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Philanthropy a personal choice: Gates

He will, however, miss being at centre of activity and making hard decisions at Microsoft, admits the software mogul.

india Updated: Jun 19, 2006 11:43 IST

Microsoft founder Bill Gates has said that his decision to devote more time to philanthropy was a "personal choice" as he felt an increased desire to spend more time with his charity foundation, which spends millions of dollars in India to fight HIV/AIDS and other diseases.

Gates, who announced his surprise decision last week to step down from the day-to-day running of Microsoft in 2008, said he would have continued working "super hard" for developing software if the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation didn't exist.

"Clearly if I didn't have the foundation I would be staying here full time and working super, super hard because I love working on software. But I was feeling an increased desire to spend more time on foundation work," Gates told Newsweek in an interview.

A significant amount of his charity work is concentrated in India, where the foundation has committed nearly $300 million from its $30 billion corpus to fight AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis and other diseases.

Gates, the world's richest man who announced on Thursday his decision of handing over the title of Microsoft "chief software architect" to Ray Ozzie in two years time said, "It was always clear that day would come at some point. It's actually pretty rare for somebody to have two things to do that they love and feel like they're important and challenging."

The software mogul said he will "miss being at the centre of activity and making these hard decisions" at Microsoft, but maintained he would be happy working for his foundation.

"There's a part of me that goes, 'Wow, do you really understand how much you're going to miss that?' There will be days when I'm sitting [at the foundation and] going-'Gosh, those guys are sitting over there making cool decisions and I'm not.'

"But there will [also] be days I'm grokking education or health care and I'll go, 'Wow, this is what I enabled myself to do, and the foundation is going to be smarter and do better things because of it,'" he said.

Gates said he has plans to study health and education a lot once he assumes full-time duties at the foundation beginning in July 2008.

"Education is this mysterious thing," he said.

"For the US to continue its strength I think it's almost necessary for our education system to be a lot better. So I want to learn all that. I want to sit in schoolrooms, read books, look at people who think they have technology solutions," Gates said.

On global warming, Gates said he would read a lot more on the subject in two years from now and think whether there's something the foundation should do in the area.

"I'm already reading some books on energy and the environment, but I will read a lot more two years from now and think whether there's something the foundation should do in those areas. The angle I'll have when I'll look at most things is, What about the four billion poorest people? What about energy and environmental issues for them?" Gates added.