Microsoft chairman Bill Gates says he believes that “software can improve the TV experience” and he sees Microsoft TV as being “quite a profitable business”.

In an interview with Business Week, Bill Gates describes the reaction to an interactive television demonstration of baseball coverage at the Consumer Electronics Show as a revelation. “It just reminded me people care about the TV viewing experience. If you can really make it better, then it’s a very profound impact.”

He was also enthusiastic about the possibilities for video, audio or text chat while watching television. “That stuff gets incredible responses, and it’s only when you get that IPTV framework that you get the chance for that kind of innovation.”

The Microsoft chairman said that when SBC first came to talk about IPTV there were just a few people at the telecom company that believed in the idea. At Microsoft they found ‘kindred folks’ who could help them promote the idea back at head office, although apparently there was no need to call upon Bill Gates to make the call.

He added that if the software corporation can win a number of cable and telecom deals it could amount to a “pretty good-sized business”.