What Bill Gates will do at Microsoft, in his own words


Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates clarified more of what he’ll be doing. Above, Gates is pictured in a 2012 file photo at the Gaylord National Hotel & Convention Center in National Harbor, Md. (Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images)

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates’s return to the day-to-day operations of the company has generated a lot of buzz, but there hasn’t been much clarity about what, exactly, he will do as “technology adviser.”

On Monday, Gates provided information in a somewhat unlikely place: reddit.

Gates, a notable redditor himself, took to the Web site for one of its open question-and-answer sessions — known as “Ask Me Anything” — and fielded a range of queries including a couple about his new role.

Gates said he will closely advise new Microsoft chief executive Satya Nadella on the potential of a growing ecosystem of connected devices. He also indicated that Microsoft software will work more smoothly across devices than it does right now.

“I am excited about how the cloud and new devices can help us communicate and collaborate in new ways,” Gates said on the site. “The OS won’t just be on one device and the information won’t just be files — it will be your history including being able to review memories of things like kids growing up. I was thrilled Satya asked me to pitch in to make sure Microsoft is ambitious with its innovation. Even in Office there is a lot more than can be done.”

The answer is still a little vague, but it seems fairly clear that Gates will provide a stronger guiding hand as the company evolves its products for the mobile era.

As The Washington Post’s Brian Fung noted, there is some skepticism about where Gates may take the company, especially given how powerful — and stifling — his influence on the company could be at times.

But Gates, who also said in the AMA that he’s mellowed out in the past 20 years or so, indicated that his role may be more about vision than directing the nitty-gritty of the company’s business.

“I make sure we pick ambitious scenarios and that we have a strong architecture to deliver on them. I encourage good work (hopefully),” Gates said.

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Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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