Report: Bill Gates Remains Tied To Search

    August 20, 2008

The latest Nielsen stats put Microsoft’s share of the search market at an unimpressive 11.9 percent.  What’s more (or to be accurate, less), its year-over-year growth is negative.  But Microsoft’s search team has an interesting ally in its corner, as it turns out Bill Gates may still be lending some sort of hand.

Gates was supposed to have stopped participating in Microsoft’s everyday business about two months ago.  Philanthropic pursuits would more or less occupy the rest of his life.

Only Stephen Shankland reports that Scott Prevost, the general manager and product director at Powerset, said at SES San Jose, "Bill has definitely not retired for us."

Having Gates on hand should provide Microsoft’s search team with a huge morale boost, or at least a motivational dollop of fear.  There is the question of why Gates would choose to do this, yet some answers are obvious (he’s interested in search, he doesn’t like losing) and honestly, a billionaire’s thought pattern might not be easily followed.

The one other thing to consider is whether Prevost is simply wrong; Powerset represents a relatively fresh Microsoft acquisition, so perhaps the newbie failed to recognize the age of some old memo.

It’s likely that a life of writing checks day and night wouldn’t agree with Gates, though, and Microsoft’s search engine may be getting a little personal attention as a result.