Microsoft chairman Bill Gates: "the PC is the tablet"

By on May 19, 2011, 12:00 PM

Microsoft chairman Bill Gates was recently on a program called "Hard Talk." Even though the billionaire's role at the software giant isn't as important as it once was, the interview still featured a Microsoft section, and there were some interesting insights into Gates' thoughts about the company.

First, Gates was asked about Microsoft's inability to execute in regards to the phone, the tablet, and the overall handheld revolution. In short, the interviewer rated the company very poorly in comparison to how other tech companies are doing and concluded that Microsoft has been left behind in mobile.

"Oh, I wouldn't say that," Gates replied. "I'd say there are companies doing very good work in that area. I think the phone has become very software-centric. So whereas about three or four years ago, if you look what Microsoft was saying, they were saying the phone would become software-centric; that's really taken place. And so it's software approaches that are succeeding there. The idea that reading and media are moving down on to the digital device – that's good news and Microsoft has to create the best device for those scenarios."

You can watch the full 30-minute interview if you have access to the BBC. It is the full version of the interview where Gates said he was a strong proponent for the software giant buying Skype. For the Microsoft-only part, check out the clip below, courtesy of WinRumors:

The general consensus is that many other companies are both doing better in mobile than Microsoft is. Gates brushed this aside and specifically said that many tech companies, and he specifically named Microsoft, Apple, and Google, are doing fascinating work in the mobile world. He was then asked if the age of the PC was coming to an end.

"The PC is the tablet," Gates answered. "All these digital devices are going to work together, so the importance of software is higher today than ever. Microsoft writes to everything that software runs on. So you're going to see PCs where 'is that a tablet? is that a phone?' You know, the words are going to change, because the innovation is so rapid."

Gates' belief that the tablet is yet another PC form factor is something that Microsoft regularly drives home. I tend to agree, but I know many do not. Two months ago, Craig Mundie, Microsoft's global chief research and strategy officer, said that he didn't know whether tablets would "remain with us or not".

Multiple times during the interview Gates emphasizes how the role of software is only becoming more and more significant in our technology-dependent society. Although he is correct, his statements are not really too big of a surprise, since Microsoft is the largest software company in the world.




User Comments: 27

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matrix86 matrix86 said:

Oh Bill, shut up and go back to counting your money. Microsoft is sucking in the tablet and phone industry and you know it. I love Windows and MS Office, but come on...even a long time MS fan knows when you're behind :P But hey, maybe Windows 8 will be what brings MS up in the market...time will tell.

yRaz yRaz said:

matrix86 said:

Oh Bill, shut up and go back to counting your money. Microsoft is sucking in the tablet and phone industry and you know it. I love Windows and MS Office, but come on...even a long time MS fan knows when you're behind :P But hey, maybe Windows 8 will be what brings MS up in the market...time will tell.

People need to start taking windows phone 7 seriously

Guest said:

There will never be enough money to pry Bill Gate's lips off Microsoft's backside.

LinkedKube LinkedKube, TechSpot Project Baby, said:

Guest said:

There will never be enough money to pry Bill Gate's lips off Microsoft's backside.

Sorry bud, I think its more so the other way around.

madboyv1, TechSpot Paladin, said:

supersmashbrada said:

Guest said:

There will never be enough money to pry Bill Gate's lips off Microsoft's backside.

Sorry bud, I think its more so the other way around.

+1

63Jax said:

he's right f...k the tablets

Guest said:

I agree when you want to do real work or game you use a beasty PC. If you want to play around or don't have access to a PC you use a Tablet or Phone. I don't think that will ever change unless the Tiny devices get as powerful as PC's which I don't think will be for a long time. The Windows phone is just going to be coming out on the Verizon network...that's why they were sucking...carrier exclusivity kills...Open up to all carriers and watch them soar :) I myself am waiting to get a phone...I may just go with a windows phone if they come out with a nice powerful competing version.

Guest said:

@Guest 1:45 PM

You smoking something?

treeski treeski said:

Guest said:

I agree when you want to do real work or game you use a beasty PC. If you want to play around or don't have access to a PC you use a Tablet or Phone. I don't think that will ever change unless the Tiny devices get as powerful as PC's which I don't think will be for a long time. The Windows phone is just going to be coming out on the Verizon network...that's why they were sucking...carrier exclusivity kills...Open up to all carriers and watch them soar I myself am waiting to get a phone...I may just go with a windows phone if they come out with a nice powerful competing version.

I jumped on the WP bandwagon early on with a Samsung Focus, and I don't regret it at all. I like being an early adopter of technology that I'm excited about. However, if you're looking into one, I would definitely recommend waiting until the mango update goes live, and second gen phones are available. They're going to rock! Plus the current phones are already becoming old technology, what with all the dual core going around these days

BrianUMR said:

What is a PC? Does it simply just mean a personal computer? If that is the case than tablets and smartphones are PCs. My phone can run programs, play games and do all types of this that a PC does. It is way more powerful than the first Desktop PC I had. The days of the Desktop PC are probably coming to an end, in terms of mass popularity.

princeton princeton said:

treeski said:

Guest said:

I agree when you want to do real work or game you use a beasty PC. If you want to play around or don't have access to a PC you use a Tablet or Phone. I don't think that will ever change unless the Tiny devices get as powerful as PC's which I don't think will be for a long time. The Windows phone is just going to be coming out on the Verizon network...that's why they were sucking...carrier exclusivity kills...Open up to all carriers and watch them soar I myself am waiting to get a phone...I may just go with a windows phone if they come out with a nice powerful competing version.

I jumped on the WP bandwagon early on with a Samsung Focus, and I don't regret it at all. I like being an early adopter of technology that I'm excited about. However, if you're looking into one, I would definitely recommend waiting until the mango update goes live, and second gen phones are available. They're going to rock! Plus the current phones are already becoming old technology, what with all the dual core going around these days

I would buy a WP7 device but they all use snapdragon cpus. That was an awful idea. You now have hummingbird, tegra and exynos, and you still use those awful qualcomm chips.

Guest said:

Hi Bill. The Pc is not the tablet. The Pc wants to be the tablet. Portable open source and adaptable. Yes you are the Godfather of innovation but the old goes by the wayside and the new brings in new ideas and innovation.

krayzie said:

Guest said:

Hi Bill. The Pc is not the tablet. The Pc wants to be the tablet. Portable open source and adaptable. Yes you are the Godfather of innovation but the old goes by the wayside and the new brings in new ideas and innovation.

i dont think its quite open source... if you are talking about iPads....

what defines a tablet? mobile? no keyboard? well couldnt that be a laptop with a touch screen?

so far all we have seen is phone operating systems on portable devices

in the end its all how you define "tablet"

i think this is a pretty good definition

"A tablet PC is a wireless, portable personal computer with a touch screen interface. The tablet form factor is typically smaller than a notebook computer but larger than a smart phone."

veLa veLa said:

Once a better Windows Phone 7 device is released I'll make the switch.

Guest said:

Tablets really suck. I don't get the fuss. Tablets are crap. :s

Guest said:

A serious disadvantage of the tablets is that their hardware is almost impossible to be updated.

Until now more portability means more closed systems.

yorro said:

BrianUMR said:

What is a PC? Does it simply just mean a personal computer? If that is the case than tablets and smartphones are PCs. My phone can run programs, play games and do all types of this that a PC does. It is way more powerful than the first Desktop PC I had. The days of the Desktop PC are probably coming to an end, in terms of mass popularity.

Not all. Not even remotely close.

BrianUMR said:

yorro said:

BrianUMR said:

What is a PC? Does it simply just mean a personal computer? If that is the case than tablets and smartphones are PCs. My phone can run programs, play games and do all types of this that a PC does. It is way more powerful than the first Desktop PC I had. The days of the Desktop PC are probably coming to an end, in terms of mass popularity.

Not all. Not even remotely close.

What do you mean not even remotely close? Seems to me the average users I see is buying a laptop. Clearly the Desktop PC won't leave the gaming scene since you can't bet it. Also the price of building a custom PC is so much better. However most people don't build there on PC.

ingeborgdot ingeborgdot, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Why would the PC ever vanish? I will never use a stupid 7" or 10" tablet to look things up or watch things or read or whatever. I will use my 26" screen on my screaming fast homemade computer to do all that. Sure, I can't take it with me but then I bring my nice 17" screaming fast laptop. I can actually see the writing on it and see whole pictures of things. It may be a little more cumbersome but it is worth it. You can have your little phones, and tablets but all they are is toys.

freythman freythman said:

So wait... there is no spoon?

Guest said:

Really some of you are taking this way too seriously :)

The PC is here to stay, it's just morphing into multiple form factors and performance profiles.

PC doesn't just mean windows/x86, PC in strictest terms IS Android,Winmo7, Linux, OSX, Windows, Etc, Etc. So enjoy the variety that we have today, and use the best tool for the job. peace!

example1013 said:

BrianUMR said:

yorro said:

BrianUMR said:

What is a PC? Does it simply just mean a personal computer? If that is the case than tablets and smartphones are PCs. My phone can run programs, play games and do all types of this that a PC does. It is way more powerful than the first Desktop PC I had. The days of the Desktop PC are probably coming to an end, in terms of mass popularity.

Not all. Not even remotely close.

What do you mean not even remotely close? Seems to me the average users I see is buying a laptop. Clearly the Desktop PC won't leave the gaming scene since you can't bet it. Also the price of building a custom PC is so much better. However most people don't build there on PC.

This is absolutely the case. PCs have become so powerful that the average user doesn't even stress a $400 desktop, making all that RAM and CPU performance not worth the price. Thus many people are switching over to netbooks, laptops, and tablets as their primary (and sometimes only) PC. Why buy a tower when you can get a handheld that will do the same job just as well? My mom already said that she's buying an iPad once her laptop dies. My parents have one desktop that we all share, I have a laptop for college (although it's a fairly powerful one), and my mom uses her laptop most of the time.

The days of every user owning a desktop are gone, and likely many future purchasers of desktops will be enthusiasts, like most of us, who are looking for performance over portability.

ingeborgdot ingeborgdot, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I build a tower because there is no laptop or any of the others that can do my video work the way I want it done.

Guest said:

OLD NEWS !

MS is slow in recognizing it and am z z Z Z Z most of the time.

Their products sucks and are obsolete by the time they come out.

They are not leading the techno trend. They are are slow and following others instead.

MS is stale, over the curve and complacent.

ingeborgdot ingeborgdot, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Hmmm, who owns over 90% of the market? You must be a mac freak.

Guest said:

Bill gates reminds me of Gilligan.

Zen Zen, TechSpot Paladin, said:

This kind of stuff makes me so very glad that I made the choice to release myself from the strangle hold that Microsoft has had around my neck for almost 20 years!

Linux =

Microsoft =

I will just ease back down the road here, whistling and singing the praises of "open source" programing!.............Tablets & Pads makes no difference to me, as long as the industry continues to make serious and powerful lap top computers, the lap top will have my business!

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