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Paul Allen's Microsoft Experience 515

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the looking-in-from-outside dept.
theodp writes "Just in case Microsoft bashers don't have enough ammo, Robert X. Cringely has a couple of interesting tales in this week's column. The first explains how Bill Gates used Paul Allen's moonlighting at MITS to justify awarding himself 64% of Microsoft's stock vs. Allen's 36% (and Gates' failure to adjust the shares after he accepted a $10/hour part-time MITS job). The second heart-warming tale concerns a conversation Allen reportedly overheard late one night (as he was finishing up DOS 2.0) between Gates and Steve Ballmer discussing how to get Allen's Microsoft stock back if the Hodgkins disease Allen was battling killed him. Yikes."
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Paul Allen's Microsoft Experience

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  • flamebate? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by cyranthus (893560) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @05:34PM (#15046880) Homepage
    oh come on, this isnt news this is flamebate, get it off the front page!
  • by Pieroxy (222434) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @05:39PM (#15046890) Homepage
    To be fair with Bill Gates, Microsoft's success has much more to do with him than Paul Allen!
  • Re:Just in case (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ctid (449118) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @05:46PM (#15046923) Homepage
    I think you need to read the penultimate paragraph of Cringely's article before dismissing this as just another personal attack. What he is suggesting is extraordinary - so extraordinary that I find it hard to believe, but it's certainly news that he wrote it. By any standards, it belongs on Slashdot.

  • Yikes??!! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by USAPatriot (730422) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @05:46PM (#15046924) Homepage
    The second heart-warming tale concerns a conversation Allen reportedly overheard late one night (as he was finishing up DOS 2.0) between Gates and Steve Ballmer discussing how to get Allen's Microsoft stock back if the Hodgkins disease Allen was battling killed him. Yikes."

    First of all, Cringely doesn't even attribute this information to a real source in his article, so there is no way anybody can even verify this. He just says two good sources, which mean almost nothing.

    The second thing is, this sort of planning happens all the time at every big company. I know most of the slashbots probably never worked a real job, but it's good planning in the corporate world to know plan for where such a huge share of stock is going to go.

    In short, this article is such a hack job looking for biters, I don't even know why it was posted to slashdot. Wait, actually this was a perfect article for slashdot.

  • Mod Parent Down (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MyLongNickName (822545) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @05:46PM (#15046925) Journal
    Try reading the article. Allen in no way "cries". Generally, he has kept his mouth shut, and the only way this article was written was based on third party information and other research. He has shown a lot of class over the years... but it is easy to take a cheap shot, isn't it?
  • by Raul654 (453029) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @05:51PM (#15046941) Homepage
    Let's say, hypothetically, Allen had died of Hodgkin's lymphoma in 1982, as discussed in the story. At that point, he owned 36% of Microsoft. The shares, as his personal property, would have been deeded out in his will (let's say to hypothetical party X), gone through probate, and then X would have them. How would Balmer and Gates have "gotten them back"?
  • by Puchku (615680) <<Email> <at> <adityanag.com>> on Sunday April 02, 2006 @05:52PM (#15046950) Homepage
    Not that I like Bill or his business tactics, but to be fair to him, isn't it true that the B&MG Foundation has donated a few billion dollars to worthy causes? Not to mention Bill's public and well known intention to give away as much money as possible before his death? I mean, sure, the guy is a shark in business.. but he's not exactly Darth Vader, y'know..
  • by MyLongNickName (822545) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @05:56PM (#15046966) Journal
    You are right. There is no way to force the issue. However, I believe with majority ownership, a plan could have been put into place to give the other owners to have the right to buy at fair market value. The heirs would have received cash if Bill and company could pony up.

    I think that simply having the majority voting rights would have enabled them to get this type of rule passed, but I am not 100% positive.
  • by voss (52565) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @05:57PM (#15046968)
    Lets keep perspective before we feel too sorry for him.
  • by ScrewMaster (602015) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @05:59PM (#15046972)
    Sure he is. Rockefeller engaged in a lot of well-publicized philanthropy in an effort to polish his image too, but in the end he was still a monster, who did a lot of damage along the way. And we'll see just how much money Gates actually gives away. Odds are it won't be as much as he claims, because there will be a lot of people that will go to court to try and prevent it, and maybe in the end he won't want to anyways. Frankly, I don't believe a word that comes out of that man's mouth.
  • From TFA:

    Climb high enough in the organization, and it becomes clear that Microsoft's success has not always been based on legal or ethical behavior.

    I have to admit, we need more of these articles out there. Here in Slashdot we know all about it, so we'd get the typical captain of the obvious or "no sh*t sherlock" responses, but we need the general public to read more of them.

  • Wishful thinking (Score:5, Insightful)

    by VGR (467274) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @06:07PM (#15046995)
    From the final paragraph in the article:
    Based purely on character (or lack of it), I confidently predict that Microsoft is going down.
    Yeah, right.

    I'm about as anti-Microsoft as you can get. I hate them. I hate them for making bad software and forcing zillions of people to use it instead of letting those people make a choice. I hate them for essentially undermining the best qualities of capitalism.

    Many times I've wanted to believe "this is the end" and Microsoft is finally going to have the reputation in the general, non-techie public eye that they deserve to have. Heck, I'm still hoping the Vista debacle will be that trigger.

    But to believe that one lawyer in Iowa is going to bring them down, when the full weight of the U.S. Department of Justice couldn't do it, and the E.U. is still trying to do it, is wishful thinking. Maybe Cringely just had to end with something dramatic.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 02, 2006 @06:08PM (#15047006)
    This whole story pisses me off - its most likely that Bill was talking about buying back the shares of Microsoft. I can't conceive he would ever believe he could (or even want to) defraud the Allen estate out of their legally earned shares, but he also wouldn't have wanted whoever happened to inherit Allen's estate to have a very substantial vote on the company board. Whatever their personal disagreements, Paul Allen believed in the Microsoft vision and always supported furthering that vision - whoever inherited that stock probably wouldn't have.


    Is it an ugly conversation? Yeah. But when you're talking about people who have as large of a stake in a company as Gates and Allen had, the idea of a corporate leadership line of succession is a pretty important thing.

  • by koko775 (617640) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @06:09PM (#15047007)
    To be fair to the robber barons of the late 1800s/early 1900s, didn't many of them donate to charitable causes? Well, yes, but that doesn't mean they weren't interfering with the free market or unfairly competing due to excessive market power. The B&MG Foundation is a boon to humanity, but that doesn't mean that it counterbalances Microsoft's misdeeds. I think it's perfectly fair to call MS on their (I hesitate to use this word, as it's misused too easily) immoral alleged dealings with Paul Allen, IMO.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 02, 2006 @06:09PM (#15047008)
    However you hate Gates and/or Ballmer, this piece is nothing more than second hand hearsay. Everything is based on what Allen supposedly heard and was rapported by two assumed reliable sources. Well, if Allen hasn't come up with accusations himself, nothing is substantiated and Cringely is basically throwing mud gratuitiously. He may hide behind his sources, but eventually he's the one doing the mud job.

    Now we'll speculate as to why he would position himself this way, about how anti-establishment he implicitly is, how visionary and rightous he is about the computer industry. By stooping so low, he is only hurting himself and attributing intent to people who obviously have better things to do. Whatever, most of us already take his pieces as entertainement anyway. Doesn't mean he didn't cross a line and isn't responsible for his actions. I don't think he's important enough anymore to be noticed by the mainstream press, but his opinions are not merely disparaging, they can be attributed to plain and simple mischief. What's infuriating is not that he wrote it, it's that people will link to it and discuss it while it's not deserving of any attention. Fool me once, you can't fool me twice as the post-modern saying tells us.

  • by Surt (22457) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @06:10PM (#15047012) Homepage Journal
    Exactly how much of the wealth that you acquire by committing crimes against humanity do you have to give away before you get away with it?
  • by Bill Dimm (463823) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @06:11PM (#15047013) Homepage
    How would Balmer and Gates have "gotten them back"?

    Buy them. If you have a company with a small number of owners (Microsoft didn't IPO until 1986 [microsoft.com]), you don't want to have 36% of the voting rights suddenly go to someone that knows nothing about the company (or technology in general) -- they could wreck the place. It's pretty common for companies to have rules spelled out for handling such situations (e.g. terms for other owners to buy out) when a key person leaves/dies. Cringely seems to be making a mountain out of a molehill (and I'm not a MS fanboy).
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 02, 2006 @06:12PM (#15047017)
    like any other billionaire, bill gates donates heavily to charity for the tax benefits.
  • by ClamIAm (926466) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @06:15PM (#15047032)
    Let's exaggerate this a bit. Say some guy is responsible for the deaths of thousands of people, but through doing this he aquires great amounts of money. If he gives half of the money away, does that make him a good guy? I dunno.
  • by berj (754323) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @06:18PM (#15047043)
    If they set up the company properly this wouldn't be an issue at all. Their shareholder's agreement should have provisions to force the sale of the shares upon death and to handle things like divorce.

    As a shareholder in a small company you don't want someone's widow(er) or ex-spouse to suddenly have any amount of control/interest in your company. The shareholder's agreement would outline all of this and then the company would buy insurance policies on each of the shareholders to provide funds for the purchase.

  • by smithpg1002 (542353) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @06:26PM (#15047064)
    I know some will disagree with this, but being an owner of serveral technology companies, one of which doing classified work, ownership is something I have to worry about. If, God forbid, something does happen to one of my partners, and that ownership is given to the family, or lands in probate court for years, it has a chance of seriously hampering operations of the company. For one thing, the family is not involved in the operations, and could make incorrect decisions, or worse, sell off their ownership to anyone with the finances. Now, I do have some say in the sell of ownership, as a clause of the original agreements, and they do too, but these kinds of things really are a problem to fight. It sucks having to entertain those thoughts, but it is necessary. I think Cringley is always looking for fodder on Bill any chance he can, myself, I could care less. I use Macs as my primary machines, but have a Dell/Windows for games (if I ever have time for them) and my database sandbox is on Redhat AS 4.
  • by saleenS281 (859657) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @06:30PM (#15047075) Homepage
    that would be exactly what a capitalist society deems successful. Take a look at their stock if you doubt this.
  • Re:Guilt (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ScrewMaster (602015) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @06:31PM (#15047078)
    Well, I once heard it said that a psychopath is someone who doesn't know the difference between right and wrong, and a socipath is someone who does know ... but just doesn't care. Balmer is probably in the latter category, which puts him right up there with the rest of corporate leadership worldwide.

    Besides, you can tell a lot about a man from the caliber of his friends ... which doen't say much for either Gates or Ballmer.
  • The Gates Defence (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sedyn (880034) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @06:33PM (#15047087)
    If I shot someone yesterday, but I gave an old lady on the bus my seat today, would that make me a good person? Or would I have to give a million seats away.

    Trying to cast Bill Gates as a 21st century Robin Hood (takes from the richest and gives to the poorest) to defend the various critisms of him is suspect at best. In fact, I like calling it, the Gates defence, being a subset of the chewbaca defence.

    Giving money away, if you have enough of it, is easy. Being truely forgiven for past sins (and in this case, personal attacks), isn't. As much as your wife/gf/etc. would like a diamond ring everytime you fuck up, it doesn't cut it (unless the fuck up was buying a terrible gift, then the new one also acts as an "I'm sorry."). That and they would eventually run out of fingers. Of course, there are always gold diggers as the exception.

    In summary, you can't buy forgiveness, only earn it.
  • "gay" (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bcrowell (177657) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @06:33PM (#15047089) Homepage
    OK, mod me down as offtopic if necessary, but I'm getting really tired of seeing homophobia splattered all over my screen every time I visit the Slashdot home page. The people who run Slashdot obviously need to admit that there is a problem with the way tagging works, since "tagging" seems to be turning into "tagging" in the sense of graffiti. It was an experiment, and the experiment seems to have shown some problems. Now it's time to turn off this misfeature until they can figure out a way to keep it from making Slashdot look like a high school bathroom wall. Maybe tags need to be moderated or something.

    If the point is to get people to subscribe, well, (1) this kind of juvenilia makes me even less likely to subscribe, (2) it stinks to let people pay money and thereby get the privilege of vandalizing the site, and (3) if they want people to subscribe, they might want to do a more professional job of running the site (eliminate dupes, and get people to select science articles who actually know something about science).

  • Re:flamebate? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by /ASCII (86998) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @06:36PM (#15047097) Homepage
    That 'Flip-flops'-story seems like a real non-starter for me. Pretty much every single one of those 'changes of hearts' from Applle seem like something else to me. Some where caused by major changes to the entire computing industry (IE vs. Safari, Portables), some where caused be different people being in control of the company from one decade to another (Newton, Apple II), some where situations where Apple caved in to expecations of the outside world, but the original prediction was correct (Video iPods, Digital convergence). Reading the list of Apple 'Flip flops' tells me that Apple seems to have an excellent feel for the pulse of the IT world, and that when they've made mistakes in the past, they've usually tried to move past them.
  • YES! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sedyn (880034) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @06:41PM (#15047117)
    Yes, I'll believe that Allen is disenfranchised with the executives in ms, but there was no evidence that the stories he told was the reason Allen sold his stock and quit.

    The ambiguous line in my mind was:
    "but it didn't go over well with Paul Allen"

    Is Cringley asserting that, or is that what he heard?
  • by smartin (942) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @06:43PM (#15047123)
    Yes microsoft's success stems entirely from how well they have managed the monopoly that IBM granted them. Gates has proved to be very good at monopoly.
  • by MikeFM (12491) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @06:44PM (#15047127) Homepage Journal
    From what I've studied of Microsoft over the years I'd have to say that if Paul Allen was still the guy in charge I might not be using Linux as my primary OS today. What originally drove me away from Windows and commercial software in general was the attitude that companies had when you had problems with their product. This all stems from the attitudes of the owners of these companies and most of all Bill Gates who is largely the founder and role model of the commercial software industry.

    This bad attitude is at the center of the poor customer support, poorly designed and implemented products, and general lack of concern for what effect they're having on their customers and society at large. If Paul Allen had kept the reigns of the PC revolution the entire world could be a very different place now.

    By being so extremist in his position Bill Gates created his own worst enemy in the form of free opensource software. It was his influence that created the need for a counter-influence. Someone more centered would never have created such a strong counter-culture.

    Apple had a similar experience between Jobs and Woz though so maybe it's just something that was bound to happen.
  • by nickgrieve (87668) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @06:49PM (#15047144) Journal
    Why? What difference does it make. MS are not 'Evil'... in the way that Halliburton, Exxon, [insert Uranium/copper/diamond strip mine corp here) are evil.

    MS make software that run computers, they don't prop up Dictatorships, cause civil unrest in 3rd world countries, kill 10's of thousands of people and wash thier hands of it (looking at you Union Carbide) There a Corps out there that make Bill and his friends look like saints, and people already know this, but... THEY JUST DON'T CARE... if they don't care about the real Evil Corporations they won't care about MS... they will just shrug, stuff their face with burgers and get back to the Xbox...
  • by Wudbaer (48473) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @06:49PM (#15047147) Homepage
    If you call selling not-so-optimal software and illegal monopolistic practices crimes against humanity you maybe should read up about real crimes against humanity like the holocaust, the numerous genocides like in Ruanda, in the Balkans or in Cambodia under the Khmer Rouges. Crimes against humanity, my ass. Guys like you really should get out more.
  • Mod Parent DOWN (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Quantam (870027) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @07:04PM (#15047201) Homepage
    How ignorant (or perhaps downright legally retarded) do you have to be to consider questionable business tactics on par with the holocaust, Cultural Revolution, the gulags, etc.? I'm not sure what's more disturbing: that one person was dumb enough to actually say it, or that a number of people agree with it. Not making a good show of intellect for Slashdot here, guys.
  • by BerntB (584621) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @07:11PM (#15047226)
    Well, personally I'd agree that Microsoft's criminal business practices more are theft than crimes against humanity, according to the accepted legal term.

    Yes, Microsoft hasn't participated in mass murders or normal atrocities against civilians -- but have literally lowered the quality of life for many people. With more competition, there would have been more alternatives and faster evolution in the software jungle. That would mean a better life for me and many others. (I guess we should be happy Gates didn't go into politics...)

    If you want to argue against that, you are arguing for the advantage of centrally planned systems and against competition; the economists seem to have finished that argument.

    On the other hand. the economists might argue that many (if far from all) of the people suffering are computer people -- and hence it might be considered a Good Thing... :-)

  • by Skreems (598317) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @07:14PM (#15047235) Homepage
    While I agree entirely with your criticism of the software industry, I don't think Bill Gates or even Microsoft as a whole are to blame. The consumers pick the level of quality in their products by what they purchase. Six or eight years ago, Mac OS 8.5 was clearly superior to Windows. The desktop was more intuitive, more responsive, crashed less, and had far fewer security problems. The main difference was the price. Today, Linux is faster than Windows, more secure, and can even run most of the same applications. But, it costs more (if you buy a for-pay distro like SuSE or Fedora), and it takes an investment of time to learn to transition from a Windows installation. There are systems out there with better software and better support than Windows, but you have to pay more for them; and that's something the average consumer just won't do. Everyone seems to want software to be completely stable, idiot proof in its simplicity, and also very cheap. You won't get all three of those out of software of any type.
  • by larry bagina (561269) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @07:21PM (#15047256) Journal
    Or they could have had multiple classes of stock. Like Google. Where Larry and Sergey and other insiders have special stock which gets 10x votes.
  • by craXORjack (726120) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @07:34PM (#15047304)
    Microsoft's success has not always been based on legal or ethical behavior. The company is, after all, a convicted monopolist, and the exercise of those monopoly powers wasn't just through a Gates or a Ballmer, but also through dozens of top managers, at least some of whom had to have known that what they were doing was wrong.

    I just want to point out to anyone who wasn't following the (pre-2001) anti-trust suit that it is not a crime to have a monopoly. It is perfectly legal and what all companies aim for. What Microsoft got in trouble for (before the Bush administration basically dropped it) was that they were using their monopoly power to limit competition and leverage their way into new monopolies, i.e. Windows-->Office, Windows-->Browser, Windows-->Internet Provider...

  • by muikano (934232) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @07:50PM (#15047341)
    how much is Microsoft paying you?

    Jesus christi. God knows, Microsoft is just as money hungry as other companies(Apple) but god knows they've abused their power.

    Cringeley is a pulpit. He works on speculation. That's what he does. No one is treating his shit like gospel. No one is saying he's got solid proof. The facts he does have is True though. And his train of thought has a line of reasoning so it's not like it's 100% bullcock.

    Paul Allen IS trying to get rid of his microsoft stock. If not, he's doing a really good pretending to. Pessimism doesnt mean Microsoft will fail. Only the Vista/Office Launch will decide that. The more delays the more time for competing office/OS products to launch and root into mainstream.

    Hell, it's super hard to kill monopolies. Only technology can disrupt technology. But doesnt mean that Cringely doesnt have a point.
  • by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @07:53PM (#15047351)
    Cringely is basically throwing mud gratuitiously. He may hide behind his sources, but eventually he's the one doing the mud job.

    To Mud, or not To Mud, that is the Question?

    Is Cringley throwing mud?

    Or is Cringley reporting corroborated facts?

    Or is reporting facts equivalent to throwing mud when the facts are ugly.

    I don't know.

    You don't know.

    But I'm not the one concluding that because the purported facts are ugly that they are automatically equated with Mud.

    Given Bill Gates access to lawyers, and Cringley's relative poverty and valuable reputation, I'd say RXC is certainly erring on the side of caution and has good reason to have said what he has said. Bill Gates, and Paul Allen who is also party to this, may not be as litigious as, say, Tom Cruise, but who wants to find out first?

  • Re:flamebate? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Alien Being (18488) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @07:58PM (#15047372)
    Where Bill Gates is concerned, almost nothing is flamebate. He has chosen to live by the sword, he deserves to die by it.
  • by Mistshadow2k4 (748958) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @07:58PM (#15047373) Journal

    "The consumers pick the level of quality in their products by what they purchase."

    I must disagree here. Patents and copyrights are the real controlling factors. You can't make a true clone of Photoshop and open-source it, can you? The Gimp is as close as you can get to a PS clone to my knowledge and it's far from being a true PS clone, simply because they can't make one, let alone anything that's actually better.

    Marketing is another important factor - where would we be now if Windows hadn't been marketed as aggressively as it is and MS hadn't employed the monopolistic, cutthroat practices they're infamous for? Other OSes that are gone now might still exist and be in development. You can say that the consumers support them in this, but that's not really true. What do the consumers have to do with the "MS tax" on new computers? Nothing, that's Microsoft's doing. What do consumers have to do with the fact that all big-name pre-made computers you can buy come with the latest version of Windows only (besides Macs, of course)? That's Microsft keeping the options as limited as possible.

    Everyone I know would love a higher level of quality in Windows, but what can they actually do about it? The only option is to switch to another OS which might not support their hardware, not to mention their favorite games and applications. So what can they do make Microsoft produce a higher-quality version of Windows? Nothing, with MS it's take or leave it, and they do their best to prevent you from having other choices as it is.

  • by FlyGirl (11285) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @08:30PM (#15047473)
    To be fair with Bill Gates, Microsoft's success has much more to do with him than Paul Allen!
    Why should we worry about being fair to Bill? Does it seem like HE'S been fair to anyone else?
  • by xtieburn (906792) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @08:46PM (#15047520)
    This is such trash.

    I mean other than the fact that the article is information from a friend of a friend whos like really really good friends with the friend of Paul Allen but it also sounds suspiciously made up.

    Ahh hes sold shares that must mean he hates Microsoft. Nooo Bill Gates has also sold shares a hell of a lot of them. His total stake in Microsoft was less than 10% in 2005 thats been dropping for a long time and hes still selling. Doesnt mean he despises his company now does it.

    What about the punishing work while ill? Maybe he actually got Hodgkins in 1982 but he was diagnosed in 1983 DOS 2.0 came out in March doesnt exactly leave a huge amount of time for his aparent slave labour and his heroic completion of the O/S.

    Oh but he left the company forever, he must have had a bad experience at the hands of evil Bill. Not quite. He is still an advisor to MS to this day. Now sure that isnt exactly a large role in the company he created but how many people with billions of dollars would stay in any position at a company that, according to this site, drove you near to death and conspired to destroy you when you were there?

    I mean his leaving couldnt possibly have had anything to do with the fact that he had to work really hard before, but was now a rich man recovering from a life threatening disease. Yeah I can imagine he was raring to jump back in to long shifts at MS, but theres no chance of that with evil Bill standing guard.

    Finally, the oh so familiar, Microsoft is going down, comment. Take a quick look at just about every article that guy has ever written involving Microsoft. Nearly all of them contain some way of Microsoft going down. Nearly all of them are speculatory trash often including a list of 'funny' scenarios.

    This is pure flamebait from someone clearly biassed against the company. I mean trying to get me to feel sympathy for the 6th richest man in the world who has spent a large portion of his entire life living off the company this site claims crushed him...

    Oh and unlike his hearsay you can do a quick search in Google and youll find information backing up every point I made. (Some of which actually came from the site he used to support him, forbes.)
  • Character issue (Score:3, Insightful)

    by HangingChad (677530) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @08:59PM (#15047560) Homepage
    Gates and Steve Ballmer discussing how to get Allen's Microsoft stock back if the Hodgkins disease Allen was battling killed him. Yikes.

    I think that pretty well reflects MSFT's corporate character. Petty, greedy, and paranoid.

  • by ScrewMaster (602015) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @08:59PM (#15047562)
    Spare me. He's done a hell of a lot less than the people who do nothing but idolize him here on Slashdot, not that there are many of those. And why is that? Because the people (like me) who have been around since the beginning of the Personal Computing revolution, who made their livelihoods from it all those years, have seen firsthand the destruction Gates and his creation have wrought. Sadly, thousands of companies, products, ideas and careers have been the cost of Bill Gates' phenomenal success. In much the same way as Wal-Mart foists the cost of employees' health care upon society, so have Bill Gates and Microsoft taken from all of us and given little in return. When you get right down to it, when you think where computing might be today were it not for Microsoft, you quickly realize that they just aren't worth it.

    I simply don't accept that the good he is doing in other parts of the world in any way compensates for the crimes he has committed here at home. For crimes they were ... they had their day in court and were adjudged guilty. And who cares how much time he has to invest? That is a semantically void argument. I invest huge amounts of time into what I do for a living as well, but sure as Hell's a mantrap I'd never expect to be excused from wrongdoing because I work hard, especially if (like Bill Gates) I work hard at wrongdoing. And make no mistake: it is about the money with such people, it has always been about the money and always will be about the money. Otherwise I'd say he should put his money where his mouth is and give away the bulk of his fortune now, if it's so unimportant to him. But the entire population of Redmond would be overtaken by spontaneous human combustion before that would happen.
  • by nacturation (646836) <nacturation&gmail,com> on Sunday April 02, 2006 @09:06PM (#15047585) Journal
    Not that I like Bill or his business tactics, but to be fair to him, isn't it true that the B&MG Foundation has donated a few billion dollars to worthy causes?

    No, that's not true. Because of Microsoft's business practices, that money belongs to you, your family, friends, and neighbors. It's your misappropriated money which is going to good causes. Every time somebody buys a bare-bones PC without an operating system yet still pays for Windows it is, in part, that person's money which is getting funneled into the B&MG Foundation.
     
  • Re:flamebate? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by JettaHominus (965601) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @09:29PM (#15047643) Homepage
    Paul Allen should thank whatever Gods he believes in that he ever met Bill Gates in the first place. That guy would not be 1/10000th as rich as he is today if it weren't for Gates.
  • by KarmaMB84 (743001) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @09:33PM (#15047654)
    No, basically the guy probably made them rich and they STILL schemed to rob his estate of what little they left for him.
  • by Moofie (22272) <lee@ringofsaturn. c o m> on Sunday April 02, 2006 @09:57PM (#15047705) Homepage
    And here I thought capitalism was an economic system. Silly me! It must be the defining term of my society. My bad.
  • by Dryth (544014) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @11:49PM (#15048007)
    Another voice of agreement for lack of mod points.

    For anecdote's sake, this is similar to what caused my grandfather's decades-old business to go down the toilet. When his business partner died, enough control was left in the hands of the former-partner's family to effectively castrate the company. Their collective interest was in killing off the company so they could sell off its assets, and eventually they managed to do exactly that.

    It really sucks to have to think in terms of looting the dead, but occasionally it's a simple matter of being prudent. And it's not just a concern with businesses: Everyone wants a piece of you when you die.
  • by dido (9125) <dido@@@imperium...ph> on Monday April 03, 2006 @12:28AM (#15048125)

    To be more precise, Gates added fuel to the fire that made Open Source / Free Software the force to be reckoned with. Many years before Microsoft became an important force in the world of computing, Richard Stallman at the MIT AI lab experienced that now famous spat with proprietary printer software [gnu.org] from Xerox, which is similar to your own experiences with Microsoft software, that eventually led to the creation of the GNU Project. Gates basically, with his heavy handed attitude, made this an issue that affected everyone.

  • by xmodem_and_rommon (884879) on Monday April 03, 2006 @12:30AM (#15048132)
    I am going to examine each of these points one at a time. Some of them just make me cringe.

    Disclaimer: I was a PC user up until a couple of months ago, when I got a powerbook. I've barely used another computer since.

    10. Apple II Forever: The 1984 introduction of the compact Apple IIc, at a boisterous celebration in San Francisco's Moscone Center, is interrupted by a magnitude 6.2 earthquake. The party, called "Apple II Forever," doesn't miss a beat because loyal Apple II users are already shaken up by their belief the company is focusing too much on the Macintosh, even though the Apple II is generating the bulk of sales and profit.

    Unfortunately, nothing is forever, not even the Apple II -- although it comes close. On Nov. 15, 1993, more than 16 years after it was introduced, and with over 5 million units shipped, Apple quietly drops the last of the line, the Apple IIe. As a gesture to the faithful, Apple continues offering Apple II technology through an expansion card for some early Mac LC and Performa models.



    What type of computer
    sells well
    for 8 YEARS?

    I mean, seriously, am I the only one that thinks that's one hell of a long time for them to be selling what's essentially the same computer? It most likely got too expensive for them to keep selling it, and they dropped it.

    9. Portable predictions: Apple chief Steve Jobs is lauded for his forward thinking, but he misses the boat on notebook computers. "(Smaller portables) are OK if you're a reporter and trying to take notes on the run," he tells Playboy magazine in February 1985. "But for the average person, they're really not that useful, and there's not all that much software for them, either."

    He eventually changes his tune but Apple's first stab at a laptop, a 15.8-pound behemoth dubbed the Macintosh Portable, isn't much to write home about. Apple finally gets it right in 1991 when it introduces the truly portable PowerBook. Despite the PowerBook's popularity, a dozen years pass before Jobs declares 2003 "the year of the notebook" for Apple. "Many users are going to wonder why they even need a desktop computer anymore," he says then.


    I'm not that old, and I can't really remember 1985, so I can't say for certain. But I gather from his quote that all the "portables" in that day resembled somewhat different hardware and software configurations to their desktop equivalants. I doubt that the macintosh in that form could be minaturized to a "portable" in 1985, either.

    By the 1990s, there were companies selling laptops with 68k processors, that, with the addition of a ROM chip ripped from a mac, could run Mac OS. This arrangement was, obviously, very expensive for anyone who wanted an apple laptop, yet these clones were still selling. Did apple really have a choice about it?

    8. Consumers cool to Cube: Never one to shy away from hyperbole, Jobs pronounces the G4 Cube as "simply the coolest computer ever" at Macworld New York in 2000. Apple gushes over its latest creation: "An entirely new class of computer, it marries the Pentium-crushing performance of the Power Mac G4 with the miniaturization, silent operation and elegant desktop design of the iMac. It is an amazing engineering and design feat, and we're thrilled to finally unveil it to our customers."

    It doesn't turn out to be all that cool. Although praised for Jonathan Ive's innovative industrial design, the Cube fails to catch on with creative professionals because it's too expensive ($1,800), not powerful enough (450 MHz) and hard to upgrade. The Cube is put on ice in July 2001.


    The cube was cool. Admit it. It had problems. I can admit that. It wasn't selling, so it was cancelled.

    I will take a break at this point to point out that two of these three are nothing other than apple discontinuing products because they weren't selling. Yeah, shocking, isn't it.

    What's next? Oooh, a real one.

    7. Death to CRTs: Introducing the flat-panel iMac at Macworld San Francisc
  • Re:flamebate? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by slashkitty (21637) on Monday April 03, 2006 @01:01AM (#15048207) Homepage
    Exactly.. Do you live better with $100 Billion while still working at microsoft, or with $14 Billion being retired? For that matter, Does anything over a few hundred million do much for you?
  • by Tom (822) on Monday April 03, 2006 @01:22AM (#15048271) Homepage Journal
    Yes, he's giving away lot.

    However, study some business economics and have your ears wide open when the topic is "monopoly profits". The thing about them is that the profit of the monopoly is much, much lower than the damage it causes to the general public. For every $ that Bill has made, he's done 2, 3, maybe 5 $ worth of damage to the public.

    In other words: Yes, he gives a billion or two away. That is a) our money and b) we'd have several times that if it weren't for him. Which leads to c) in a fair market, without a monopoly, the total sum profit of all participants would be much higher, and if even half of them would give as much of their share as Bill does, then the total given would be more.

    He's still a robber baron. And his donations are probably just a way to a) wash his image clean and b) get tax breaks.
  • Re:flamebate? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Phroggy (441) * <slashdot3@[ ]oggy.com ['phr' in gap]> on Monday April 03, 2006 @02:17AM (#15048379) Homepage
    Also don't forget that IE for Mac is nothing like IE for Windows; IE for Mac was one of the most standards-compliant browsers available on any platform at the time.
  • Re:flamebate? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 03, 2006 @03:15AM (#15048531)
    That goes both ways. Gates was the financial genius, Allen was the technical. Look at the crap that Windows has become. Windows always was gates' project, back when Allen still had some say in the company, they were working to replace DOS with Xenix, which was Microsofts version of unix.

    While Gates is often claimed to be a technical genius because he wrote a basic interpreter for some obscure hardware without ever seeing the machine, he could only do so because Allen wrote a program to emulate said machine without ever seeing it.

    If Allen had been able to keep Gates and Ballmer in check, Microsoft products would probably be a higher quality, something that people would like to use. Instead you have people dedicating their spare time to write a completely free OS, and those still using Windows complaining about how bad it is (even though they still can't be convinced to try something else).
  • Re:Guilt (Score:3, Insightful)

    by 16K Ram Pack (690082) <tim.almond@g[ ]l.com ['mai' in gap]> on Monday April 03, 2006 @05:48AM (#15048809) Homepage
    My question is often this: Why does Bill Gates carry on doing what he's doing? Especially as he continually states that he's going to give it all away before he dies.

    Maybe it's just me, but I partly do the work I do because I enjoy it, but also because it pays the bills. If the bills disappeared, I would make different choices in my work.

    I don't even think that Microsoft have the "purpose" of companies like Google. At least when those companies release something, you can sense the excitement, that the Google guys are into making what they make as good as possible.

    I don't know why Bill bothers doing what he does any more. There's little exciting coming out of Microsoft, just lots of "me too" products. I personally wouldn't bother doing it if I had Bill's fortune. I'd be either just enjoying myself, or trying to make a difference.

  • Re:Perspective (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Bert64 (520050) <bert@noSPAM.slashdot.firenzee.com> on Monday April 03, 2006 @07:30AM (#15048951) Homepage
    Almost all rich people run a charity or two, and they're not running them for the good of others.

    Donating money to charity is a good way to buy good publicity, and you get a good tax writeoff on money you donate. There are also a thousand and one other scams people can pull, like charging their expenses back to their charitable foundation.

    Also large corporations donate their own products (microsoft is especially guilty of this) and claim tax breaks based on the retail prices of those products. In the case of software, the production cost is minimal, and in any other industry it will still cost the company less to produce than the retail cost, just that the margins are much higher with software.

    Donating of products serves as self-promotion, increasing brand awareness and market share, while costing the company significantly less than they claim to have donated.
  • by drsmithy (35869) <drsmithy&gmail,com> on Monday April 03, 2006 @09:58PM (#15054965)
    Of course there are other, less well-known tricks to getting around with alt-tab switching, but that means using the keyboard as well as the mouse.

    Something that is almost universally faster...

    As I use the mouse in the left hand, that means a clumsy grip. Or the same issue of seconds lost.

    ...Unless of course you're a lefty. Bugger.

    Personally, in your position, I'd train myself to use the mouse right-handed. Basically all keyboard+mouse acceleration shortcuts are designed under the assumption the user is right handed. IMHO the payoff is more than worth the month or two of clumsiness.

    Then again, I'm basically ambidextrous, so I might be understating the difficulty.

    I think you also misunderstood the meaning of "the window is the program".

    No, the problem is you are trying to describe the Windows interface based around the terminology and expectations of the application-centric MacOS interface.

    The Windows UI is designed around being "document centric". That is, the user isn't supposed to even think about what an application is, they're just supposed to operate on "documents" (or in the case where that isn't a logical entity, "windows"). That's the place where all these things like OLE, COM, browser integration and the like have come from - the objective of making the use of "applications" completely transparent to the user. Apple had similar plans back in the mid 90s with OpenDoc, but nothing ever really came of it.

    In Windows, you're not supposed to think "I'll open Word to edit that file", you're supposed to think "I want to edit that file" and then operate on the *file*. You're not supposed to use the application to get to the file. That's why that little "New" submenu fills up with things like "Word Document", "Winrar archive" and the like. That's how you're *supposed* to be creating new "documents", not by starting up an application, typing away, then saving as a new file.

    (This is a further development (and in several ways an inferior one) of the theory behind OS/2's Workplace Shell - it should be immediately recognisable to any ex-OS/2ers. It was also a dramatic change from the application-centric Windows 3.1 - although since you could use Windows 95 basically in the same way as Windows 3.1, very few people ever noticed - or took advantage of - this paradigm shift.)

    In this model, having an application "open" without a corresponding "document" is simply nonsensical - without the "document" there is no need for the application to be started (or even a point to having it running).

    A bit of history: the reason MacOS works the way it does - application-centric - is because it was originally designed to run on machines with only floppy drives, where starting an application was a *very* expensive exercise (and might even entail swapping disks). So, leaving applications running even when no documents were open, was a reasonable design choice. Windows, OTOH, has only really been around on machines with hard disks, where starting an application is cheap, but where memory is relatively scarce. Thus, leaving the application running was a waste of RAM, and closing/reopening it the better choice from an efficiency perspective.

    It is rather interesting to see these fundamental differences between the two UIs are basically because of the platforms they were originally designed for 20+ years ago. Kind of like the urban myth about how the size of the space shuttle boosters is depdendant on the width of a horse's arse.

    The other solution is the one I mentioned earlier, the "window in a window" solution.

    You are describing MDI, which uses the same principles as things like tabbed browsers. It makes sense for some uses but not others (most notably, it's very bad for moving information between child windows - ie: drag & drop to documents). It's a holdover from the Windows 3.x days and really shouldn't be being used since the release of Windows 95, at least not in the general case (things like tabbed browsers are an exception IMHO).

    (Yes, I know some developers still do. Yes, I know Microsoft still do sometimes. The point is that they *shouldn't*, and they're breaking the Windows UI guidelines by doing so.)

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