Gates taking a seat in your den | Newsmakers | CNET News.com: "What changes does this mean for Microsoft? Do you see yourself becoming, let's say, more of a seller of content?
Well, the most explosive piece of content this holiday season was 'Halo 2.' We sold 6.3 million copies, we've had 69 million hours of online game play. And so is Microsoft a content company? Well, I'd say 'Master and Commander' is good--people have talked about how the story made them cry--that's content, but it's also software.
The boundary there has always been a bit gray. Our main role is to provide the platforms and the tools, and simply partner with the content companies like MTV and let them do what they're good at. It's mainly in this interactive realm that we need to come in and do some complete content ourselves.
One of the big phenomena of the year has been blogging. Has the growth surprised you?
Well, actually I think the biggest blogging statistic I know, which really blew me away, is that we've got close to a million people setting up blogs (Web logs) with the Spaces capability that's connected up to Messenger.
Now, with blogs, you always have to be careful. The decay rate of "I started and I stopped" or "I started and nobody visited" is fairly high, but as RSS (Really Simple Syndication) has gotten more sophisticated and value-added search capabilities have come along, this thing is really maturing.
And we've done some things in Japan and Korea that are unique blog experiments. The Spaces thing is a worldwide effort. It's a great phenomena, and it's sort of built on e-mail, and so we need to integrate more blogging capability into the e-mail world--and as we do the next generation of Outlook, you'll see that. We need to integrate it more into our SharePoint, which is our collaboration Office platform, and then, as I discussed, MSN is embracing it so that instead of thinking about, "OK, I go to one community to do photos, one community to do social networking, one community to do this," we say, "Hey," off of Messenger, which has got your buddy list already, then, "Let's let you do the photos and the social networking and everything--but starting in an integrated way off of Messenger."
Apple is doing things the way Apple does--where it's the Apple hardware and the Apple store, that's great for them. We're doing it the Windows way, where you've got things like this Creative Zen Micro, which sold out this holiday season. This brings the photo capability in, and it's a very attractively priced device. So the variety story is an important one for us; it uses our rights management format and supports a subscription approach that we think can be a significant part of online music sales.
What do you think of Apple's success so far? I mean, they clearly have had a hit with the iPod.
Absolutely. They had a hit with the Apple II, they had a hit with the Macintosh, and they have a hit with the iPod, so this is a company that's had three hits, and that's very impressive. There are a lot of companies that don't have three hits. And in the same way that Macintosh helped get people exposed to the graphical user interface, the iPod is doing a great job getting people to think about digital music.
In the long run, there will be a lot of people making digital music players, and we think that there will be a very different market share with dozens and dozens of companies. And other than Apple, all those player makers are signing up to work inside the Windows PlaysForSure ecosystem. "