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Summary:

I’m up at Microsoft HQ with a group dubbed “leaders in various aspects of the web community” for a day that closed with an hour-long conversation with Bill Gates. Gates opened with remarks about recent products, as well as the coming ascension of Ray Ozzie and […]

I’m up at Microsoft HQ with a group dubbed “leaders in various aspects of the web community” for a day that closed with an hour-long conversation with Bill Gates. Gates opened with remarks about recent products, as well as the coming ascension of Ray Ozzie and the looming decisions to be made by the two of them regarding “how much ‘Liveness’ do we get into [upcoming] products.”

As for products, he hinted at partnerships with car companies to be announced at CES and mused at the vast difference in business models – small, private sales to the military versus advertising – that have been applied to the data Microsoft uses for Virtual Earth.

We each got to ask Gates one question. I asked which applications he forecast to live within the browser and which outside of it.

He replied that the distinction would come to be silly from a technical standpoint, but that the necessary movement toward web APIs does present challenges on the business side. “One of the things that’s actually held the industry back on this is, if you have an advertising business model, then you don’t want to expose your capabilities as a web service, because somebody would use that web service without plastering your ad up next to the thing.”

His solution wasn’t very specific: “It’s ideal if you get business models that don’t force someone to say ‘no, we won’t give you that service unless you display something right there on that home page.”

Then for the tease: “And, you know, [inside the browser and outside the browser are] moving towards each other, but there’s still a bit of a barrier there, and new technology, things we’re working on, really will change that.”

The conversation was meaty at times, but also quite relaxed. I don’t think anyone in the room didn’t have a blog, so I’m not going to recap every last word here.

Fun tidbits that emerged from other people’s questions: Gates has Wicked, among other musicals, on his Zune; as a kid, he never wanted to be an astronaut or a cowboy (rather, a lawyer, mathematician, and briefly economist); and he’s delaying buying the new season of 24 on DVD so that people will have something to give him for Christmas.

Update: Posts from other participants: Niall Kennedy on his question about Linux IP, Mike Arrington on his question about DRM, Steve Rubel with a summary of the Gates Q&A, Kelly Goto with a writeup of the day, Ryan Stewart with some remarks, Molly Holzschlag on her back-and-forth with Gates about Microsoft’s bad reputation on web standards, Chris Pirillo with his personal account.

By Liz Gannes

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  1. cool~~~
    will bill gate be the person who holds the greatest wealth?

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  2. Isn’t it silly asking the king of desktop apps about the future of silly apps?

    Better ask the guys at 37signals.

    For more, read:
    http://mediavidea.blogspot.com/2006/12/why-google-yahoo-and-microsoft-should.html

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  3. Good Question Om…

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  4. I found one of the answers interesting:

    “One of the things that’s actually held the industry back on this is, if you have an advertising business model, then you don’t want to expose your capabilities as a web service, because somebody would use that web service without plastering your ad up next to the thing.”

    Isn’t this a basis of most Web 2.0 ideas. Web services are becoming more the norm than most average consumers now.

    The basis for this is the advertising model. I wonder how much Microsoft gets that?

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  5. ” Gates […] as a kid, he never wanted to be an astronaut or a cowboy (rather, a lawyer, mathematician, and briefly economist); “

    …or maybe a goldsmith… or a diamond cutter LOL

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  6. Excellent question for him. I don’t think it was hyperbole when he responded that new MS technology “really will change that,” because XAML has the potential, depending on how they drive WPF/e, to be the next HTML.

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  7. You needed a better title for this post. “an hour with bill gates” or something like that.

    the current title suggests a passive article.

    my 2c.

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  8. forgot to mention, i read the whole transcript at other places, yours was the best question.

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  9. Bloggers quiz Bill Gates…

    Fourteen A-list bloggers spent 60 minutes in the company. I found reports of the event from Niall Kennedy,…

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  10. I think the biggest short term hurdle to the convergence of the web and the desktop is not the technology (or the business model, for that matter). I’ve always felt it was the latency, the privacy concerns, and most of all, workflow efficiency.

    I’ve created a number of process maps for tasks that involve software that has switched from desktop to browser-based. Breaking the processes down step by step, the number of steps to complete the task often goes up, along with the cycle times.

    Of course, this doesn’t apply to everything, but there are a lot of applications where the efficiency losses are greater than the “ease of deployment” gains.

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