LiveSide asks Bill Gates a question (how cool is that?) – Read the full transcript

Just got the transcript of our hour with Bill Gates, so I wanted to get it up for you as soon as I could.  Bill started out with a little preamble about the future of computing, and then it was on to the questions.  By the luck of the seating arrangement, we went first:

Tim Harris: Well, what we thought we’d do is just make sure everyone gets an opportunity, we’ll go around the room, and we’ll go ahead and start with Kip, and then we’ll go from there.


Kip Kniskern: Yeah, I read (edit: this was actually “write”) about Windows Live, and if you could just kind of assess where you think Windows Live is right now, and what do you think the perception of Windows Live versus some of your competitors is now. It seems like that Microsoft — maybe the tools are there, but maybe the perception of it being the cool thing to use, at least U.S.-centric, isn’t as good as (off mike).

BILL GATES: Well, it’s hard to say. I mean, Messenger has a certain strength, Hotmail has a certain strength. We’re doing a broad set of things under that Windows Live banner.

The first time we actually delivered on Live as something that’s kind of unified and integrated together is the Windows Live 2 download that we just did, what’s that, like a month ago, and the numbers on that are super good, and we’re just in the planning for what we call wave three, and the kind of things we’re going to build into that. So, we feel pretty good about it.

All those consumer services are basically big, big volume. They’re tiny businesses in a sense, but they’re very important for the population of users that you connect up to and the opportunities you get out of that.

Some of the things like state in the sky, obviously we want to do a lot more innovation so that everybody just understands that they should use that. Today, no matter whose thing it is, .Mac or the various eDrive cloud store type things, they actually are all pretty small share, they’re kind of messy to use. We think that by the way that we’ll connect up to Windows in a rich way we’ll be able to do something pretty dramatic there, but that awaits the next big wave that comes along.

So, those are all businesses that are going quite well. Messenger is the lead product in most countries in the world. I think Hotmail is still the lead in most countries or number two in most countries, so they’re fairly strong.

There are people doing other things, and nobody really has kind of the breadth I’d say that we have. Maybe Yahoo! comes the closest to it, but you’ll just have to see how that unfolds in terms of the usage and the numbers.

It was a very interesting hour of discussion, including lots more about storage in the cloud and other Windows Live related stuff.  We’ll be dissecting the conversation more thoroughly, but wanted our readers to be able to get their hands on the transcript.  Bill got pretty animated when he was asked about Microsoft and innovation, very fun stuff.  Here’s the full transcript, it’s well worth reading, enjoy.

just added: Here’s our class picture:

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Jonathan, Julie, Kelly, Rob, Bill Gates, Molly, Kip, Jesse, Keith, Erik