Bill Gates talks Windows 8, Steve Jobs, and his giant, 80-inch touchscreen

If you could ask Bill Gates anything, what would your question be?

The Microsoft co-founder and billionaire philanthropist took to Reddit in a refreshingly engaging “ask me anything” (AMA) session, covering a wide range topics from his favorite band and his relationship with Steve Jobs to his battle to eradicate polio.

Any question of the charitable tech guru’s e-popularity was quickly put to rest; with over 12,000 upvotes, Gates closed in on President Obama’s record of around 13,800. But where Obama might have skirted more controversial questions, Gates seemed to revel in the moment, answering a surprising amount of requests.

So what did we learn from the co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation, the “largest transparently operated” private foundation in the world?

He’s funny.

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When asked if he had anything left on his bucket list, he replied: “Don’t die...” And if he had to choose between Windows 7 or 8? “Higher is better.”


He’s humble.

On his less than flattering portrayal in the 90s made for TNT movie “the Pirates of Silicon Valley” -- which starred Noah Wyle as Jobs and Anthony Michael Hall as Gates -- Gates admitted that it was “reasonably accurate...”

He’s interesting.

What does a billionaire like Bill Gates do for fun, aside from building phenomenally successful software companies and saving the world from deadly disease? “I love playing tennis. I am an avid bridge player (a card game if you have not heard of it -- it was more popular in the past!). I like to tour interesting things with my kids like power plants, garbage dumps, the Large Hadron Collider, Antarctica, missile Silos (Arizona)...”

And unsurprisingly, he’s a total nerd.

When asked to pick his favorite Microsoft product that never saw the light of day, he chose WinFS. As he describes it: “We had a rich database as the client/cloud store that was part of a Windows release that was before its time. This is an idea that will remerge since your cloud store will be rich with schema rather than just a bunch of files and the client will be a partial replica of it with rich schema understanding.”

He’s incredibly loyal.

The computer he’s using right now? “I just got my Surface Pro a week ago and it is very nice. I am using a Perceptive Pixel display right now -- a huge Windows 8 touch whiteboard. These will come down in price over time and be pervasive... ."

Possibly to the point of delusion. (We joke.)

When asked if he actually used Bing, he said: “Bing is the better product at this point. Try the challenge. I am biased but the work to make Bing better has been amazing.”

But more than anything, he’s passionate.

On the world-wide health causes he and his foundation are tackling: ““Polio is the first thing to get done since we are close. Within 6 years we will have the last case. After that we will go after malaria and measles. Malaria kills over 500,000 kids every year mostly in Africa and did not get enough attention until the last decade.”

And despite the “friendly” rivalry, he and Steve Jobs had a mutual respect.

“He and I respected each other. Our biggest joint project was the Mac where Microsoft had more people on the project than Apple did as we wrote a lot of applications. I saw Steve regularly over the years including spending an afternoon with him a few months before he tragically passed away...”

Of course, there was one question he conveniently glossed over. When asked on the AMA if he owned any Apple products, Gates was MIA.