Menu
Gates: Microsoft products 'need more than a tune-up'

Gates: Microsoft products 'need more than a tune-up'

"And when you have a lot of money, it allows you to go down a lot of dead ends"

Microsoft's software is due for major changes in order to transition effectively into the era of Cloud computing and mobility, the company's co-founder Bill Gates says in a Rolling Stone interview.

"Office and the other Microsoft assets that we built in the Nineties and kept tuning up have lasted a long time," he says. "Now, they need more than a tune-up. But that's pretty exciting for the people inside who say, We need to take a little risk and do some new stuff.'"

+[Also on Network World: Snowden advocates at SXSW for improved data security | Satya Nadella and Bill Gates's apron strings | Facebook buying WhatsApp for $16 billion +

He says Facebook's founder Mark Zuckerberg took such a risk in buying WhatsApp for $US19 billion and that he thinks it was a sound move. "I think his aggressiveness is wise although the price is higher than I would have expected," Gates says.

Microsoft was interested in WhatsApp, he says, not just for its technology but for its user list. "It's software; it can morph into a broad set of things once you're set up communicating with somebody, you're not just going to do text. You're going to do photos, you're going to share documents, you're going to play games together," he says. "Microsoft would have been willing to buy it, too. . . . I don't know for $US19 billion, but the company's extremely valuable."

He says Microsoft rival Google is in a similar situation where it has enough cash to pursue many varied technologies at once. "And when you have a lot of money, it allows you to go down a lot of dead ends. We had that luxury at Microsoft in the Nineties," he says. "You can pursue things that are way out there. We did massive interactive TV stuff, we did digital-wallet stuff. A lot of it was ahead of its time, but we could afford it."

He says that despite other factors, innovation is healthy in high tech. "Innovation in California is at its absolute peak right now," Gates says. "Sure, half of the companies are silly, and you know two-thirds of them are going to go bankrupt, but the dozen or so ideas that emerge out of that are going to be really important."

GATES TAKES ON SURVEILLANCE

Gates says that in light of revelations about NSA surveillance of U.S. phone records brought to light by Edward Snowden, use of surveillance should be better regulated. "There's always been a lot of information about your activities. Every phone number you dial, every credit-card charge you make. It's long since passed that a typical person doesn't leave footprints. But we need explicit rules," he says. "I actually wish we were having more intense debates about these things."

As for Snowden himself, Gates thinks that if he wanted to spark discussions about privacy, the former NSA contractor went about it the wrong way. "If he wanted to raise the issues and stay in the country and engage in civil disobedience or something of that kind, or if he had been careful in terms of what he had released, then it would fit more of the model of OK, I'm really trying to improve things,'" he says. "You won't find much admiration from me."

He says defining when surveillance is appropriate needs to be better defined. "Should surveillance be usable for petty crimes like jaywalking or minor drug possession? Or is there a higher threshold for certain information? Those aren't easy questions," he says.

"Should the rules be different for U.S. citizens versus non-US. citizens? There is the question of terrorist interdiction versus law-enforcement situations. If you think the state is overzealous in any of its activities, even if you agree with its sort of anti-large-scale-terrorism efforts, you might say, Well, I think the abuse will outweigh the benefits. I'll just take the risk.' But the people who say that sometimes having this information is valuable they're not being very articulate right now."

Tim Greene covers Microsoft and unified communications for Network World and writes the Mostly Microsoft blog. Reach him at tgreene@nww.com and follow him on Twitter @Tim_Greene.

Read more about software in Network World's Software section.


Follow Us

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags cloud computingMicrosoftinternetFacebookwirelessNetworkingsoftwareWhatsAppSXSW

Events

Featured

Slideshows

Meet the Reseller News 30 Under 30 Tech Awards 2020 winners

Meet the Reseller News 30 Under 30 Tech Awards 2020 winners

This year’s Reseller News 30 Under 30 Tech Awards were held as an integral part of the first entirely virtual Emerging Leaders​ forum, an annual event dedicated to identifying, educating and showcasing the New Zealand technology market’s rising stars. The 30 Under 30 Tech Awards 2020 recognised the outstanding achievements and business excellence of 30 talented individuals​, across both young leaders and those just starting out. In this slideshow, Reseller News honours this year's winners and captures their thoughts about how their ideas of leadership have changed over time.​

Meet the Reseller News 30 Under 30 Tech Awards 2020 winners
Reseller News Exchange Auckland: Beyond the myths — how partners can master cloud security

Reseller News Exchange Auckland: Beyond the myths — how partners can master cloud security

This exclusive Reseller News Exchange event in Auckland explored the challenges facing the partner community on the cloud security frontier, as well as market trends, customer priorities and how the channel can capitalise on the opportunities available. In association with Arrow, Bitdefender, Exclusive Networks, Fortinet and Palo Alto Networks. Photos by Gino Demeer.

Reseller News Exchange Auckland: Beyond the myths — how partners can master cloud security
Reseller News welcomes industry figures at 2020 Hall of Fame lunch

Reseller News welcomes industry figures at 2020 Hall of Fame lunch

Reseller News welcomed 2019 inductees - Leanne Buer, Ross Jenkins and Terry Dunn - to the fourth running of the Reseller News Hall of Fame lunch, held at the French Cafe in Auckland. The inductees discussed the changing face of the IT channel ecosystem in New Zealand and what it means to be a Reseller News Hall of Fame inductee. Photos by Gino Demeer.

Reseller News welcomes industry figures at 2020 Hall of Fame lunch
Show Comments