It really is a new era at Microsoft — or maybe it’s a return to the company’s roots.
Bill Gates acknowledged in an interview on Fox News Sunday this weekend that he has switched to an Android phone, but was careful to point out that it runs “a lot of Microsoft software.” His move reflects Microsoft’s shift under CEO Satya Nadella to make the company’s Office software and other apps work across iPhone and Android devices, narrowing its own Windows Phone hardware business.
In some ways, the new reality matches the early days of Microsoft, when the company focused on making software for a wide variety of PC makers. Only in recent years has Microsoft started making its own computers, tablets and smartphones.
In his new book, Hit Refresh, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella writes about the surreal experience of standing on the Salesforce Dreamforce stage and showing off what he called an “iPhone Pro,” because it was running Office and Microsoft’s other top business applications.
Of course, the big difference with iPhone and Android is that Microsoft doesn’t make the operating system, which is why Gates jumping to Android is so notable, even if he still us using his favorite Microsoft apps. Gates made the offhanded remark after responding to a question from Chris Wallace about his relationship with Steve Jobs, his thoughts on the iPhone and the phone he currently uses.
“I happen to use all Windows-based PCs,” Gates said. “The phone that I have, recently I actually did switch to an Android phone with a lot of Microsoft software. But the competition in the software and IT space that Steve helped foster, it’s phenomenal, and Microsoft’s a big part of that. It’s been a miraculous industry that he and I got to work in.”
Wallace, who chuckled at the notion of Gates switching to Android, followed up: “So no iPhone?”
“Nope, no iPhone,” Gates answered.
The exchange was first noticed by the news site On MSFT. We’ve asked Gates’ representatives which Android phone he’s using, specifically. As noted by The Verge, Gates’ comments about the Microsoft software on the phone suggest it could be a Samsung Galaxy S8 with Microsoft apps bundled. We’ll update this post if we find out for sure.