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Friday, October 15, 1999 Published at 07:24 GMT 08:24 UK


Gates on 'future without Microsoft'

Bill Gates: "Eventually all companies are replaced"

Bill Gates, the world's first $100bn man, admits his company Microsoft will one day be replaced.

In a wide-ranging interview with the BBC's Jeremy Paxman, the world's richest man describes his meeting with Prime Minister Tony Blair as "neat", outlines his vision of the technological future and claims never to have heard a Bill Gates joke.

The Microsoft founder, whose company is currently being sued by the US Government for anti-competitive business practices, says he can envisage a future without Microsoft.

He acknowledges that someone may be working on the type of ground-breaking innovation he came up with in the 1970s to revolutionise the industry.

"Eventually all companies are replaced," he tells Mr Paxman.

The interview - Paxman Meets Bill Gates - will be screened on 17 October. In the time it took to record Mr Gates earned around $500,000.

World domination

Mr Gates also answers Rupert Murdoch's assertion that he "wants to take over the world" by telling Paxman: "He's hiding behind me. He's your man."

[ image: Rupert Murdoch said Gates wanted to
Rupert Murdoch said Gates wanted to "take over the world"
Gates claims that his business is "not like owning a newspaper".

He adds: "Someone who owns a newspaper can pick up the phone to the editor and say 'run headlines I like'.

"What we do is create tools like a word processor that lets people express their ideas and we're not at all involved in how they choose to use it.

"The thing we're involved with has democratised communications and anyone can publish on the internet. You don't have to own a TV channel or a newspaper."

Pornography and racism

Gates also denies there is a key to his software programmes held by the security services of the US Government.

He also talks about his dream of making medical advancements available to all through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which will receive the bulk of Gates vast fortune.

Later in the interview Mr Gates is asked about the problems of pornography and racism on the Internet.

He tells Mr Paxman: "The Internet is a great communications tool and so every human thought that you like or don't like is going to be out there.

"Certainly, I want our software to be used for things that are positive and good, and I don't have control over exactly how that's done."

Talking computers

The next stage technologically is accessing the Internet through the television and the telephone, says Mr Gates.

Operating the computer by speaking to it is also likely in the near future, and the computer will answer back.

"One of the things you will be able to select is the personality," Gates tells his interviewer.

"You're not serious?," Mr Paxman asks, "I'm totally serious," Gates replies.

But a 'thinking' computer is still a long way off.

"None of the work being done on software today holds the potential to create a truly intelligent device."

Other topics covered in the interview include how uncomfortable Gates feels about being the central focus of his company's remarkable success, and IBM's missed opportunity to acquire 40% of Microsoft for "next to nothing".

Paxman Meets Bill Gates will be broadcast on Sunday 17 October, at 8pm on BBC Two.

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