And he argues Microsoft just missed delivering Windows Mobile for an unknown Motorola smartphone, which could be the Moto Droid from 2009 – Motorola's first Android phone and a key device that helped popularize Android in the US.
"We were so close," said Gates. "I was just too distracted and I screwed that up because of the distraction. We were just three months too late with the release that Motorola would have used on a phone. So it's a winner-takes-all game, that's for sure, but now nobody here has even heard of Windows Mobile."
While Microsoft's antitrust battles did, in his view, stop it from developing Windows Mobile to its full potential, he argued that the legal wrangles weren't necessarily good for consumers either.
But, in hindsight, Gates now sees a silver lining to Microsoft's antitrust troubles and the fate of Windows Mobile. Gates says he wouldn't have retired so early had it not been for the antitrust case and that gave him the opportunity to work on the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.