I want to qualify what I'm about to describe here with the following: Bill Gates is leaving (full-time) Microsoft. Soon. I get the feeling he doesn't necessarily ever accurately describe what's going on at the company. For example, he was recently (mis)quoted as saying that Windows 7 would ship as soon as "next year." (He didn't really say that, necessarily. See this post for details.)

Anyhoo.

Gates recently appeared at the Windows Digital Lifestyle Consortium in Japan where he gave a little talk. (See the complete transcript.) And since we're such tools, geeks the world over are hanging on every little mention of Windows 7, as if the seer of Redmond actually had something notable to say about a product that will ship two years after he leaves full-time work at the company. Here's what he says about Windows 7 in this speech:

We're hard at work, I would say, on the next version, which we call Windows 7. I'm very excited about the work being done there. The ability to be lower power, take less memory, be more efficient, and have lots more connections up to the mobile phone, so those scenarios connect up well to make it a great platform for the best gaming that can be done, to connect up to the thing being done out on the Internet, so that, for example, if you have two personal computers, that your files automatically are synchronized between them, and so you don't have a lot of work to move that data back and forth.

This is a description of Live Mesh, not Windows 7. And that alone should give you pause about the accuracy of his other comments here. For example:

  • Lower power, take less memory, be more efficient. This is awfully vague and basically meaningless, but an implicit reaction to some of the criticism of Vista.
  • Lots more connections up to the mobile phone. Today, Windows has zero connections "to the mobile phone." In fact, you have to download separate software, the Windows Mobile Device Center, in order to use a Windows Mobile-based phone with Windows Vista at all. Is WMDC going to be included in Windows 7? I mean, that's all it would take for this sentence to be true. Big deal. And totally expected.
  • Great platform for "the best gaming that can be done." Arguably, with its support for DirectX 10.1, Windows VIsta already achieves this. Given the lifetime of video game consoles, what Gates is really saying her is that Windows 7, an OS that will ship two years from now, will be a better gaming platform than the Xbox 360, a system that first shipped over two year ago. Exciting, eh?
  • Connect up to the thing being done out on the Internet. This is my favorite line, thanks to the tortured sentence structure. He's saying that Windows 7--get this--will be compatible with the Internet and the Internet services that Microsoft is already creating. Stop the presses, people. We have a headline.

But wait, there's more.

Also the effort to upgrade, I think that's an area we got a lot of feedback in Vista, that we need to invest in that, and we're going to make that very, very simple for people. So Vista is doing well, and we're hard at work putting even more investment now in the version that comes after that.

So... Microsoft will make it easier for people to upgrade to a new version of Windows? This is something that Microsoft worked on in both XP and Vista, so we're talking a simple evolution of pre-existing functionality. Big deal.

Oh, and Microsoft is hard at work on Windows 7.

So I ask you: Did Gates really say anything about Windows 7 here? Really?

No, not really.

So why do we hang on his every word again?