On May 5th, Microsoft co-founder and former CEO Bill Gates was interviewed by Liz Claman from Fox Business. In the interview, Gates was asked about various Microsoft related products, including the Xbox business. The idea of spinning off Xbox into its own business came about and unfortunately, Bill Gates was misquoted on his response.
"What about Xbox, Bill? It is such a different kind of business. It has huge potential. It has gotten a lot of attention with the Xbox One, why not just separate that out?" Claman asks during the interview. Gates responded by saying, "Well, we're taking PC gaming, Windows gaming, and Xbox gaming and bringing those a lot closer together. The power of the PC graphics chips means you can do great games there. So I'm sure Satya[Nadella] and the team will look at that, and, you know, it's up to them. But we're going to have an overall gaming strategy, so it's not as obvious as you might think."
While Bill was offering his answer, Claman interrupted Gates and asks, "Would you support him if he wanted to?" She was referring to CEO Nadella and if Gates would support his decision to spin off the Xbox business, if that ever came to fruition. Gates seemed to have ignored that question and continued explaining Microsoft's overall gaming strategy, which involves the Xbox. Claman asked a second time if Gates would support Nadella "if he wanted to" and Gates immediately answered "absolutely."
Now, it would appear that Bill Gates seemed like he would support Nadella if he decided to spin off the Xbox business. But that is not the case. In Gates' explanation, he emphasized that Microsoft was bringing PC gaming, Windows gaming, and Xbox gaming together (a lot closer in fact). It would make no sense for Microsoft to spin off the Xbox business when it is a part of the core gaming strategy.
"We're in the middle of a good, competitive battle in the console space with PlayStation, which is great for the industry. And they remain extremely committed to us succeeding with Xbox, which is nice to hear, right? It's something that resonates well inside the walls when you're talking to the teams, or when I stand in front of Xbox fans, I want to make sure that they understand we are extremely committed to this product," Gates explained.
Gates, however, supports Nadella as CEO, which was clarified by a tweet by lead communications for Microsoft, Frank X. Shaw:
Context: Bill’s comments re Xbox reflected support of Satya as CEO. Also said committed to gaming x-plat with Xbox as key to gaming strategy— Frank X. Shaw (@fxshaw) May 5, 2014
2/2 (should have started numbering earlier) :) Microsoft remains committed to Xbox and the millions of Xbox fans around the world.— Frank X. Shaw (@fxshaw) May 5, 2014
So as you can see, Shaw reiterated Microsoft's commitment to the Xbox business and reassures everyone that Gates' comments during the interview were merely in support of Nadella as CEO. But that's not what it sounds like when you watch the interview. (Head over here to watch the interview. Begin from the 27:00 mark.). The idea of spinning off Bing was also brought up, but Gates shot that down immediately.
The bottom line is, while it may appear during the interview that Gates supports the idea of a Xbox spinoff, it truly isn't the case. Unfortunately, numerous reports from large news sites have reported otherwise.
The question was "do you support the CEO if he decides to do something" not "do you think Xbox should be spun off". Come on, people.— Robert McLaws (@robertmclaws) May 5, 2014
Sony's PS4 has sold more than 7 million consoles as of April 2014, while Microsoft has indicated that they have only shipped more than 5 million Xbox One consoles to date. That's shipped, not sold. Microsoft's FY14 Q3 results revealed that 1.2 million Xbox One consoles were sold during that reporting period. The Xbox One may be behind the PlayStation 4 in sales, but Microsoft has big plans up their sleeves. The Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) is almost upon us and we're expecting to see more than just hype from the company. Remember, the console war has only begun.