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Bill Gates on Reddit: Thoughts on Steve Jobs, Windows and the next disruption

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Bill Gates held court on Reddit on Monday, becoming just the latest notable figure to submit to the site’s open question-and-answer sessions.

Gates ostensibly started an “Ask Me Anything” conversation on Reddit to talk about his annual letter, which outlines his thoughts about the state of the world. But, in the true spirit of the feature, was also happy to chat about Microsoft products, his portrayal in the film “Pirates of Silicon Valley” and his relationship with the late Steve Jobs.

Gates said that he and Jobs “respected each other” and that he saw Jobs regularly before the Apple co-founder’s death in October 2011. In response to another question, Gates said that he thought the portrayal of his young self in the 1999 film — which is generally thought to cast him in a negative light — was “reasonably accurate.”

Gates was also upbeat on recent Microsoft products, saying that he got his Surface Pro a week ago and that it is “very nice.” He also managed to get in a plug for Microsoft’s Bing search engine, encouraging people to test it against Google for themselves. And, when asked about his preference between Windows 7 and Windows 8, Gates responded, “Higher is better.”

He added: “It is a huge advance for Windows which people will see even more as the great applications and hardware come out.”

When asked about the next big tech disruption, Gates reeled off a list of areas he thinks will have a profound impact on the way we view computers, including robots and speech interaction.

“Once seeing, hearing and reading (including handwriting) work very well, you will interact in new ways,” he said.

Of course, Gates also took the opportunity to talk about his philanthropic work, particularly his goal of spreading word about the importance of vaccinations. Polio, he said, is at the top of his list of diseases to eradicate through vaccination, followed by malaria and measles. He added that there also needs to be more research into vaccines against HIV and tuberculosis, which he said are making progress.

Gates also shared some fun personal information. He said that if the “microprocessor had NOT come along,” that he might have turned his talents to medicine or theoretical mathematics.

He also said that in his spare time, he likes to play tennis and bridge, as well as take interesting tours with his kids to places like “power plants, garbage dumps, the Large Hadron Collider” and Antarctica.

The Reddit community particularly liked the mix of places Gates mentioned in that answer.

“The kids must just love garbage dump day,” wrote one commenter.

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