Continuing my last few days of Microsoft watching, I just viewed Robert Scoble's 16-minute interview with Bill Gates on Channel 9. Gates was very relaxed, and Scoble (famous blogger and a Microsoft evangelist) was admittedly a bit nervous. I don't know if the nervousness rattled his brain, but he threw him only softballs. Scoble even told Gates during the interview that it's hard to come up with hard questions because Gates has heard them all. Not exactly true.
I can understand Scoble not wanting to be impertinent and being a good corporate citizen. Microsoft pays his salary. But as a leading member of the blogger community, for whom credibility and transparency are important virtues, I wish Scoble had dug just a little deeper in his allotted time.
If I had known he was talking to Gates, I would have sent Scoble a few of my questions, about security issues, Google, relations with China, the Web as the platform, OpenDoc and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, etc. Of course, if those issues were among his questions, Gates probably wouldn't sit for a Channel 9 interview.
I did see Gates (he was on a stage and I was in the audience) on Tuesday at an event on the Microsoft campus (and posted my take here), but he wasn't available to the press for questions. At the same event, Ballmer only took a few scripted questions.
Scoble did ask Gates a somewhat philosophical question--how he would want to be remembered. He responded: "I don't think being remembered is important, and I don't think it's a good way to decide what you want to do. For me, every day I want to make sure I am motivating people and hopefully sharing some good ideas, and if a product is not very good, telling in some positive way how they can make it better. And then, having long-term goals around the empowerment of software and what the software industry should be able to do for people." I'm sure that's an accurate statement, but it's missing another side of Gates. Over the 30 years he has driven Microsoft, Gates has aspired to dominate software for everything from the desktop and back office to the living room and the car. That's more of the Bill Gates we have come to know...