Bill Gates jokes Microsoft Bob will make a comeback

Microsoft co-founder and Chairman Bill Gates is devoted to helping education in the U.S. through grants from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, but he apparently doesn't think that the current trend for wearable computing, such as Google Glass, will be a boost in schools.

As part of his keynote address during today's Microsoft Research Faculty Summit, Gates responded to a question from an online viewer concerning the possible use of wearable technology in education. After smiling at the question, Gates responded with an obviously humorous answer, "It will help you cheat, I guess."

After that bit of levity in an otherwise dry keynote and Q&A, Gates responded more seriously to the question, stating that while wearable technology is a "very cool thing" and saying, "I don't really couple it that much to education."

Gates took a number of questions from both the live audience today as well as online viewers who watched the keynote. When asked by an audience member what the next step will be in terms of advancing computer use in the home for ordinary people, Gates said that when regular folks use the web or Office software and that "there's all sorts of capability in there that, if you had to explain it to them, they could get more out of it."

Gates believes that the long-standing idea of the "Personal Agent" is now actually possible and that the gap between what the software can do for people and what people actually use software for will be reduced.

Gates even brought up Microsoft Bob, the Windows software launched in 1995, a few months before Windows 95, that was supposed to bring some personality to a user's PC. It's often named as one of Microsoft's biggest failures and Gates even said today "that was definitely premature."

He suggested, half in jest, that something similar to what Microsoft Bob was supposed to do might show up someday, saying, "I think it will re-emerge, but perhaps with a bit more sophistication. We were just a bit ahead of our time, like most of our mistakes."

Source: Microsoft | Images via Microsoft and Alex St John

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for cracking that joke, bill is probably not "getting any" from melinda for the next few months. seeing as how she was one of the program manager for BOB.

At first I read the headline as "Bill Gates jokes Microsoft will make a comeback" and admired the honesty on display.

If you look at every single product Microsoft has done over the years you'll always see the same complaints - it's too big, it's too slow, who would ever want that? Microsoft is a software company. They tend to make software for tomorrow's hardware, not today's. Sometimes they're just too far off the mark when it comes to predicting which way and how fast hardware will go.

The mobile phones is a perfect example. Microsoft were nearly ten years ahead of Apple but the hardware never materialised. Apple made exactly the right call in terms of timing. Yet next to nothing in the original iPhone came from Apple - they only acted as an "aggregator" pulling in technologies from many different sources and using their brand name to push it.

This is a very clear example of the difference between Apple and Microsoft. Microsoft have far superior technology. Apple have far superior marketing. Time will tell - a funny thing to say just as Apple are about to introduce iWatch.

Nice story but there's a difference in mobile phones and why Apple pushed MS into a little corner.

Microsoft wanted to go with stylus inputs, not finger touch.
Apple then came with finger touch... MS tried to stick to stylus, but failed and lost marketshare like no tomorrow. But finger touch was not MS's plan, they eventually went with it and almost completely dropped the stylus in favor of people wanting to control their devises with their fingers.

Says you. I very much enjoy Windows 8, on my surface and desktop. As well, the only user hostile practice that took place with the drm was the reversal of the new features and removing the drm policy.

Nothing wrong with Win8. If you hate that modern crap.. DONT USE IT.

Stop bringing down the entire frigging OS for 1 of its features. That's absolutely retarded.

That's like crying "I hate the default calculator, so the entire OS is f*cking horrible"

Cause its such a complete and utter horror?
You are aware the start screen is not much more then a combined start menu and desktop right? If they had promoted it as a new desktop background.. but in the foreground... People would be happy and cheer.
And a simple google query like "I WANT MY START MENU BACK" is enough for you to get it back.

Linux wont be up to your preferences out of the box, neither OSX or any OS out there. That's why there's customization.

Oh and if you don't like the way MS is going, stop disabling feedback to MS. Most that complain never let MS get usage feedback.

If MS Bob is back and its called Windows 8... Then where is the home environment? Where's the dog that roams around or the bird that I can click on?

MorganX said,
There would be an Apple. How successful early Macs would have been without Word and Excel is questionable though.

You missed the bailout?
Apple was going bankrupt and Bill Gates basically saved Apple and forced Apple to hire back Steve Jobs. Which in return came with the iPhone, iPad and other stuff that made Apple what it is today.

It was more of a gesture, they did not financially bailout Apple. However, it was a sign of confidence that did have a positive impact. I believe it was 250 Million.

That's not to say the companies haven't benefitted from each others' existence. In fact they have traded engineers over the years as well as executives.

MorganX said,
It was more of a gesture, they did not financially bailout Apple. However, it was a sign of confidence that did have a positive impact. I believe it was 250 Million.

A gesture? I don't think so... Considering the company was going belly up and MS injected cash into the company to keep them alive... I think Microsoft is one of the largest un-controlled share holders within Apple?

250 mill was a lot back then,

Its more a cost saving measure, its cheaper for Microsoft to have Apple in the game than handle the costs of being a Monopoly

The company wasn't going "belly" up. It wasn't so far back that 250 million would have bailed Apple out. It was a gesture of confidence and reinsured investors and the market that Microsoft was not going to abandon Apple, and Office for Mac in particular at the time. It was a confidence building gesture. I like Microsoft as much as the next person but you guys are being ridiculous with this bailout talk, as well as rewriting history.

Well, I can't argue with that since the writer said "might." Clearly, he's just taking a fact he knows and throwing that out there. If his numbers are correct it was only 150Million. A lot then, and now, but just not a bailout of Apple. Who knows if Jobs was being flippant. Bankruptcy in business is a mercurial thing. Since we're guessing, I'm going to guess if Jobs was being literal, they weren't 150 Million dollars away from bankruptcy, and could have gotten that much from just about anywhere including their own executives.

I personally wouldn't characterize it as a bailout, Microsoft never did, and just having lived through the period and given the size of Apple even then, doubt it.

I can live with Microsoft's public show of support help Apple through one of their toughest periods when the industry was losing confidence in them. But financial bailout eh. I'd really have to see some factual evidence of that.

You need factual evidence of the 150million USD bailout? Google is thy friend sir.

@brent3000, MS already sold its Apple shares a long time ago, not sure if they still have some shares but they are far from a large shareholder.

Shadowzz said,
@brent3000, MS already sold its Apple shares a long time ago, not sure if they still have some shares but they are far from a large shareholder.

Well I type corrected on that matter then All I know if that at one stage had a lot of un-controlling shares, if they still have them is another point

MorganX said,
Well, I can't argue with that since the writer said "might." Clearly, he's just taking a fact he knows and throwing that out there.

Well as the company never did go bankrupt anything is speculation, but that 150mill sure made a sudden change in apples direction

Why? Isnt Android's strong feature the 'personalization'?
Compiz with the 3d desktop, Apple even tried a more 3d desktop approach, well most android 'desktops' or rather homescreens have all sorts of fancy 3d goodness.

Bringing this 3d to the desktop with 95 was indeed ahead of its time. And perhaps a bit poor at the time.

UXGaurav said,
Oh so mistakes are being labeled as being ahead of time.

I'll give you a big example of that, Windows Tablet that came out in the early 90s. Yes, Apple had an idea on the tablet earlier, but Microsoft managed to manufacture theirs with their OEM partners. However, at that time, the tablet was more regulated to business because broadband wasn't for everyone at that time, let alone sophisticaed websites, or even social media. Look what we have now, and guess who managed to leverage all of that, Apple's iPad.

Are you familiar with the Newton. One of the few Apple products from that era I loved. Better than any tablet or pen device MS ever made, pre-Surface IMO. I wish I still had my old one.

MS has the most services of any software company out there. Now that they are free to integrate those services as they wish and leverage all of their talent, I have no doubt that they will make a resurgence as THE dominant company in all areas of technology innovation.

This is the second time today that I read that most of old things done in the past by Microsoft were ahead of their time. It can't be a mere coincidence. Oh beautiful synchronicity.

Back to the topic I really look forward to this companion. Microsoft TellMe with Cortana's voice? Make that happen!!!

Well they were, except in the important areas like internet connected PC's, tabs for IE etc. They were first with a tablet OS in 2001, only Apple perfected it much later, and the idea of MS Bob was like a personal assistant that sort of ended up in Office under "Clippy" and friends I suppose.

Then there's Surface (the interactive tabletop I mean) their attempt at a smartphone "The Courier" before the iPhone came out. It's a shame really that they don't read the market/consumer interest as well as others seem to!

You can't sit too comfortably at the thrown either. Windows 8 is a step in the right direction and I like what I'm seeing with 8.1

Honestly though every other Windows release is like this but it gets better with the next iteration that builds on-top it.

The joke's on you. He just earned a couple of more millions at the same time it took you to type your comment.

Motoko. said,
He should be joking about how Windows will make a comeback

Your comment was more of a joke, its hard to make a come back when you still dominate the market.

ShareShiz said,
I was also including tablets, smartphones, anything with a OS on it.

So yeah 90% on desktops, but ~70% overall.

If you're going to include these, why not also include cash registers, cars and lots of other things that have embedded software in them? 95%+