Bill Gates, in a Reddit AMA this morning, talked about a range of topics including his new role at Microsoft as technology advisor to recently named CEO Satya Nadella.
He reiterated that he will be spending one third of his time at Microsoft — focused mostly on product work, and two thirds at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
In response to a question about what he does in his new role, Gates said:
I make sure we pick ambitious scenarios and that we have a strong architecture to deliver on them. I encourage good work (hopefully).
Gates also said:
I am excited about how the cloud and new devices can help us communicate and collaborate in new ways. The OS won’t just be on one device and the information won’t just be files – it will be your history including being able to review memories of things like kids growing up. I was thrilled Satya asked me to pitch in to make sure Microsoft is ambitious with its innovation. Even in Office there is a lot more than can be done.
He sidestepped a question about how Nadella’s vision differs from his own and from that of Nadella’s predecessor, Steve Ballmer. On that, Gates said only:
Satya is taking a fresh view of where Microsoft is – strengths and weaknesses. A new person gets to step back and change the focus in some ways. He is off to a great start.
When asked about how he felt about NSA and its “oversight of computer usage,” Gates replied:
This is a complex issue. Privacy will be increasingly important as cameras and GPS sensors are gathering information to try and be helpful. We need to have trust in the way information is protected and gathered. There is a role for the government to try and stop crime and terrorism but it will have to be more open. I do think terrorism with biological or nuclear weapons is something we want to minimize the chance of.
Gates, who said he is currently using a Surface Pro 2 (though he referred to it as a “Surface 2 Pro”) also offered insight into his favorite project(s) that he worked on at Microsoft:
The Windows project which required a lot of patience was great. Office was also great. Together they defined the big success of the 1990s for Microsoft. Office connected to the cloud has a LOT of potential and we are off to a good start. Cloud Storage needs to be a lot richer though.
As for whether he’s a gamer? Not so much. According to Gates:
I am not a huge gamer. My son knows a LOT more than I do about what is cool on Xbox. I played Halo but the sports games that the whole family can use are the things I use the most. I threw the javelin very very far!
And when asked how he’s different now than when he was younger, Gates said:
20 years ago I would stay in the office for days at a time and not think twice about it – so I had energy and naivete on my side. Now hopefully I am a bit more mellow but with a little extra wisdom.
The complete AMA is here. And…I think Gates has a love affair going with Reddit — at least according to this video he posted: