Everyone knows Mircrsoft’s chief, Bill Gates but few know his number two. Craig Mundie is the software giant’s senior vice president. He mixes with government and business leaders, addresses issues of security and privacy and is responsible for Mircosoft policy and strategies worldwide. Euronews recently caught up with this influential man while he was making a visit to Lisbon.
EuroNews: “Mr Craig Mundie, welcome to EuroNews. The intelligence technology is booming again but aren’t you afraid that a new bubble box could happen like in 1999?” Craig Mundie, Microsoft Senior Vice President: “No. When I think of information technology broadly, I don’t think of it as something that is just going to come and then go away. In fact, the dot-com bubble that we had really came from a new opportunity using information technology and communications and the world, you know, invested a huge amount of money. That is now going through a stabilizing effect. But the underlying trends in information technology have been improving throughout that entire period. And I expect that to continue.” Euronews: “India and China have very skilled people especially in the high technology sector. Do you think that Europe one day will lag behind these two giants? Craig Mundie: “I think both China and India have been investing in different ways to participate in information technology industries. And in fact have been investing in more fundamental ways than has been largely true in Europe for quite some time. This ranges from a greater focus on engineering and science education at every level in the system, thereby producing more engineers trained in these particular disciplines than Europe is producing. In fact, that ratio is probably more than five to one today. Euronews: “As a representative of Microsoft, do you think that it is more difficult to work in the European Union than in any other area of the world?” Craig Mundie:“If we talk about knowledge workers. Europe still has a huge talent pool that has been developed all over a long period of time in this area. Unfortunately, it is ageing and not being replaced as quickly with young people. The educational institutions are not regerating that capacity at the same rate that is now emerging in the other countries. And so, well, in China and India, they are stil much younger in the development of their ability to invent new technologies themselves. They are clearly desirous of doing that and laying the foundations to do that in the years ahead.” Euronews: “Do you think that problems such as the antitrust authority’s decisions and the EU patent law decide by the European Parliament are hampering the activity of your company here in the European Union?” Craig Mundie: “Frankly, these issues that either Microsoft has had or more broadly that the intellectual property related industries have had in Europe and the debate around the question here of intellectual property, well it poses some challenge to Microsoft. I think it is much more fundamentally a question of how will these critical technology businesses emerge and be sustainable within Europe itself.If it doesn’t rise to a world standard of intellectual property recognition and enforcement that we certainly have in the United States and Japan and I expect to actually see emerge in places like China and India. Euronews: “Do you think that European Union countries will need important and huge social reforms in order to be competitive on a global scale?” Craig Mundie: “The experiences I have in looking now at places like China and India and other countries in Asia: because they have such a large percentage of their total population who essentially are, you know, in a welfare or poverty environment, they really look differently at the challenge of making those people a productive member of the society. They know that there is no way to just support them. They must essentially make them productive. And I think they see technology as an opportunity to do that. In the social reforms as I listen to people talk about them here, because there is a much smaller percentage of the population that are in this welfare or disenfranchised state, there is still a lot of focus on what we can do to help them and I think perhaps there needs to be an equal focus on, not on what we do to help and protect them, but on what we do to help them become productive members of the society.”