Stewart picked up the shiny new package with the Vista release inside. What if I dont know how to use it?
Call me, Gates said, to great audience laughter.
Stewart asked a question he expected no answer to: Whats your password?
The Microsoft chairman just smiled, but Stewart kept probing for the magic combination. Is it gates?
Just more smiles from the chairman.
Do you have any pets? (Many people unfortunately use their pet's name as a password.) Gates said he hasn't gotten his kids any pets yet.
Did you ever have a pet when you were younger? What was the pets name? The audience cheered Stewarts effort to hack in to Microsoft.
Thats not my password, Gates said with a laugh.
The Sensitive Topic
The subject was unavoidable, and it finally came up.
We can be frank here, Stewart said, noting that security is a key issue for the companys software, and that the effort to hack Microsoft products is never-ending. Some Danish 13-year-old is working on some crazy worm that says Jessica Simpson wants to go out with you click and its World War VIII!
Asked Stewart: Do you hire people who can outsmart the worm people?
Yeah, 14-year-olds, said Gates, laughing. Seriously, Gates explained the new Web filters in Vista, stressing the parental controls.
Stewart addressed the camera: Good bye, porn!
TV on Your Computer
The conversation moved beyond Vista, to the future of technology in general.
Stewart wondered, When are we going to get jet packs?
While jet packs arent on the drawing board, Gates said, he mentioned Microsoft initiatives in robots and TV over the Internet.
Stewart asked if the recent history of technology has enfolded as Gates had dreamed it would.
The Microsoft chairman reminisced about his teenage years with Paul Allen, and how they had envisioned future machines as incredibly powerful and interactive tools. So theres still a few things left to be done that were part of that original vision.
Computer technology has not yet fulfilled even half of its potential, Gates said, in terms of learning and productivity. Even TV will be revolutionized, he said, as it moves to the Internet.
The degree to which he emphasized that future TV viewers will be able to mold content to their own interests suggests this will be a major Microsoft initiative. For example, he said, viewers will be able to shape Olympics coverage just as they see sit.
Asked Stewart: Could I make somebody fall?
Gates: Well work on that.
Man on a Mission
Wrapping things up, Gates noted that hed be in Europe for a few days promoting Vista, then, I get to go back home.
Stewart thanked Gates for coming on, then something odd happened. As Stewart was leading applause for the Microsoft chairman, Gates stood up, smiled, waved, and walked off the set.
Typically, of course, guests wait for the commercial break. Not Gates.
Hes leaving! Stewart mock complained. "He cant just leave like that!
But the chairman was gone. Years ago he left Harvard, dropping out because he was too busy fulfilling his own dream to wait around for a Harvard degree. Now he wasnt going to wait around for the commercial break, no matter how awkward it looked.
Hes still a man in a hurry, a man on a mission. That mission will be harder in the years ahead, so theres no time to waste. The Microsoft chairman wont be sitting passively as the future arrives.