Bill GatesBill Gates will turn part-time at Microsoft in 2008 and spend more hours on charity. Here are my immediate thoughts in the area of e-books:

–Do Gates’ plans mean less interest at Microsoft in the tablet form factor for e-books, at least over the long run? Microsoft in the past has pushed e-books for the Tablet PC, and it will be doing the same for the Ultra-Mobile PC.

–Will Gates devote more time to e-books via the $29-billion Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation than before, and could this end up hurting the medium? What if he uses the foundation’s vast wealth to make the industry far, far more reliant on Microsoft e-format standards than it is now?

Currently, just a tiny fraction of the foundation’s money has gone toward libraries. Gates so far has been an electronic Carnegie not. He and his wife co-chair the foundation, however, and if they step up their book-related activities and are not careful, they could do a lot of damage to e-books and libraries.

If you go by one news story, this man might not be the most trustworthy on archival matters. I hope I’m wrong.

OK, so, what do you see as the e-book ramifications of the Gates phase-out, and in his place, what would you be doing about e-books, both at Microsoft and the Gates Foundation? I’m talking about all angles–technological and library, you name it. Just remember, Gates has many billions of dollars to spend, at a time when many public libraries are ill-funded.

Related: If only you’d listened to me in the ’90s, Bill Gates: Time now for a Road Ahead with e-book standards? and Bill Gates on e-books for K-12 and Needed: An independent Gates Library Foundation.


  1. Gates has never shown much interest in ebooks per se. The B&MGF is dedicated to other causes, so I doubt there will be any impact on ebooks at all from that angle.

    Ozzie is a wild card, though. He gets networking and collaboration, and any look at Longhorn server, Vista, SharePoint Portal 2007, Office 2007, even XBox Live all point in that direction. Given the paucity of updates to Microsoft Reader I don’t think MS really is in that game anymore.

  2. just how many billion due you have? Seriously anyone actually think that this will change Microsoft’s business practices is delusional. And of course since they can’t monopolize e-books they’re going to be uninterested.

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