What to ask Gates, Jobs when they share the stage

Gates and Jobs to share Wall Street stage this week

The last time the general public saw Microsoft chief Bill Gates and Apple head honcho Steve Jobs together was the 1999 docu-drama The Pirates of Silicon Valley starring Noah Wyle (Jobs) and Anthony Michael Hall (Gates). While those imposters can be had on DVD for $US7.95 at Amazon.com, the real guys will have a rare 75-minute sit-down together this week at the Wall Street Journal's D: All Things Digital conference in Carlsbad.

The two, who last appeared together in 1983 at an Apple event, will share their views on, and hopefully debate, the past and future of the digital revolution as part of an unscripted conversation with Journal reporters Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher. There won't be any questions taken from the audience, but if there were, here are 10 we would like to ask. At the bottom of this article, add your own question.

Gates: Why is Microsoft making so much noise about patents now, can you divulge what the patents are for, and will you seek royalty payments from open source vendors/users?

Jobs: With Mac OS X, why Unix, why now?

Gates: Is there an operating system that "runs in the cloud" under development at Microsoft and how does it change computing in the future?

Jobs: Will users ever see retail sales package of OS-X sitting next to Vista in the local computer store? Why/why not?

Gates: How much will online advertising define the Microsoft of the future?

Jobs: Will Apple ever create an enterprise business around management and support of Macs, XServers and storage?

Gates: Why is the Zune better than the iPod?

Jobs: Why are you so secretive about future development and product roadmaps?

Gates: In retrospect, what good might have come from the Department of Justice breaking up Microsoft into a number of smaller companies?

Jobs: Are you accepting scripts for those PC vs. Mac commercials?

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