SPIEGEL: What is that dream?
Gates: That we can globally communicate with one another without mistrust and can do it more creatively. To do this, for example, it is important that your identity is safe on the Internet. In the end it involves a promise, the promise of the digital age. But I also do not believe that the current difficulties can really endanger that.
SPIEGEL: Microsoft is not only a part of the solution, but also, because of its market power, part of the problem. When a company provides more than 90 percent of all personal computers with software it is inevitably a target for hackers interested in causing the most damage possible.
Gates: There are actually a large number of operating systems in addition to Windows, for example, such as OS from Apple or Linux and Unix...
SPIEGEL: ... but in the realm of normal personal computers, they don't play a large role worldwide.
Gates: The truth is: the fewer operating systems there are within a company, the better it is from a security point of view.
SPIEGEL: I beg your pardon?
Gates: Simply because one must spend billions of dollars to ensure the security of each individual system. Our company has an unbelievable number of people who are solely responsible for this type of security around the clock.
SPIEGEL: The particular charm of Linux is that it is an adaptable system that users can shape themselves.
Gates: If everything runs under the same platform, however, you can better concentrate resources and more quickly repair errors. For instance, in a hospital where different systems are used, a single problem in one section cause the other systems to crash. Thus, from a security standpoint it is always better to focus on one system.
SPIEGEL: But your small competitor Apple, for example, is much less frequently a victim of virus attacks ...
Gates: ... put so sweepingly, that is not correct. Of course we are the largest target, simply because we have the most widely disseminated system. But it affects others in exactly the same way. Linux is, in many respects, even more significantly affected.
SPIEGEL: In a few hours a Windows virus can travel across the world like an epidemic...
Gates: ... above all because of our global popularity. But we know that. And we must apply still more time and money to it. However, spam or data theft are not questions of the operating system. For this, you also need laws and global standards.
SPIEGEL: Once again: Windows is the most vulnerable.
Gates: You could look at that in many ways. The speed with which, for example, the Linux community reacts to problems is not especially high -- that's because this system, unlike ours, simply does not keep thousands of people on standby to deal with problems. In this respect, a commercially distributed operating system also has decisive benefits. Sweeping judgments don't help because we all have to take the problems seriously. Even Linux developers know that there is no miracle cure in Linuxland. They, too, must continue to work and continue to make progress.