Bill Gates came to Microsoft’s Silicon Valley Campus on October 1 to give a quick talk on stuff going on in the company, our strategy, etc. One neat thing about Microsoft is that BillG and SteveB come talk to employees and there is no holds barred Q&A.
I asked Gates a question about the increase in content protection and what that means for media sharing within the house, across devices and for Microsoft in general. I think that many CEOs would probably rattle off some high level comments about this but Gates is able to dive deep on a wide range of topics and he proceeded to do so. Without going into the specifics here, in sum Gates took a very reasonable stance saying that the PC needs to be a more trusted device within the home so that it doesn’t get shut out by such developments as the broadcast flag, 5C/DTCP, CCI, OpenCable, etc. At the same time, the marketplace for content needs to consider content providers and content providers need to consider whether or not they will alienate their consumers. Microsoft needs to balance the interests of consumers and content providers by providing a rich set of tools in the platform to address these issues. With our platform, content providers can be as tight or as loose as they please with their content. Ultimately, it’s their decision and Microsoft merely provides a platform that lets them be as smart or as dumb as they wish to be.
Consumers have rejected DIVX (the DVDs that died, not the MPEG-4ish codec), copy protected CDs that provide no means to rip and SCMS crippled DAT decks. Consumers know when their options for media usage are being taken away and they desire the freedom to share media in a fair and responsible way.