Bill Gates whizzed through the UK yesterday, not meeting Tony Blair, as previously detailed here, not saying much public about his pitch to National Health Service Trust chief executives, and not saying much of interest in his pitch on behalf of MSN to ad executives.
You can hear the latter pitch if you go here, but you may find it more amusing to go there using a browser that doesn't have the correct player plug-in enabled, in which case you'll be presented with just about the largest splash ad for MSN that you could possibly imagine instead. Given that the pre-publicity for the gig as peddled by Reuters said that MSN is "developing a comprehensive program that allows ad agencies to devise larger and more interactive Web ads," this is surely far more on the mark than Bill's speech itself.
A smattering of professional journalists got to ask Bill questions towards to end, although as is frequently the case with the great man these days, they had to submit them prior to the gig. We've no idea whether they were dull to start with, or whether the spin doctors only selected the dull ones. But all is not lost, apparently - Bill did have to deal with some hard-hitting questions from an unlikely source. So let's hear it for Sarah, 15, from Lincolnshire.
At the MSN gig Gates got something impossibly dull about branding from one of the marketing pubs and a question about TV so unspeakably tedious from The Times' Ray Snoddy that we fall asleep every time we even try to think about it. At BBC children's TV Newsround, however, he got these from Sarah (15):
"Your company is now a household name but some people claim you have a monopoly on the IT industry. How do you react to that?" (Question number two, after the soft lead-in question about how it feels to be the richest man in the world - nice technique, Sarah)
Bill is just as useless as he is when confronted on video by a team of thugs hired by the DoJ: "Well Microsoft has had its success by doing low-cost products and constantly improving those products and we've really redefined the IT industry to be something that's about a tool for individuals."
Question 3: "OK.[Nice again Sarah, shows you don't buy this crap] How did you take the news that Microsoft were going to be taken to court over the supposed monopoly?" The nose-dive into inarticulacy continues: "Well I suppose Microsoft has had some sort of discussion with the government on various topics for over a decade and it's not atypical when you're successful to have various things of that kind of nature. It's not the part of my job that I enjoy the most. I love building the products, seeing people use the products but you know along with success comes the need for a dialogue with the government."
Question 4: "On the subject of success, what do you think of the way some people seem to dislike the success you've had with Microsoft?" (This girl doesn't let up, does she?) Bill responds with survey data about Microsoft being the most admired company in the galaxy. We won't detain you with this. But she's back with question 5: "What do you think it is that they particularly dislike?" He dodges. "It's mainly the competitors that speak out." And then she lets him off, which is reasonable - once you've got them on the floor, there's no need to stamp too hard.
The whole of this coming media star's oeuvre, including Bill's shock admission that his computer definitely crashes, is available here. ®