BILL GATES:Everything we do here has to be incredibly flexible, because you're going to be doing your own sites, you might want things that are specific to your industry that, of course, Microsoft isn't going to have those things, so you need total flexibility because you're addressing all the different layers of the stack there.
And so all the interoperability standards here, whether it was XML to start with that we were a key part of giving that out as a standard, then the SOAP-level stuff, now we've moved up to a variety of techniques including Web services, all of those things are out there and free for people to use. Even the recent stuff that Ray has done about the simple list extensions, Live Clipboard, that's connecting up to everyone.
TIM O'REILLY: That's true, that stuff really wowed people when he demoed it at our e-Tech Conference. I thought, you know, this whole idea of the semantic Web is actually starting to happen in small ways with microformats, and I thought the fact that Ray picked up on that was really nice, he got a really great response from the geeks who were my audience.
BILL GATES: Well, I think his analogy that we've been exchanging data and had some standard formats within a machine, that he now would take that to, okay, let's exchange between different Web sites, it's going to take the idea of contact cards, scheduled appointments, set of directions, all these things where we move standard schema, we need microformats that people agree on, it's going to let that bootstrap. Because the more those things become standard, the more other Web sites choose them, and therefore the more popular they become.
TIM O'REILLY: Right, so that you get the network effects that really allow us to weave applications together.
BILL GATES: Right. And it's all very market driven. If some format is too rigid, then nobody is locked into that, somebody can come along and do something completely different.
It's great to see the work we've been doing on Microformats being picked up. Here's me telling Ray Ozzie about them less than a year ago: Windows Media format.