Eran Kampf
Eran Kampf
3 min read

Bill Gates on Xbox 360

Engadget recently published the transcript for an interview they had with Bill Gates at CES. You can find it online at The Engadget Interview: Bill Gates (again!).
Some highlights:

The last time we sat down the Xbox 360 hadn’t been announced yet — or at least it hadn’t been officially unveiled yet. It’s been a couple months now, are you happy with how things have gone so far?

Well, I spent most of my Christmas playing Xbox 360.

Which games?

We played quite a variety. Actually, the Xbox Arcade was a big thing, a lot of the adults wanted to sit down and play for five or ten minutes. It was Hexic or Zuma that were easy for them to learn the rules, get used to the controller. We had some younger kids who were just beating the heck out of me at Project Gotham Racing, Kameo, basketball, Perfect Dark Zero. We have, I think, a dozen titles in total. And the thing that I thought would never happen really did happen to me, where I was standing 12 feet away and I thought, “Oh, they’re watching a basketball game,” and then as I walked up I realized, “No, no, they’re just playing Xbox 360.” So that was a lot of fun.

The only problem we’ve got is we’ve just got to make them faster, we’ve actually ramped up as fast as anybody ever has, but demand is still way ahead of us.

There were some shortages this holiday season.

The demand was phenomenal, and we did add Celestica as a third manufacturing partner. We think by the time we get to the 4.5 to 5.5 million unit level that the backlog won’t be all that substantial. So obviously it’s a good news situation, but we want to meet all the demand.

Are you ready for Sony later this year?

Well, we think so. We’ve got a lot of things that they don’t know that we’re doing, so we’ll keep them on edge a bit. We think that this whole thing has become very software centric; that is, the toolkits that let developers do their best creative work — that plays to our software strength, as well as the idea of Live, where we had to learn a lot with Xbox 1, and the decision to require broadband, to go with VoIP, but we learned a lot about wanting to put things into the operating system so you can chat even while you’re playing the games, it’s really a level of richness that the games are built on top of that we didn’t have that last time. We learned how to do that, we learned about contests and spectators, and so this is really a second generation of Live for us. It’s very based on software expertise, so it will be interesting to see what Sony does in that dimension.

We also now have a situation where if your friend has already bought an Xbox and you go to buy something that you want to play with them, it’s not like last time where at his house you play his game and at your house you play your game. Now it’s all online, you’ve got your achievements and things, so it will be a fascinating competition.