Bill Gates, Steve Ballmer Reminisce

(CBS/Larry Magid)
It was a joy listening to Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer reminisce about the past as they sat on stage at the Wall Street Journal's "All Things Digital Conference" in Carlsbad, California Tuesday night. Responding to questions from conference co-hosts Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher, the two talked about the early days at Microsoft, their early worries about running out of money and their 28 year long working relationship at Microsoft.

But while reports on their past made for interesting listening, I wasn't so impressed about what they had to say and show about the future. I was particularly aghast at the demo they did of Windows 7.0, the successor to Microsoft Vista. Vista, which took several years and more than $5 billion to create has not exactly been jumping off the shelves though there's no denying that plenty of people are using Vista that came bundled on their PC. Still, when given a choice, plenty of people say they prefer to stick with the old Windows XP while Apple enjoys tremendous growth in its market share, made up largely of Windows defectors.

Admittedly, Windows 7 is in the early development stages and I'm sure there will be lots of new features but in the first public sneak preview of its interface, the Microsoft VP who joined Gates and Ballmer on stage demonstrated the "multi-touch interface." To this technosavvy audience it looked an awful lot like the interface on the Apple iPhone leading several people I spoke with to wonder "what were they thinking."

Ballmer said that Windows 7.0 would be out in 2009 (though they're always late) which makes me wonder if their goal is to replace Vista sooner rather than later.

For more on this as well as some quotes from my brief conversations with Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer, see my column here on CBSNews.com.
  • Larry Magid

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