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Last Updated: Friday, 28 January 2005, 16:58 GMT
Gates says security is priority
Bill Gates
Bill Gates says he never gets bored of talking about the PC
In the second part of a two-part interview, Stephen Cole of the BBC's technology show Click Online talks to Microsoft founder and chairman Bill Gates about the pros and cons of being at the forefront of the PC industry.

Stephen Cole:

Do you think Microsoft underestimated the threat of not just viruses but all kinds of attacks on Microsoft over the last two years? In other words, did you underestimate the value of security?

Bill Gates:

Certainly you can never underestimate the level of malicious people out there who are going to try to take advantage of whatever things there are.

That's why we made trustworthy computing the top priority.

Certainly we can always do better. It's the top priority
Bill Gates, Microsoft chairman

If somebody had predicted two years ago that we would have hundreds of millions of people connected to our auto-update and immediately getting those improvements - including over 100,000,000 who got full updates for SP2 (Service Pack 2) - I don't think people would have believed that.

It's really only because we've made that our top priority that people really understand that having that turned on really gives them a very high level of safety.

Stephen Cole:

Nevertheless, a lot of our viewers still say to us: 'Microsoft didn't take that threat seriously enough and we are having problems.'

Bill Gates:

Certainly we can always do better. It's the top priority. If you look at things like spam, we feel very good about the progress there. If you look at the progress on just making sure that you don't have to do things manually it's very dramatic.

There is a lot more to do. With the computing experience you don't achieve full potential if you're having to worry about something like security.

So that's our commitment to people. We'll make sure that's not holding people back in terms of getting these great new experiences.

Stephen Cole:

Are you a victim perhaps of your own success? Being the biggest, you are always going to be under attack.

Bill Gates:

And we're always able to do the best R&D, the best innovation, get the best partnerships.

Certainly our position is one that people envy.

Stephen Cole:

Will updated security be a major feature of Longhorn?

Bill Gates:

Certainly. Longhorn's an advance really across the board - the way we exploit the hardware, the richness we've built in.

Longhorn is a super important release for us because it takes all the feedback we've received from users over a number of years and lets us do something dramatic to address anything they want.

Stephen Cole:

When do you expect to see it issued?

Bill Gates:

We've never given too precise a date for it. We are driven by having the quality and richness of the product . We're targeting 2006 but that isn't in any sense an exact date.

We're going through the process: later this year we'll get into a Beta stage and based on the feedback we'll decide exactly what makes sense.

Stephen Cole:

This year, last year, you came under a lot of flack from the Department of Justice and from Europe. You were fined half a billion euros. Did you ever think for a second perhaps they might be right - 'perhaps we are being anti-competitive?'

Bill Gates:

Actually we haven't had anything with the Department of Justice in the last year, that case was settled quite a bit before that.

Stephen Cole:

But you came under fire from the department of justice...

Bill Gates:

Not this year - that was six years ago.

Stephen Cole:

And Europe too fined you for being anti-competitive. Did you ever pause for a moment and think: 'are we being anti-competitive?'

Bill Gates:

People would be very lucky if other sectors of the economy worked as well as the PC industry
Bill Gates, Microsoft chairman
I think there's a bit of an irony here. The idea of low cost computing, letting people have a choice of the very best PC, making sure the prices are constantly coming down - there's no part of the economy that's done a better job of improving their products and delivering low prices than the PC industry.

We founded the PC industry based on having standards, based on increasing our R&D every year.

People would be very lucky if other sectors of the economy worked as well as the PC industry.

Stephen Cole:

Do you enjoy the celebrity focus - being in the spotlight, being on camera like today. Do you enjoy being the celebrity that you are, the media focus?

Bill Gates:

It's certainly got some minuses, but there are some plusses in terms of being able to get out and articulate breakthrough products like the new music devices, talk about the Media Center and really let people know about the new opportunities they have.

It's a mixed bag, but I've been talking about the PC and the importance of the PC now for over 25 years.

Stephen Cole:

Do you ever get tired of talking about the PC?

Bill Gates

Well, if the PC ever stayed the same I would get tired but because of the breakthrough work that we and others are doing, no.

There's still so much more to come and helping people know how to take advantage of that is an important role for us.


Click Online is broadcast on BBC News 24: Saturday at 2030, Sunday at 0430 and 1630, and on Monday at 0030. A short version is also shown on BBC Two: Saturday at 0645 and BBC One: Sunday at 0730 . Also BBC World.

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