Since becoming wealthy, what’s the cheapest thing that gives you the most pleasure?
Kids. Cheap cheeseburgers. Open Course Ware courses…
What emerging technology today do you think will cause another big stir for the average consumer in the same way that the home computer did years ago?
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..
Hi, welcome to reddit! What are your thoughts on the push against the open and free Internet that we have been seeing in the recent past and present (such as sopa, etc)?
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 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.
What one Microsoft program or product that was never fully developed or released do you wish 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 remerge 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. (WinFS)
Do you still code ?, if so which language ?
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…
What do people give you for your birthday, given that you can buy anything you want?
Free software. Just kidding.
My favorite of the last decade in Pinker’s Better Angels of our Nature. It is long but profound look at the reduction in violence and discrimination over time. I review a lot of the books I read at gatesnotes.com (is that too self-promotional?)
If Microsoft didn’t take off, what would you have done and be doing instead?
If the microprocessor had NOT come along I am not sure what I would have done. Maybe medicine or theoretical math but it is hard to say.
Do you guys really use Bing? I mean seriously…
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.
What do you do for fun? I find it hard to fathom how someone like you can just disconnect. Disconnect from the emails, calls ,the media. All of it. What would be your definition of a chill and fun day?
I love playing tennis. I am an avid bridge player (a card game if you have not heard of it – it was more popular in the past!). I like to tour interesting things with my kids like power plants, garbage dumps, the Large Hadron Collider, Antarctica, missile Silos (Arizona),… I read a lot and watch courses (online or the Learning Company)..
How did you feel about your portrayal in Pirates of Silicon Valley, and who do you want to play you next in a movie?
That portrayal was reasonably accurate….
Did you ever own a Macintosh?
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 products.
Read more about his Foundation work and other general questions here.