Bill's back in Aust

commentary Bill's back.According to an e-mail from Microsoft's Sydney office, Microsoft chairman Bill Gates will be making the long flight down under in a couple of weeks' time.

commentary Bill's back.

According to an e-mail from Microsoft's Sydney office, Microsoft chairman Bill Gates will be making the long flight down under in a couple of weeks' time.

Local hacks will get the chance to hear Bill elaborate for an hour or so on Microsoft's technology strategy and the company's "ongoing commitment to customers through research, development and the role of innovation in the evolution of Microsoft technology".

Gates later plans to turn up -- as does Prime Minister John Howard -- at the launch of Microsoft 's "Unlimited Potential" programme designed to give people in any condition anywhere access to computing technology, education and training.

Your correspondent has to date only been to one press conference with Gates, that being many years ago at a Computer Associates event in New Orleans. From my somewhat hazy memory (the lowlight of that particular trip entailed consuming a couple of Hurricanes -- a lethal combination of White, Jamaican and Bacardi rum, as well as sundry mixers -- on top of five beers, but I digress), the highlight of a bland session came from a journalist from one Middle Eastern country hissing a question to Gates Gollum-style about when certain of Microsoft's "precioussss" products would be available in his native language.

Your writer will be interested to see whether the 28 June briefing here will yield genuine insight into the raft of issues confronting Microsoft or a token rehash of the corporate line. While I -- and I'm obviously hardly alone -- continue to be cynical about Microsoft's propensity to wield its corporate might to the edge of the law to bury its competitors, the company has shown in recent times a far greater willingness to descend from the clouds to engage with its customer base in crucial areas such as product security.

ZDNet Australia  will be heading along to the session with a list of questions for Bill. While we'll obviously be compiling a few of our own, we'd like to ask you to send in questions you'd like answered by Bill as well. We'll forward those that we didn't get a chance to ask after the conference to Microsoft and publish the responses in a future editorial. Send in your questions and comments to edit@zdnet.com.au.

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