One-on-One with Bill Gates

JENNINGS: What does it mean to be the Chief Software Architect?

GATES: Well it means that there are a lot of business issues and concerns and you know final decision making that the CEO Steve Ballmer gets to worry about, and I get to worry about the technical strategy. What are we doing with the products? And so five years ago, when I was still CEO, the percentage of time I got with the engineers was going down. It had gotten down to almost less than a third of my time. And now I get to focus the vast majority of my time on exactly those software design issues.

JENNINGS: Can you tell me two things that you have changed your mind about in the last year about, in the last year, about technology?

GATES: Well let's see. There are some things that we are always thinking about. For example, when will speech recognition be good enough for everybody to use that? And we have made a lot more progress this year on that. I think we will surprise people a bit on how well we will do on our speech recognition. Also the idea of how the phone and the PC are coming together. Where you will be able to see the calls that you missed, or even when your phone rings see immediately who that is that's calling, or control how that is forwarded, or even set it up so that the screen is part of your interaction. We are seeing that as increasingly important and are putting a lot of research into that.

JENNINGS: And are there a couple of things about technology in the last couple of years that you have simply said -- don't need to go there, don't want to go there or can't go there?

GATES: Anywhere that we can have software work for somebody and make them more productive, help them stay in touch. We're going to write software for them. So we do software for watches, for phones, for TV sets, for cars. And some of these take a long time to catch on. In fact it's just this last year our software for cable systems, for TV watching, has really gotten a lot of customers and we have working on that for over 10 years.

JENNINGS: Do you struggle sometimes between being a hugely successful businessman and being a software architect?

GATES: No, I don't think there is any contradiction there. The way to be successful in the software world is to come up with breakthrough software, and so whether it's Microsoft Office or Windows, its pushing that forward. New ideas, surprising the marketplace, so good engineering and good business are one in the same.

JENNINGS: You have so many opportunities available to you on a daily basis, more than most people in their lives, when you got up this morning and headed for work, what did your day look like? What's on the agenda today which is utterly fascinating?

GATES: Well, I have a meeting today with our people doing search. And that's an area where Google has got out in front, does a very good job. We're sort of the David vs. Goliath in that (chuckles) particular battle so we'll have fun talking to them about their progress. I am meeting with our tablet people about the idea of carrying text books around. They'll have just a tablet device that they can call up the material on. That's been a dream for a long time, we're making progress there. So review of the software projects and encouraging them in terms of what they are doing well and telling them who else they need to work with. That's the primary thing on my schedule.

JENNINGS: What about off the job?

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