it would have topped it," Gates said.

CNET News.com's Ina Fried contributed to this report.

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Bill Gates, regulator, Microsoft TechNet, Microsoft Xbox, Xbox 360

27 comments

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There were 2 Bill Gates
1) Convicted Monopolist and greedy person;
2) Philanthropist who doesn't pay tax in his charity and tries to make himself look good, against the greedy convicted monopolist image that we know him by.
Posted by t8 (3716 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Please dont
breed...your ingnorance should not be passed on.
Posted by Lindy01 (443 comments )
Link Flag
Of course...
...you're right. He should do nothing with his billions, just hoard it. Screw all those people who might otherwise benefit from the Gates Foundation. You're such a jealous loser, it's almost sickening.
Posted by J_Satch (571 comments )
Link Flag
re
Of course 1 & 2 are related.

No matter how much of his ill-gotten wealth he gives away it won't clean off the scum he is saturated in.
Posted by qwerty75 (1164 comments )
Link Flag
Did he
say this "in a specific way" or did news.com just add it to dig on the man.

If you added it you should hand in what ever qualifications you have to write. They guy has the biggest charity ever....as in EVER. He has given more money then ANYONE EVER to help other people.

God why do I come here and read this BS...and then post.....FRAQ!!!!
Posted by Lindy01 (443 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Giving something back?
Conext is very important for a story, to be sure. And it's good that a lot of money is leaving Mr. Gates private coffers to help different communities. Where did that money come from in the first place? Is it reasonable to speculate on the methods used to acquire such vast wealth? Maybe we should defer Bill's canonisation until the miracles actually start.
Posted by Gort224 (1 comment )
Link Flag
Gates compared to a drug dealer
They both obtain large amounts of cash illegally.
They both give "free samples" to get you hooked, then squeeze you for everything they can.
They both harm society.
They are both convicted criminals, the only difference is Bill paid off the government not to put him in jail which is where he belongs.
Posted by Microsoft_Facts (109 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Microsoft_Fiction
1 - Selling software is perfectly legal.
2 - If people are getting "hooked", it must be powerful/good. I'm playing devil's advocate on this one, but still...
3 - If people are getting "squeezed", how is it they can still afford their new computers and their new software applications and operating systems?
4 - How does the commoditization of computers and software "harm society"?
5 - Show me the conviction. Admittedly, I didn't follow the case too closely so I don't know the specifics of the outcome.
6 - "Paid off the government"? So Bill flew into Dullas, checkbook in hand, went to "the government" and paid it off? Exactly who is "the government" that he paid off and where is your supporting evidence? Did he just set up a table by the Washington monument and have "the government" stand in line to collect their checks? Please explain.

Please don't let your hatred and jealousy blind you so completely. You come across as a sophomoric crusader.
Posted by J_Satch (571 comments )
Link Flag
You might also want to call..
..the likes of Warren Buffet, Bill Clinton, Bono etc etc all as drug dealers. Warren donated his entire fortune (a bigger contribution then a few million hypocrites like you would make in their lifetime) to Bills foundation. Its said that hate is blinding, I see why.
Posted by FutureGuy (742 comments )
Link Flag
You might also want to call...
...the likes of Warren Buffet, Bill Clinton, Bono etc etc all as drug dealers. Warren donated his entire fortune (a bigger contribution then a few million hypocrites like you would make in their lifetime) to Bills foundation. Its said that hate is blinding, I see why.
Posted by FutureGuy (742 comments )
Link Flag
Melodramatic
Convicted criminal? Sounds like your already hooked on something and it must be really good.
Posted by Akiba (220 comments )
Link Flag
I stick by what I said before
Bill is a business strategist first and computer person second. His upbringing was filled with competition and strategy board games the way today's kids are raised by the Simpsons.

That strategy based mind bit into the throat of computers "on the ground floor" and didn't let go. The Art of War applied to business as if Sun Zu where on the advisory board.

This isn't the place to re-list M$ questionable but successful practices; we all know them or read them daily from Fanboys.

Consider this.. even if he just walks around third world countries throwing money at problems, people will benifit. Money is Money, that's why we call it; "Money".

Now, if he can take that (screw everybody else out of the industry) business strategy mind and focus it on helping others rather than self gain (meglomeniacly and financially).. People in need will benifit hugely.

remember medical knowlege (not drug company IP) is closer to FOSS; cure a desease and the HOWTO document get's sent out to all the other medical organizations and everybody gains.
Posted by jabbotts (492 comments )
Reply Link Flag
The Cult of Open Source
Gates haters are generally from the so called Open Source Camp. You would tend to think that they would generally be made of good people who wish well for world. But every time I read the acute hypocrisy and jealousy portrayed the more I get turned off by this camp, not because the idea isnt good but proponents are mostly fanatics and cult figures who only aim is to avenge the demise of their outdated systems but trying to pull down Microsoft. Microsoft might have been hypercompetitive, but its not the first or the last company to have been fined for crossing the line. Failed companies (like Sun, IBM, Novell) all what to blame MS for their failure to execute, so convenient.
The hateful comments on this site, like those who even compare Bills contribution to that of a drug dealer (how high (on drugs) does one have to be to make such a comment) just shows how blinding hate can be that one cant even appreciate the good in people. I salute people like Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Bill Clinton, Bono etc who try their best to make the world better and I despise those who spend their lives throwing mud at them.
Posted by FutureGuy (742 comments )
Reply Link Flag
^^The Cult of Astroturf ;)
Man, must not pay too awful well to shill for MSFT these days, does it?

By the by, It ain't Gates that gets the hate - it's a huge number of tactics --many of which have landed MSFT in court w/ a guilty verdict as an illegaly operating monopoly-- that raises ire.

/P
Posted by Penguinisto (5042 comments )
Link Flag
Don't blame Open Source
The people who actually contribute to Open Source are typically a lot more understanding of how the real world works. Don't let the low IQ zealots who mindlessly repeat every charge they hear and perpetually invent new ones to blame MS or BG for all their ills. Those people have always existed, 75 years ago they'd have worn white sheets and hoods but mindless haters have always existed and probably always will.
Posted by aabcdefghij987654321 (1721 comments )
Link Flag
Gates is no philanthropist
He gives, and excepts something in return.

More sales, better image, tax breaks, etc. A true philanthropist is selfless. Gates is not.

If a bank robber gives half the stolen money to charities, is he a hero? hardly, and Gates is worse then your average bank robber.
Posted by qwerty75 (1164 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Look up the meaning of philantropist
Meanwhile why don't you tell us what you think Bill Gates is expecting in return for his charitable gifts?

Likewise you claim his money is all stolen which is simply and obviously not true.
Posted by aabcdefghij987654321 (1721 comments )
Link Flag
Hatred is amazing
I'm no Bill Gates fanboy. But...

It is just amazing to see people who have probably never donated more than $100 in their entire life to anyone, let alone help others, regardless of the motive behind it, take potshots at Bill Gates.

Start with the person in the mirror. Before you accuse anyone doing legitimate business of stealing money, ask yourself, how much good have you done to the community around you. How many poor or under-privileged people have you helped? How have you contributed to society than being a menace who simply whines and complains about rich people by playing the victim?

C'mon, get a life. Just start by trying to stop being such a loser.

- Ravi Jayagopal
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.LinkOverLoad.com" target="_newWindow">http://www.LinkOverLoad.com</a>
Posted by ravijp (5 comments )
Link Flag
Those who love Gates forget his history
He is an absolutely ruthless business man, one who leveraged a
monopoly to squeeze nnovative competitors out of the marketplace
and out of business.

The world is not better off for the under-performing products and
the squelching of actual innovation.

The philanthropy is WONDERFUL. It's what he SHOULD be doing. I
hope it lets him sleep better at night.
Posted by mgreere (332 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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