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Gates to tangle with BBC's top attack interviewer

We feel sure somebody in the (Microsoft) Great Man's office has blundered...

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If you'd like to suggest a question to be put to Bill Gates by Jeremy Paxman in an interview on Sunday (BBC2 television, 20:00 BST) then just send an email to paxmanvsgates@bbc.co.uk It's unlikely that Gates will walk out in the middle of the interview as he did five years ago on the US Eye to Eye show, but we can but hope. Gary Clow, then CEO of Stac, which had won in court some $120 million from Microsoft when some unlicensed Stac compression code turned up in MS-DOS, said that dealing with Gates and Microsoft was not like playing hardball: it was "more like a knife fight". After Gates stormed off the set, it was more than an hour before he would leave the room where he had closeted himself. If anyone can engineer a repeat of this, it's surely Paxman. On one celebrated occasion Paxman asked Michael Howard, then Home Secretary, the same question 13 times, although in fairness it should be mentioned that Paxman had run out of questions and the director, talking into Paxman's earphone, urged him to carry on - so he pressed the question to which he thought he was not getting a straight answer. Gates has now had quite a bit of training in interview technique and has learnt to control his temper - but Paxman has the ability to get under his skin with a measure of urbanity that is likely to take Gates by surprise, however well his PR handlers have prepared him. Have Gates' handlers failed to assess Paxman properly before booking the boss in for a natter? Will they turn out to be in big trouble on Monday morning? Tune in next week, gentle readers... ®

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