MEXICO CITY – Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) chairman Bill Gates met his technological match Tuesday, losing a video game simulation of a penalty shootout to star Mexican soccer player Rafael Marquez 2-1 as hundreds of Microsoft Mexico employees and other invited guests cheered on the two.
"I wouldn't bet all of my money on it," the richest man in the world quipped when Marquez asked him if he really dared take on the challenge before they hunkered down in two opposing chairs and launched a live competition displayed on three giant screens hung above a large stage.
Gates was in Mexico to commemorate his company's 20th anniversary here, sign accords with Mexico City and federal officials aimed at using technology to increase efficiency in business and government and improve health care and education.
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"Certainly, there's a lot of things going on in Mexico that are absolutely world-class" in information technology, Gates told reporters after a seminar to promote the new Windows Vista and Microsoft Office 2007 software.
"The place where there is an opportunity to do more," he said, is in health care and public education, digitalizing services to make them more efficient and making Internet more available to schools throughout the country.
The personal computer "is so wonderful that we should want every child to have the same opportunity to use it and connect up to the world's information over the Internet," Gates said during a morning appearance with Mexican President Felipe Calderon at the presidential residence, Los Pinos.
Gates also spoke in favor of a U.S. immigration reform, reiterating comments he had recently made in the the United States.
"I'm a big believer that as much as possible ... freedom of migration is a good thing," Gates said. "We're hopeful that we'll see some immigration reform ... Hopefully it will be something that provides predictability and as much freedom as migration as possible."
Gates said he spoke with government officials about how to increase the currently low technology use in small Mexican businesses in order to make them more competitive.
Calderon presented Gates with Mexico's highest medal of honor to a foreign citizen for his generosity to Mexico, in particular a recent $30 million hardware and $10 million software donation to a program that is connecting 2,700 public libraries to the Internet.
Gates said he expected to see all of the libraries connected by the end of the year.
Microsoft also is involved in establishing a digitalized "school of the future" in the western state of Sonora and a hospital with totally digitalized records in the western state of Jalisco, Gates said.
On the purely business side, Gates said he met privately with fellow billionaire and Mexican telecom magnate Carlos Slim to discuss ways of increasing online advertising and broadband penetration in Mexico.
The companies have a business partnership through Microsoft and Slim's telecommunications company, Telmex (TMX).
Gates also met with the presidents of Mexico's two dominant television networks, Televisa (TV) and Azteca, according to a news release from Microsoft Mexico.
Showing he was not a sore loser following his competition with Barcelona defender Marquez, Gates signed and gave the Xbox video game console to the soccer star, who presented him with a signed professional soccer T-shirt.