Gates reflects on his relationship with Steve Jobs

The two tech luminaries talked with each other often about professional and personal aspects of their lives, the Microsoft co-founder tells Yahoo and ABC News.

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Steve Jobs and Bill Gates in a rare joint appearance at the D Conference in 2007. Ina Fried/CNET

Contrary to popular belief, Steve Jobs and Bill Gates maintained a close friendship over the years, the Microsoft co-founder tells Yahoo and ABC News.

"He and I always enjoyed talking. He would throw some things out, you know, some stimulating things," Gates said in a wide-ranging interview scheduled to air tonight. "We'd talk about the other companies that have come along. We talked about our families and how lucky we'd both been in terms of the women we married. It was great relaxed conversation."

The two had a complex relationship: they sometimes partnered, always competed, and often challenged each in ways that led to a reshaping of the tech landscape.

In the early days, Apple depended on Microsoft's software for its Macintosh but sued the software giant for infringing on the patents regarding the look and feel of its operating system. Those patent claims were in 1997 when Microsoft agreed to make a $150 million investment in Apple--an investment that benefited Microsoft and allowed Apple to regain its financial footing.

Jobs' death last year affected Gates profoundly, leading to introspection of his own mortality, he said.

"It's very strange to have somebody who's so vibrant and made such a huge difference and been... kind of a constant presence, to have him die," Gates said. "It makes you feel like, 'Wow, we're getting old.' I hope I still have quite a bit of time for the focus I have now, which is the philanthropic work. And there's drugs we're investing in now that won't be out for 15 years--malaria eradication, I need a couple of decades here to fulfill that opportunity. But, you know, it reminds you that you gotta pick important stuff, because you only have a limited time."

The full interview is scheduled to air today at 11:35 p.m. PT/ET on ABC's "Nightline."