Interview with Bill Gates -- "I would rather make a bet than just sit and watch" (page 3)

Interview with Bill Gates

Apr 9, 2001

The future is something you build

Q:In the age of broadband, will the society really become affluent? Sony Chairman Idei says that he sees darkness in the next five years.

A:Nobody has a perfect view of the future. The future is not something you ask a fortune-teller to tell you but something you build. Somebody's got to do it. Some things we do will be right and some things will be wrong. In the face of uncertainty, there are people who just sit and watch, while there are people who move to make an action. I prefer to be the latter. I go out and hire the top engineers, develop a vision and do it.

Q:Will broadband change the world?

A:The world is already changing. The impact is greater with the always-on connection rather than with faster data transfer. Having to wait for dial-up connection isn't really a good environment to obtain information. Always-on connection makes people want to know about scorecards, weather news and stock price on a real-time basis. Whether you have always-on connection or not will make a difference in how a family obtains information. High technology is indeed changing the world. Take music for example. The convenience of working with music is radically better. You can choose the order of things and you're in charge. Ask young people if they would go back to the days when they had to go get a CD, open it up, put it in, listen to just those songs in just that order. Nobody can go back to those days. It's not just music. It's the same with photos. The world is changing and it's companies like Microsoft and Sony that are changing the world.

Q: Is Sony Microsoft's rival or partner?

A:I know you're trying to get me to disagree with Idei. But that's not so. Idei and I meet with each other all the time. We met with each other this week. When we talk about the future, his vision and my vision are the same at the 90% level. We are not that different in our visions. For example, Sony became our partner with TabletPC that we announced just this March. We're both taking a risk and we're making bets about its future. We also believe that broadband gaming is an important future market. In that case, we happen to be competitors. But I think it's very healthy what comes out of that.

People are the most important

Q:What is the biggest headache that you have right now.

A:I have some challenges but I don't get headaches. We always have to renew our technology. For each field we challenge, we have excellent people. We have competitors in all the fields we are in, including PocketPC and Xbox. So, we have to keep pushing ourselves and make sure that the developers understand these strategies. My job is fun because there's a lot to worry about and a lot of things we have to do well. The basic principles are to hire the best people, to listen to the feedback from our customers and to focus on software development. I tell my people that is why Microsoft has had the success that it's had.