Bill Gates: Microsoft thinking about selling Xbox division?

Art Villasanta

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Thursday, May 08 2014

Bill Gates

Microsoft co-founder and the company's newly appointed technical advisor Bill Gates said in a television interview he would support Microsoft Corporation if it decided to sell its  Xbox division.

Gates' comments seem to support comments made by new CEO Satya Nadella, who said the company should focus on its core markets—and those markets aren't gaming. It's also being rumored that Stephen Elop, Vice President of Microsoft's Devices & Services unit, wants to sell off both the Xbox and Bing businesses.

In an interview with Fox Business, Gates didn't come out as being for or against a potential sale of the Xbox unit, but his responses strongly hinted that the company is continuing to think about the possibility.

Gates said he's certain that "Satya and the team would look at that (selling the Xbox division) and it's up to them." If the new CEO chose do so, Gates said he would "absolutely" support him.

Investors have been calling for Microsoft to sell off Xbox and Bing for years. Microsoft, however, has been loath to do so and has continued investing in both units.

"We're thinking about, are there pieces that are separable," Gates said.

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"We're taking PC gaming, Windows gaming and Xbox gaming, and bringing those a lot closer together," Gates said. He noted that Microsoft has an overall gaming strategy so an Xbox sell off is "not as obvious as you might think."

It's also worth pointing out that Bill Gates said in the same interview: "We're taking PC gaming, Windows gaming and Xbox gaming, and bringing those a lot closer together." Here he is probably referring to the fact that Microsoft now uses a common Windows 8-based kernel across PC, smartphone, tablet, and game console — and if these platforms are intrinsically linked, he says a sell-off is "not as obvious as you might think."

After Gates' comments, Frank Shaw, who is currently lead communications for Microsoft, tweeted: "Bill's comments re Xbox reflected support of Satya as CEO — not support for a possible sale of the Xbox division."

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