Interview: Bill Gates Opens Up

Microsoft's chairman and founder takes on Windows security critics, content rights, privacy and more.

Coming off a summer of widespread virus attacks, a year without a significant Windows update, and new attacks on Microsofts multimedia plans, Microsoft Chairman and CEO Bill Gates sat down with PC Magazine Editor-in-Chief Michael J. Miller late last year to set the record straight and talk about some of the bigger issues facing the technology industry.

Michael Miller: I thought Id start by talking about security. Its been a big issue this year. When I talk to readers, its probably their number-one concern. Theres a perception that Microsoft is to blame, to some extent, for some of whats going on. There are all the viruses, and there are worms, and there are lots of patches. How do you deal with that?

Bill Gates: Its our responsibility to make sure that PC computing is something thats extremely productive, that [viruses dont interfere with that] and they [users] dont have this underlying concern, "Jeez, did I do the right things?" So theres a ton of things that we need to do: Were going to default the firewall on, were going to work with broadband providers to do scans to make sure everybody has their system set up the right way. Most people, between defaulting the firewall on and having auto-update, never would have run into one of these problems, and they are not likely to run into problems in the future.

I should say a third thing. They [users] should be careful what attachments they click on. Most e-mail servers nowadays take out the dangerous attachments, but [users] have to participate a little bit [to get infected] in terms of downloading arbitrary [executable files] from Web sites or from e-mail they receive. We just need a clear message to consumers, and its our responsibility to work with the right partners in the industry to make that clear.