Mixed Bag: Gates on Windows R&D, EU Decision, Outsourcing
Gartner's ITXpo features Microsoft chairman Bill Gates in keynote interview on Windows research spending, the EU Commission fine, and the company's outsourcing philosophy.
(SAN DIEGO, CA)
- By Linda Briggs
In a far-ranging question-and-answer session Monday,
Microsoft Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates discussed his
company's R&D spending, last's week's mammoth European Commission
fine, outsourcing at Microsoft—and how he views his philanthropic
Gates spoke to several thousand attendees at Gartner Symposium/ ITxpo
2004 in San Diego, the research and analysis company's annual spring conference.
Gates was interviewed on stage by Gartner Chairman and CEO Michael Fleischer.
The two talked at length about how Microsoft divides what Fleischer said
is a current $6.8 billion research and development tab, up from $3 billion
just five years ago. Over the next three to five years, Gates said, most
R & D money at Microsoft will be allocated to four things: security,
reliability, spam and privacy. Within the next two years, he said that
the symposium audience, mostly IT executives and managers, would be able
to take security "off [their] Top 5 List" of IT concerns.
In a vague comment about last week's decision by the European Commission
to fine Microsoft $613 million, Gates said of Microsoft, "It's a
fascinating business model, to take the $50 operating system, and spend
billions in R & D on new features, [then sell it for] the same price.
Or, you can [continue to] use the old one for nothing." That sort
of model, he said, makes it incumbent upon Microsoft to continue to innovate
in order to sell new software.
On outsourcing, Gates said Microsoft' core software development will
remain in Redmond, although he spoke highly of developer groups the company
works with in both China and India. "The bulk of Windows development
and testing is going to stay in one location, even thought the cost is
high," Gates said. "We're not about doing Longhorn 20 percent
Lastly, Gates addressed questions from Fleischer about his philanthropic
spending through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which gives grants
focused heavily on world health issues. He likened his efforts there to
software development, in that "you pick bright people, mix skill
sets, take risky solutions," and work with foreign governments. "But
the economic reward is lives saved," he said. "We've already
saved way over a million lives—we've just scratched the surface."
For more about Gartner ITXpo, click here.
Linda Briggs is the founding editor of MCP Magazine and the former senior editorial director of 101communications. In between world travels, she's a freelance technology writer based in San Diego, Calif.