Microsoft co-founder and current chairman Bill Gates recently sat down with the editor of Microsoft’s own Next blog Steve Clayton to talk about Windows 8, Windows Phone 8 and the Surface tablet. Unsurprisingly, Gates was pretty upbeat about all of the company’s upcoming product and argued that “Windows 8 is key to where personal computing is going.”
Citing Microsoft’s current CEO Steve Ballmer, Gates noted that Windows 8 “is an absolutely critical product” that takes Windows into “the world of touch, low power devices – really giving people the best of what you think of as a tablet-type experience and the PC experience.”
The interview also touched upon why Gates thinks natural user interfaces are so important (Gates, after all, also championed Microsoft’s first forray into touch through pen-based tablets many years ago). One thing he specifically stressed in his answer was that people want to have easy access to their email and the web. Users want this to be “awfully simple and touch is a great part of that,” he said. “But you want to incorporate touch without giving up a kind of mouse/keyboard capability that is just so natural in most settings.” With Windows 8, said Gates, Microsoft wants to “blend together” all these different forms of input (speech, touch, camera input and others) and still ensure that they can all be used together on a single device.
As for the Surface, Gates says that he is using it “day or night.” People, he says, need to see it in the store and try it. “It is absolutely incredible.”
The interview is obviously somewhat scripted and uncritical (there wasn’t even a question about how Gates thinks people will react to the new Windows 8 interface), but this is one of the few times we’ve heard Gates talk about all of the company’s new products.