The lengthy interview initially focused on the Gates Foundation's work tackling preventable disease, but shifted gently on to Gates'a friendship with Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, who died in October 2011 of a cancer-related illness.
"When he was sick I got to go down and spend time with him," he told Charlie Rose on CBS's 60 Minutes. "We talked about what we'd learned, about families, everything. He was not being melancholy, it was very forward-looking, saying we haven't really improved education with technology.
"He showed me the boat he was working on and said he was looking forward to being on it, even though we both knew there was a good chance that wouldn't happen. Thinking about your potential mortality isn't very productive."
Despite the intense competition between the two firms, Gates described how he Jobs "grew up together", maintaining their friendship since they first met in the late 1970s. Gates was asked to define Jobs's and Apple's success in contrast to Microsoft.
"We did lots of tablets well before Apple did but they put the pieces together in a way that succeeded," said Gates. "His sense of design, that everything had to fit a certain aesthetic, the fact that he, with as little engineering background as he had – it shows that design can lead you in a certain direction so that phenomenal products came out of it.
"He knew about brand in a very positive sense. He had an intuitive sense of marketing that was amazing."
Gates and Jobs also made a rare but well received appearance on stage together at the All Things Digital conference in 2007. When asked about their friendship, Jobs said that at the start of their careers they had each got used to being the youngest in the room – but now they had got used to being the oldest.
Jobs referred to a line from the Beatles song Two of Us, promoting a reverent sigh of affection from the crowd. "I think of most things in life as either a Bob Dylan or a Beatles song, but there's that one line in that one Beatles song ... 'You and I have memories longer than the road that stretches out ahead'."
Walter Isaacson's authorised biography of Steve Jobs revealed that Jobs spent $100,000 on DNA sequencing to tailor his cancer treatment accordingly.
"A doctor told Mr Jobs that the pioneering treatments of the kind he was undergoing would soon make most cancers a manageable chronic disease. Later, Mr Jobs told Mr Isaacson that we was going be one of the first 'to outrun a cancer like this' or be among the last 'to die from it'."
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