Bill Gates reveals views on Windows 8, Surface Pro, and Apple

In a conversation on Reddit, the Microsoft founder and chairman expressed regret that WinFS never shipped -- but said he's bullish about Windows 8

Microsoft founder and chairman Bill Gates took to Reddit yesterday for an "Ask me anything"-style interview with the site's users. While a goodly part of the conversation focused on his work at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Gates fielded plenty of questions about his views on Microsoft and its current offerings, on Apple, and about his perspectives on the state of information technology.

Following are some of the more interesting tech-related tidbits from the conversation:

On Windows 8: "It is a huge advance for Windows, which people will see even more as the great applications and hardware come out."

What's he running Windows 8 on: "I just got my Surface Pro a week ago and it is very nice. I am using a Perceptive Pixel display right now -- huge Windows 8 touch whiteboard. These will come down in price over time and be pervasive..."

On which search engine he uses: "Seriously, Bing is the better product at this point. Try the challenge. I am biased, but the work to make Bing better has been amazing."

On which Microsoft product he wished had made it to market: "We had a rich database as the client/cloud store that was part of a Windows release that was before its time. This is an idea that will reemerge, since your cloud store will be rich with schema rather than just a bunch of files and the client will be a partial replica of it with rich schema understanding."

(Later in the thread, he acknowledged that he was referring to the much-hyped WinFS -- aka Longhorn -- that Microsoft ended up killing in 2006.)

On his relationship with the late Steve Jobs: "He and I respected each other. Our biggest joint project was the Mac, where Microsoft had more people on the project than Apple did as we wrote a lot of applications. I saw Steve regularly over the years including spending an afternoon with him a few months before he tragically passed away."

On ever owning a Mac: "Microsoft does a lot of software for the Mac. I mostly use Windows machines, but from time to time I have tried all of Apple's products."

On the push against the open and free Internet (e.g. SOPA): "There are two things this could reference. One is the free/pay for software mix. The Internet has benefited from having lots of free stuff and lots of commercial software. It has been interesting to see people inventing hybrid models. Even stuff that is pretty commercial often has free versions for some audiences. Even the most open stuff often have services people choose to pay for.

"The second thing is the anonymous versus identified tension. This is another one where both will probably thrive, since you want anonymity for some things and full identity for others. I am surprised how little progress has been made in the identity space, but it will improve."

On the next big disruptive technologies for consumers: "Robots, pervasive screens, speech interaction will all change the way we look at 'computers.' Once seeing, hearing, and reading (including handwriting) work very well you will interact in new ways."

On coding in his spare time: "Not as much as I would like to. I write some C, C#, and some Basic. I am surprised new languages have not made more progress in simplifying programming. It would be great if most high school kids were exposed to programming."

On what least-expensive things give him the most pleasure: "Kids. Cheap cheeseburgers. Open Course Ware courses..."

On how he was portrayed in the 1999 made-for-TV movie "Pirates of Silicon Valley": "That portrayal was reasonably accurate..."

Gates also posted this video to YouTube in which he answers "a few popular Reddit questions."

This story, "Bill Gates reveals views on Windows 8, Surface Pro, and Apple," was originally published at Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog. For the latest developments in business technology news, follow on Twitter.

Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.

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