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Friday, October 14, 2005

Gates - On Microsoft and Continual Innovation

On a recent visit to the University of Michigan, Bill Gates spoke to about 1,000 high school and college students at Rackham Auditorium.

Regardless of what you think about Microsoft, you have to appreciate these takeaways:

  • Every morning when Bill Gates gets up, he thinks of pioneering high-tech companies like Digital Equipment Co., Wang and Control Data Corp. that in the early and mid-'70s were seemingly as invincible in their day as Microsoft is today. The lesson on what happened to those once top companies -- all now defunct -- has not been lost on Gates.
  • The strength in Microsoft, Gates said, is variety and constant innovation. "If you look at Microsoft, about half the things we do all by ourselves ... and we have no competitors," he said. "The other half of the things we do we succeed in by being super-good competitors. It's great to have that mix."
  • "You wake up each day and say, 'Wow, Google's doing a good job on this and Sony's doing a good job on that,' " he says. "You want to be forward-looking and always basically fearful. You better prove yourself every time."

BOTTOMLINE: Don't think Gates has lost his momentum. As Microsoft's new products roll out and people see the impact, there will be a "self-correcting reality," he predicted. In other words, the company isn't over the hill quite yet.

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