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Gates Steps Down As CEO, Ballmer In 575

migooch was the first of many people to write with news that Bill Gates has stepped down as CEO of Microsoft. Steve Balmer, who replaced him as President, will be CEO. Gates will become "Chief Software Architect", and will remain as Chairman. Update: 01/13 10:27 by E : The official Microsoft press release is here.Alright - Salon's Top 10 reasons Bill Gates stepped down is pretty funny as well. What do you think are the Top 10?
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Gates Steps Down As CEO, Balmer In

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  • by Greyfox ( 87712 ) on Thursday January 13, 2000 @01:17PM (#1374721) Homepage Journal
    What are they up to? Maybe Gates is positioning himself so that if the DOJ breaks up MS, he can jump ship to the most profitable baby-MS, leaving Ballmer holding the bag with a less viable one?

    Truly, we live in interesting times.

  • by Frac ( 27516 ) on Thursday January 13, 2000 @01:18PM (#1374723)
    Gates will remain as chairman, and Steve Balmer, who has earlier replaced Gates as president, will continue to be president and CEO.
  • I hope MSNBC keeps that photo up for the story. It looks like Gates is yawning and Steve is on drugs or something... they both look pretty bad...

    Hey, does anyone else think Steve looks anything like Drew's brother from The Drew Carey Show? I think it would be funny to see him in a dress, wig, and heels... :)
  • by Aggrazel ( 13616 ) <> on Thursday January 13, 2000 @01:19PM (#1374728) Journal
    And he's bald and EVIL looking! Perfect for a CEO of microsoft.

  • I can't decide - is this a good or bad thing? I mean, Bill G. was never THAT great of a software designer in the first place. Why not just consider retirement instead? What's worse - Bill running the entire company, and other's doing the job of design, or, Balmer running the company, and Bill getting his grubbies on to designing the overall systems concepts?

    Plus, didn't he used to say that he could never see anyone above the age of 50 at the helm of MS? I thought Balmer was older than that 'limit'.

  • by palutke ( 58340 ) on Thursday January 13, 2000 @01:20PM (#1374733)
    Until Bill sells his shares, he's still calling the shots. He may not be making day-to-day administrative decisions, but I'm sure all important policy decisions have to pass his approval before being implimented.
  • Not me. It doesn't change anything - Gates just puts a memo on Ballmer's desk to sign for legal matters, before he does it anyways. Gates is still for all intents and purposes in charge of the company, since you know Ballmer won't contradict him. (Unless it'll prevent a breakup.)

    More likely, this lets Gates be not quite as uberscrewed by the impending breakup (is anyone else moaning?), just partly screwed.
  • by Silicon_Knight ( 66140 ) on Thursday January 13, 2000 @01:20PM (#1374737)
    Well, now, hardly a better canidate for that post; after all, he did write that blue and white screensaver thingee that now runs on 90% of the PCs out there... 8-)

    -=- SiKnight

  • This really shouldn't be all that suprising. Over the past couple years bill has been taking less and less control of MS and letting steve to the work.

    I think the real thing to watch for is if Steve B. tries to pull a "Steve Jobs"(tm) on Gates.

    In the end not a whole lot will change. The ego and aditude is about the same. Steve is better spoken and doesn't have that child molester look that Gates has.
  • Coming soon: miniBallmer! ("You complete me.")
  • by Fats ( 14870 ) on Thursday January 13, 2000 @01:23PM (#1374745)
    Wanted: Borg picture of Steve Balmer.

  • If Bill Gates retired outright, with no warning, Microsoft stock would sink like a rock, hurting his own fortune, most of which still exists as Microsoft stock. This is not because Microsoft is any less viable without him, but the day trading lemmings would all jump off the cliff. (Microsoft == Bill Gates) in the minds of many people for better or worse.
  • ...would we see Gill Gates and Mike Shaver changing jobs *both* being reported on the front page.

    I think that's great :)

  • I've always wondered what Ballmer did to get such high positions at Microsoft - from what I saw in Pirates of Silicon Valley, he just happened to be with Gates and Allen in the right place at the right time. Does he have any real CEO credentials - training, experience outside of Microsoft, or otherwise?

    And the ineveitable question - Does it run Lin-- whoops, answered my own question =)
  • bill has finally seen the light: having a Steve - even a Ballmer will do - as CEO is the best thing for a company.

    a Steve, as in a Woz or a Jobs, is just a more portentous name in computing than a Bill.
  • Not so he can jump ship. He can now remain much more influencial over the Baby Bills by hand picking the CEOs of each division. The man has no navel, but he is a brilliant businessman. Also, I think the implications of his new title, Chief Software Architect, may be that he will be able to keep everything more tightly intertwined than the DOJ breakup would otherwise have allowed for.

    Or maybe not. My understanding of all that may no be so great.
  • by Uri ( 51845 ) on Thursday January 13, 2000 @01:28PM (#1374766)
    ...can be found [] on the Microsoft site [].
  • by kcarnold ( 99900 ) on Thursday January 13, 2000 @01:28PM (#1374767)
    Click Here []
  • In haiku:

    Now Bill Gates resigned
    so he can CEO for
    Babe-Bills tomorrow
  • by __aapbgd5977 ( 124658 ) on Thursday January 13, 2000 @01:29PM (#1374770)
    What are they up to? Maybe Gates is positioning himself so that if the DOJ breaks up MS, he can jump ship to the most profitable baby-MS, leaving Ballmer holding the bag with a less viable one?

    That really has to be the underlying theme. This press conference had almost no lead time, and the annoucement was so suspicious that the AP Wire put it up on the top of the important annoucements. The implication from the resignation is that the negotiations with DOJ over the breakup are not going well.

    Of course Gates and Ballmer will trumpet that they have done nothing wrong, and that the breakup would be horribly bad. But this is kinda like bankruptcy planning - if you see doom on the horizon, there is nothing illegal about getting your money put away (in certain ways - other ways are called 'fraud' {g}). I think Bill is just aiming to be sitting in the right chair when the music stops.

    Of course, he has been Microsoft CEO for nearly 25 years, and he has a huge image problem. Maybe the conspiracy theory *is* garbage, and he just wants to do something else. That wouldn't be the first time that happened in the software industry.

    "This is the nineties. You don't just go around punching people. You have to say something cool first."

  • What happened to the previous Chief Software Architect? Was he assimilated?
  • Another of the top stories on MSNBC right now is about how the DOJ is finalizing a plan to break MS into three companies.

    here [] is the link. Interesting that this was posted almost simultaneously as the Gates/Ballmer one....

  • Does this now mean that Ballmer has the power to give Mr Gates his notice ?
  • by Anonynous Coward ( 127724 ) on Thursday January 13, 2000 @01:33PM (#1374781)
    All of you giggling and postulating about Bill Gates being wary of a Microsoft breakup should be aware that he may be laughing all the way to the bank in the near future.

    The government might split Microsoft into 3 (or so) entities, but it can't strip Bill Gates of what will be his large ownership in all 3 companies. And will breaking Microsoft up instantly produce a viable competitor for Windows? Office? Internet Explorer? (Note: I'm not talking technical merit, I'm talking end-users BUYING what they know).

    Very likely all three companies will do really well, just inflating Bill Gates' personal fortune into even more stratospheric heights. It happened to Rockerfeller when the government split up Standard Oil, don't be surprised to see it happen again.

  • Think about it... he can't just up and quit. He is the epitome of M$... if he did that, the stock would plummet. (and he couldn't cash out)

    If he takes baby-steps away from the helm... and out of the lime-light... then he can safely cash out his stock, and retire...

    It's a rough game in life when you use money to keep score... 'cause you don't want to give up any points...
  • by Shoeboy ( 16224 ) on Thursday January 13, 2000 @01:37PM (#1374791) Homepage
    I'm on an MS campus right now, and it's an odd hearing about this from /.

    It's easy to understand why bill stepped down if you've played sim city. Once the city gets to a certain size, the effort required to run it begins to outweigh the fun of making it bigger.

    Running MS has probably been similar. I bet it was fun launching windows 1.0. Likewise it was no doubt a blast watching OS2 nose dive while windows picked up speed. And the success of MS's internet strategy after nearly missing the boat completely had to have been thrilling.

    What next? 10 years of slow, expensive court appeals? That's not fun - that's like trying to build enough police stations to handle the population of your 700 arcologies.

    There comes a point in sim city where you either quit or click on the disasters menu and select all of them. I'm glad bill decided to step back instead of building a flying robotic monster and having it lay waste to the campus -- that's what I would have done.

    I'm not a microsoft employee, and I'm certainly not speaking for them.
  • Yup, technically Ballmer could axe Gates for his sloppy coding style. But remember Bill still owns almost 20% of Microsoft.

    In some ways, this is an insurance policy. If they split up the company, Bill is no longer CEO and can just get shares in each company and control it through himself and his buds shares.

  • by Hrunting ( 2191 ) on Thursday January 13, 2000 @01:37PM (#1374793) Homepage
    1. Is it just me, or does Steve Ballmer look like Mr. Burns of The Simpsons fame?
    2. Does that scare anyone else?
  • Here's the article [] from
  • Somehow I'm reminded of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge collapse [] when I hear that Bill Gates will be the chief software architect. Clearly he's had his fun, and now that the DOJ is going to rain on his parade, he's taking his ball and going home (just to mix a few metaphors). I can't help but wonder what Bill Gates II will do when the stock collapses, since what he does now is tend the Gates Foundation, which is likely to see a nosedive or two.
  • by FWMiller ( 9925 ) on Thursday January 13, 2000 @01:42PM (#1374807) Homepage
    So cynical are you. And your cynicism fits well with the prevailing winds on this site. I wonder if it occured to anyone that he may actually want to do exactly what he says he wants to do. When you've got that much money already, I doubt that increasing your nestegg is a major driver. Its more about what gets you out of bed in the morning. For Gates, it appears that that has always been building software, for better or worse...
  • I'm a little fuzzy on what the various corporate officials actually do. (I've spent too much time in academe, I suppose). Can someone in the know explain the difference between the president, CEO, and chairman of the board? Which one is really in charge of the company? Basically, what responsibilities is Gates actually shucking off in this move?


  • by Blindman ( 36862 ) on Thursday January 13, 2000 @01:43PM (#1374809) Journal
    "Steve's promotion will allow me to dedicate myself full time to my passion -- building great software..."

    If only Bill had realized the problem years ago, we might have great software today.
  • by Smack ( 977 ) on Thursday January 13, 2000 @01:44PM (#1374811) Homepage
    Interesting... Slate is owned by Microsoft. Slate posted an article this morning titled "What's the Difference Between CEO's and Chairmen?". Coincidence??? :)

    The article is actually rather interesting for those who don't know the answer. Anyway, here's a link:

    http: // 1/12/00&idMessage=4361 []

  • johnos said Lenin has left the building Stalin has arrived

    Not true. Lenin is in Seattle, in the center of the Fremont neighbourhood just two blocks from my house. It's a large iron statue, kind of hard to miss, albeit not as well-known as the Fremont Troll.

    And Bill is more of a Rasputin character in his own way ... Ballmer more of a Yeltsin soon to fade after the breakup, offered as a sacrificial lamb unto the Y2K gods.
  • by belgin ( 111046 ) on Thursday January 13, 2000 @01:44PM (#1374815) Homepage
    Maybe Gates is positioning himself so that if the DOJ breaks up MS, he can jump ship to the most profitable baby-MS, leaving Ballmer holding the bag with a less viable one?

    While that is a possibility, I don't think it matters whether Bill is Chairman and CEO, or just Chairman. He'd still get first choice. There is no way that any serious individual thinks he will come out of the DOJ trial crippled in any truly signifigant way. Bill is a very clever fellow and he would end up in the best remaining position no matter what. He could always BUY a smaller compay and start over, if he wanted.

    The tongue in cheek answer is that someone gave him a perfectly functioning version of Windows 2000 that will run any software it is supposed to. He has only weeks to break it and make sure that 1) no competing products work and 2) it looks like it is their fault.

    Finally we have something more realistic: Gates is a celebrity. He knows that he is one and has a lot of stuff that he has to do as a CEO. He either wants to give the impression, or actually does want to get back into the trenches to some degree and work with the developers. If you acutally talk to some Microsoft developers, many of them will tell you about how he goes through their offices every so often and talks to them, sometimes motivating more than anything else they can think of and sometimes just chewing them out. (I interviewed with MS folks at Redmond before, just for fun.) Bill has to be under an incredible amount of stress from the trial, too. He may want to give up the reins a bit, but doesn't trust anyone else absolutely, so he remains chairman. As Chief Developer, he can pick any project as his pet and work with it, or step back and look at all of them. He has pretty much said: this CEO thing is too defined for me, so I am making up a title, retaining the real power of veto, and doing what I want.

    B. Elgin

  • The CEO is always the one named in press releases, so this just seems to be a way for Gates to get out of the spotlight some. As for setting himself up to lead a Baby Bill, well that would have happened anyway. It doesn't matter what title he has, you know Gates will find a way to end up in what he sees as the most profitable position after the breakup (which I don't see how a breakup will hurt the monopoly, but that's just me).

    If I was Ballmer, I sure wouldn't want to be in the CEO spot when everything hits anyway. It's always a slim possibility that something might happen, and he becomes...ahem...dispensable as many CEOs seem to be in the tech world. Gates did a smart thing getting himself out of the hot seat, and probably he sold it real well to Ballmer

    "Hey look, Steve, you can have the celebrity and spotlight. It's all good, and I promise you'll have a good spot after the breakup...what? No, I wasn't laughing under my breath. You must be hearing things."

  • I don't know what to think of this, but my gut feelings are as follows:

    1) Gates has been MS President since Linus was 4 years old, and perhaps its time to move on.
    2) He's becoming chief software architect - i was not aware he knew how to code.
    3) Is he, perhaps, up to something as this is right on the heels of the latest noises from the monopoly trial...

    And it also reminds me; who is slated to take over for (knock on wood) Linus, if something happens to him? The worst thing that could happen to the linux community would be to run around like a headless chicken.

    Just my $0.02 (add GST if in Canada)
    #include <signal.h> \ #include <stdlib.h> \ int main(void){signal(ABRT,SIGIGN);while(1){abort(-1); }return(0);}
  • What exactly does the title CEO actually mean anyway?

    To understand my point, consider id Software. Todd Hollensomething is CEO, but John Carmack is in charge, AFAIK.

    Bill Gates will always be in charge, but he may have less paperwork to do. This just changes the names around a bit....

  • by moonboy ( 2512 ) on Thursday January 13, 2000 @01:48PM (#1374824) Homepage
    I believe the CEO is actually the "manager" of the entire company and the Chairman is the head of the Board of Directors of the Corporation. I'm not sure, but I think the board decides the direction of the company and the CEO decides and maps out how it will get there. Somebody feel free to correct if I'm wrong.


    "Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds." - Albert Einstein
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 13, 2000 @01:49PM (#1374827)
    Am I the only one who found it amusing that this article immediately followed one entitled "Monkey Cloning. Sort Of."?

    I guess the sort of means they failed badly . . . .

  • One of the antitrust lawyers, in the special /. article a few days after the ruling last fall, said that in a forced breakup, each principal can work and hold stock in only one of the resulting subentities (in this case, Baby Bills). Otherwise, there'd be no incentive to change anything. It would be scrutinized by the court, so a 'consultant' arrangement probably would not fly.
  • by WillAffleck ( 42386 ) on Thursday January 13, 2000 @01:51PM (#1374831)
    President is the president, tends to set policy, and is a corporate signing authority for legal matters. Incorporation normally has a president, a treasurer, and a secretary required to sign and affirm certain documents.

    CEO is Chief Executive Officer. Tends to run the company. The big cheese.

    Chairman of the board runs the meetings of the Board of Directors, which can hire and fire the President and the CEO. The chairman can either run the board (usually holding many shares then) or can be just someone who makes sure meetings occur (usually few shares or a compromise position for a company with large shareholders who disagree on certain issues).

    Any of these can be given powers the others might have. This is decided by the shareholders and the Board of Directors. And their jobs can be changed at whim. The Chief Technology Architect could take control if he happened to own nearly 20% of the company (e.g. Bill Gates), for example.

    It's just a name. Bill is still Bill. He just doesn't want to do the boring legal stuff anymore and at $100 billion that's his call.
  • by nael ( 14123 ) on Thursday January 13, 2000 @01:51PM (#1374833) Homepage

    Love him or hate him, Bill Gates is the reason why Linux exist. If it was not for dos and windows 3.11 inferior code, Linus would not of been inspired to write linux. Can anyone argue where Linus got his inspiration? No, cuz he admited himself , look at Novemebrs issue of MIT Magazine of Innovation Technology Technology Review.

    People can argue this back and foward all they want, but growing up in an era with Bill Gates pushing the internet into everyones home is the reason why some of us are what we are today. No can argue the fact that Internet is readly available toady to millions is partly because of Microsoft Mission Statement which is " A computer on every desk and in every home using great software as an empowering tool". Now some might argue that their software is somewhat not so great, but the fact of the matter most of would still be using "MAC's" today if it was not for this man we love to hate.

    Bill Gates, is proably the most influential man in the high tech industry next to Tim Berns and Marc Anderson. Yea , the company was on a mission to destroy every one in its path, but thats what having a good strategy is "to over come your competition using best cost / low cost leader to differentiate yourself and gain market share at any cost."

    If Netscape, Apple, and all those wining company recognized the oppurtunity before Microsoft had, then the table would of been turned. I have to wonder what kind of management these companies had, to forgo oppurtunties that existed. Proably not astute managers, thats for sure. Why else would of Netscape surrendered to competetion?Netscape had their web site to leverage to be able to capture market share in the internet arena. They didn't.. Obviously AOL know's how based on the appearance and marketing of it today. The same with Apple, if they would have liscnesed the "OS" things might be different today. They didn't. Who's fault is that? Microsoft! Wrong, it's managements fault.
    When it all comes down to it, a company with astute managers and good business sense is more likely to succeed and fend of competetion than one that is just made up of a bunch of "TECHIES".

    With that in mind, I say Bill Gates is the greatest man to have come along since Henry Ford. He was able to mass produce a product and make it available to every one of us at an affordable price. Thus, making some of us who we are today. Network Engineers, Programers, Linux Geeks, Hackers, Web Site Desingers, entrapanuers, and so forth. Well you get the picture.

    The man we love to hate! Bill Gates
    Remeber him, cuz when we get older we'll all have something to talk about. :)

  • Good point. Bill probably figures Microsoft has reached the high point of its success and has decided to spend the next few years doing some other stuff besides kicking heads - like raising a family and giving away billions of dollars to worthy causes.

    I couldn't think of *any* job more enjoyable than giving away billions of dollars to causes *I* considered worthy (provided I still spent an hour or two each day coding free software :) ).

  • I don't think the profitability of any potential micro-MS would be Gate's deciding factor in which company he would want to be involved in.

    Immediately after the break-up, chances are he's going to own a big chunk of all 3 divisions anyway, so his money is more or less safe. I also imagine, he will have some degree of influence over the individual companies, due to his holdings in the company (ofcourse, I imagine the DOJ could force him to put his eggs in one basket or put other similar constraints on his involvement).

    (Also, I read somewhere that after the break up of Standard Oil and AT&T the respective market caps of the offshoot companies was greater than that of the whole, or somesuch. Basically, they were saying it's good to invest in a company just before a forced break up. Anyone got references to this? Or am I talking crap?).

    I imagine that the market would react favourably to whichever (if any!) of the companies Gates aligned himself with. Gates being Gates and all.

    But from the announcement, it sounds like he's going in to the applications division anyway.

    It'll be interesting to see how the market reacts over the next few days. MSFT has been on a bit of a roller coaster for the past week. It's worth pointing out that they're up 2% or so as of writing this, which is good considering they've been falling for a week or so. Have a look at [] or your favourite financial news site.

  • by cmuncey ( 66980 ) on Thursday January 13, 2000 @01:55PM (#1374838)
    There has been a lot of speculation (naturally) that this announcement is a reaction to the reports yesterday that the plaintiffs in the antitrust case want to split up Microsoft. I think that's unlikely as actions like this usually take time to work out (there can be legal issues). In fact, I think that this has probably been in the cards for some time, and has been scheduled for right after the 2000 rollover.

    Ballmer has been the heir apparent for some time as the designated hardass that can (they hope) keep Microsoft moving ahead of its problems. Gates is now at that age (like many of us) where the day to day business stuff that was once so exciting is a bore. He has a family, a house on Lake Washington about the size of Rhode Island, and enough money (no matter what happens) that will allow him to do what he wants as long as he wants. All he needs to do now is find something that interests him. What is there left for him to do in business? Build the richest company in the world? Become the richest man in the world? Talk about been there, done that . . .

    Gates is now looking to create a different kind of legacy for himself. As far as the lawsuit or splitup is concerned, a move like this is an upraised middle finger. If they really thought a splitup was going to happen, they (Gates, Ballmer, etc.) would either both move into division management to prepare, while leaving someone with more legal/financial backgroud to manage the details of the split with the DOJ and Wall Street. Microsoft knows it has to settle to survive, and Gates has put his chief junkyard dog in charge to handle the negotiations and aftermath -- he's the bad guy who will have to take all the actions to comply along with all the blame.

  • Gates most certainly does know how to code. I'm not sure how much Microsoft history you're familiar with, but he founded Microsoft based on a version of BASIC that he wrote for the Altair computer. He continued writing code for BASIC and several other programming languages well into the 80s, until his duties as CEO began to take up all of his time.


  • I could try, but then again you can find out from the horse's mouth []...
    engineers never lie; we just approximate the truth.
  • by anotherone ( 132088 ) on Thursday January 13, 2000 @02:01PM (#1374851)
    here you go: ofnine.jpg

    Make Seven
  • All of you giggling and postulating about Bill Gates being wary of a Microsoft breakup should be aware that he may be laughing all the way to the bank in the near future.

    You're very likely to be right about that. But that isn't the point! Bill Gates' net worth isn't too interesting to me, other than as a point of trivia. The point is to put an end to the days when MS could illegally take advantage of their monopoly status. Breaking up the company, combined with whatever other restrictions they place on MS, will hopefully achieve this goal. That's great! That's the point.

    If investors (not just Mr. Gates) make a profit from this a la Standard Oil, well, so be it...


  • by RelliK ( 4466 ) on Thursday January 13, 2000 @02:05PM (#1374859)
    Seven of Nine is a really hot chick. Steve Ballmer is a fat ugly bastard. I definitely don't want to see his picture...

  • Well, how much of any of that was written by Bill is still sometimes disputed, but if he did write it, that might explain what happened to Windows: designed by an assembler programmer good at writing *small* programs... Hmm.

    In any case, we know he didn't write DOS, and it's obvious that all the later versions of DOS were pretty much just hacked up from the earlier versions. (FAT12 -> FAT16, and now VFAT / FAT32? Puh-leese.)

    Windows 1.0 and 2.0 sucked, and they had teams of people working like that. Of the two, I still like GEOS better. Windows 3.0 and 3.1 was better, and more stable, but still couldn't multi-task well. In Windows '95/'98, they managed to fix the multi-tasking but drop the stability.

    In Windows NT, they originally fixed the stability, but raised the resource requirements massively. In later versions, they managed to speed it up some, but now it's less stable.

    It will be interesting to see what Windows 2000 brings, but none of this implies that people at Microsoft are good at big projects. Maybe they can all code great small assembler programs, and maybe they should have started with that and stuck to it for a while. After all, that's what got UNIX started. Maybe Microsoft will eventually manage to reinvent it. Or offer a good product at a fair price. Or give good tech support. Or take responsibility for their product's shortcomings, and advertise and benchmark truthfully.

    ...or they can just sue Al Gore for claiming to invent the Internet when we all *know* it was Bill Gates! That sounds more like it!
    pb Reply or e-mail; don't vaguely moderate [].
  • by griffjon ( 14945 ) <> on Thursday January 13, 2000 @02:08PM (#1374866) Homepage Journal
    It feels to me like the point in Wizard of Oz after the house (DoJ) landed on one witch, they learn that there's another one still to go.

    Seriously, tho, my first response to this was to see it as the obvious reply to the rumors of the split-up--leverage the top execs so that they are all at least somewhat experienced with the CEO seat before they get plopped into it. That, combined with Gates getting tired of being at the helm. All reliable reports I've heard is that it is true that he'd rather be in the trenches.

    Whether that's a good thing or not, well...
  • by Tumbleweed ( 3706 ) on Thursday January 13, 2000 @02:09PM (#1374868)
    > I'm glad bill
    > decided to step back instead of building a flying robotic
    > monster and having it lay waste to the campus -- that's what I
    > would have done.

    What do you think Windows 2000 is?! :)
  • I couldn't think of *any* job more enjoyable than giving away billions of dollars to causes *I* considered worthy (provided I still spent an hour or two each day coding free software :) ).

    It would be awesome to have billg hacking Linux kernel! He's a smart guy, and I am sure he would add a lot :)

    Hey, Bill, give it a try - why not?!
  • Why is it that according to many of the higher rated posts ANY change Microsoft makes that is not directly related to software development must be related to the DOJ? Anyone with a brain understands that companies do this type of thing all the time!!! Just because Bill decided he wanted to get away from heavy management (which for all intents and purposes it sounds like) does that have to be because of the DOJ?

    The DOJ is *NOT* going to break up Microsoft. They can huff and puff all they want but if they try to they will be into 10 years of court battles. (They know that and so does anyone with half a brain.) And with every AOL/Warner deal that goes down MS can point the finger and say "look at that." It won't be hard for them to find a judge that will agree. So get over it. It's not going to happen. Microsoft is here to stay, it's power may fall or climb but it's not going to go anywhere as much as some would like it to go *poof*.

    If Bill wants to have more time to spend with the product groups hell I say go for it. If he wants to spend time writing code more power to him. (Although I don't know what he has the skills to write nowadays). He should do what he enjoys and wants to do. He has that right just like the rest of us.
  • The alternate text on the image is "Bill Gates"

    ... but Steve is a much bigger man!

  • by Shoeboy ( 16224 ) on Thursday January 13, 2000 @02:19PM (#1374882) Homepage
    It would be awesome to have billg hacking Linux kernel! He's a smart guy, and I am sure he would add a lot :)

    I can see bill's first post to linux-kernel now:
    You^H^H^HWE are all thieves...

    Why not? ;)

  • Say I'm a poker player. And I've got about a trillion dollars in winnings. Now the government is trying to break up my game. I'm going to try to leave the table ASAP.

    I think he's trying to make himself impossible to touch, but I think he'll do it in stages. First he drops his CEOship. A year from now he decides MS doesn't need him anymore and retires to Guatemala or something.

    And then, BAM! DoJ slams down on MS. But Billy Boy left the business.

    I don't think Bill even cares about the future of MS. I'll bet he's selling off shares as we speak, quietly.
  • I disagree about the reason why linux was made. Sure, inferior MS products provided some motivation, but so did Linus' desire to learn x86 assembly (though afaik the asm code was abandoned to make the source portable), as well as his desire to create a free alternative to commercial unices. So, as I see it, if Bill Gates wasn't around, 2 of 3 reasons to create linux would still be here. I will agree that inferior MS products are one of, if not the major reason why linux has gained so much popularity with programmers and users alike. I agree with the rest of your comment, except the "greatest man" part. Sure, he paved the way for most of the stuff out there, and revolutionized the industry, but he's still a greedy, monopolizing, capitalizing person, so I think that "greatest" is a poor word choice -a better choice might be "most important" or "most influential"


  • Remember in 1998 when Gates stepped down as CEO and became chairman? Ballmer gave all the keynote speaches for Microsoft that year. Are they really playing musical positions or just trying to get on Slashdot?
  • Always there are two... A master and an
  • by xyzzy ( 10685 ) on Thursday January 13, 2000 @02:24PM (#1374895) Homepage
    The President of a company is usually responsible for the day-to-day running of a company -- for instance, are we selling enough product, do we have the right people in the right places to produce it, etc, etc.

    The CEO is responsible for the LONG TERM management of a company -- issues like: does the company as a whole have enough funding? What is the appropriate positioning in the marketplace? Can we forge alliances with other companies, or buy them outright? What markets should we be entering or leaving?

    In a way, the CEO is the actual head of the company.

    The board is another story. The board functions as an overseer. Typically, the board does NOT set policy, make rules or even high-level decisions. This, however, varies widely from company to company, but in general, they can't -- the typical company has board meetings once or twice a quarter at most. Their job is to act as advisor to the CEO (who almost almost ALWAYS has a seat on the board, and is usually chairman), and as a brake on them. They are not employees of the company -- frequently they ARE of other companies, or are executives of other companies, and they are also the elected representatives of the shareholders. Usually a fraction, or all of the board members are re-elected each year. As a last resort, they usually have the ability to remove the CEO, as they did at Compaq last year. oh, they one area they usually do rule over are issues like executive compensation.
  • Sounds like he's pulling a Steve Jobs finally. It won't be long till he returns as interim CEO. :)
    Joseph Elwell.
  • by jimmcq ( 88033 ) on Thursday January 13, 2000 @02:26PM (#1374899) Journal
    Reuter's Photo []
  • I've never doubted BillG's intelligence. Often doubted his concept of business ethics, though. Like most Slashdotters, I'm also extremely sceptical that he retains any programming ability (if indeed, he ever had any).

    Therefore, I'd like to challenge Bill to get a (non-documentation) patch accepted into *any* well-known free software project. In fact, I'd personally like to ask Bill to use his newly acquired free time to help out with GnuCash [] project.

    On the theory that people contribute to free software to scratch a personal itch, I reckon Bill might like to add support for arbitrary-precision arithmetic to prevent floating-point overflows . . .

  • by RayChuang ( 10181 ) on Thursday January 13, 2000 @02:29PM (#1374905)

    Stop sounding like a bunch of conspiracy theorists who've been listening to too much Art Bell. (shrug)

    Consider this: how long has Bill Gates been running Microsoft as CEO? 25 years? Given the fact he's raising a family and also does have some other serious hobbies in life (e.g., his considerable interest in biotechnology), I think Mr. Gates wants a change of scenery and do something that won't be so taxing.

    His place in history is already completed; he wants to do other things like life, just like when Steve Wozniak stepped down from Apple Computer.
  • Of course, he has been Microsoft CEO for nearly 25 years, and he has a huge image problem.

    From what I understand, Bill Gates's purported image problem does not extend to the general public. I recall seeing a recent (post-Findings of Fact) poll that said that something like 66% of Americans see him as the embodiment of the American Dream. Of course polls are fallible, but just beacause he isn't terribly popular among the slashdot crowd doesn't mean that nobody likes him.
  • Seesh, it's sad but true. Outside of the tech-geek-type friends I have, almost everyone else just doesn't get why we shun Microsoft and despise Gates and all he stands for.

    Funny how people mesh together things like Microsoft, AOL and the internet - kind of viewing them as a contiguous whole, and Bill is the most recognizable figure in all that. "Steve Case, didn't he play for the Red's in the '70's?"

    On another note, like how MS mouthpiece jumps on the TW/AOL merger as further proof that Microsoft is not a monopoly? What?!


  • Take a minute and critically (that means no demagogic knee-jerking kids) about what life would be like if Microsoft didn't exist tomorrow. Are you Open Source guys ready to give free tech support to every 90 yr old granny who wants to print a birthday card? I sure hope so in such a circumstance...

    This is why specialized support companies exist. I personally won't do even phone support for my own fhttpd for every non-technical user, but this is the reason why open source software is profitable for businesses -- someone else can have its own support infrastructure make money on it.

    As for every grandma trying to print a greeting card, no one would be hurt if she wouldn't be able to -- Hallmark makes better ones anyway. One who is interested in selling software to users, whose support doesn't justify the distribution cost should deal with this problem, not developers.

  • Like how MS mouthpiece jumps on the TW/AOL merger as further proof that Microsoft is not a monopoly? What?!

    Well, the theory is that Microsoft is going to be the 600-pound gorrilla that takes over the software industry. That has always been a stretch, but it's now even more ridiculous with AOL suddenly doubling in size and getting revenue streams outside the computer industry. There's no way they are going to back down if MS tries to strong-arm them.
  • If that is the case why doesn't he do it himself?
  • by knight_23 ( 35042 ) on Thursday January 13, 2000 @02:44PM (#1374925)
    Is it just me or did they get this from the TARDOS Times ...

    The story was posted "Posted Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2000, at 9:07 a.m." and in the article it says "On Thursday, Microsoft founder Bill Gates announced that he was handing over the job of CEO"

    I what to know how they know, you know?

  • I mean, Bill G. was never THAT great of a software designer in the first place.

    (I cant' believe I'm doing this...) Just a minute there. He was no god, but he actually pulled off some decent stuff in the 70s. I remember getting quite intimate with the inner workings of a Microsoft BASIC interpreter for the 6502 and being rather amazed that someone had written such a large project in assembly language. It may not sound very hard or complex to people nowdays, but try to imagine writing your own floating point routines on a processor that doesn't even know how to multiply integers, and only has one "general purpose" register.

    It's not a godlike project (and I'm sure that many people reading this have done similar things), but it's quite nontrivial too, and simply impossible if you are clueless. I don't know how much of that code Gates wrote (none? all? some?) but MS was a pretty small company back then, so I wouldn't be surprised if he did much of the work.

    (Not to mention the story about the Altair BASIC interpreter that ran correctly the very first time that it was loaded onto the hardware...)

    Gates may have once been a decent programmer. It wasn't really until the 80s that he stopped relying on his production skills and started to concentrate on market manipulation instead. I don't even want to think about what must have happened to him, to make him turn to such limitless evil, and to so willfully betray and sacrifice even the pretense of ethical conduct.

    Perhaps that's what makes him so infamous. When PHBs in suits attack our culture and try to stop the advance of technology, it is 'only' war. When a programmer does it, it is defection and treason.

  • by Wraithlyn ( 133796 ) on Thursday January 13, 2000 @02:47PM (#1374929)

    I agree with the previous post. Nearly everyone on this site is biased against Microsoft to some degree. Maybe this is flamebait but it's completely true.

    I curse Windows and Microsoft on a daily basis as much as everyone else, and don't get me wrong, I fully support Linux as a superior operating system... it is. However I haven't killed my hope that Microsoft can improve. Can anyone truly say they believe that Microsoft has no talented people working for them? It's a question of how that talent is being used.. (namely, for marketing, not QA oriented goals)

    Bill Gates isn't a god, or a monster. He's flesh and blood just like the rest of us, trying to do good in the hyper-competitive, vicious world we have created for ourselves.

    How many of you have even considered the possibility that Gates has regrets? I doubt very much he's blind to what an unstable operating system Windows is. I think he stepped down as head of Microsoft simply because he's currently unpopular, and he wants to protect Microsoft, his life's work. (Before you start yelling at me that he made himself unpopular, I suggest you take a good look at Slashdot's Gates/Borg icon and ask yourself who really makes demons of men)

    I'm not saying Microsoft is going to turn around and start laying golden eggs, but Gates stepping down from CEO and focusing more on improving their software is at least an ATTEMPT to move in that direction. Oh no, wait, I forgot. It's a big monstrous conspiracy to cleverly position himself as the uber antichrist of the next millenium. Silly me.

    I'm sorry to be caustic, but the amount of suspicion and hatred flowing from what I usually find an extremely open minded, intelligent, and positive community just sickens me sometimes.

  • by mjh ( 57755 ) <mark.hornclan@com> on Thursday January 13, 2000 @02:48PM (#1374932) Homepage Journal
    Very likely all three companies will do really well, just inflating Bill Gates' personal fortune into even more stratospheric heights. It happened to Rockerfeller when the government split up Standard Oil, don't be surprised to see it happen again.

    I don't understand the preoccupation that people seem to have with the idea that a split up microsoft could be worth more than a whole microsoft. Who cares?

    The point in splitting up Microsoft is not to make the resulting companies less successful than the parent. It's to keep the interaction of those individual businesses fair, so that MS Windows corp has to compete with {Linux,BeOS,MacOS,etc} on its own merits. Not on the fact that it can tie MS Applications corp's products into its products, and force MS Applications corp not to port to any other environment.

    I just keep thinking of how cool it would be if suddenly MS Applications corp decided that it was in their financial interest to port to {Linux,BeOS,etc}. In such a situation, I *WANT* that company to succeed, and to be a pioneer in encouraging other applications companies in porting to {insert non-Windows OS here}.

  • Gates often stated that it was his not his intention to run Microsoft forever. Ballmer is easily mean enough and nasty enough to bring Microsoft into the twenty-first century.

    I don't mean this as a flame, but over the years, Bill has mellowed from someone who can get things done into "Tweedledee".

    Now he's being replaced by Tweedle-You-WILL-get-that-goddamned-module-up-and- running-or-you're-fired-and-I- don't-give-a-shit-if-you-have-to-stay-up-all-f**ki ng-night-to-do-it!-dum.

    It's obvious that for the past several years, Ballmer has been the asshole behind the stink that is Microsoft, anyway.

    (And by that, I mean he's been the guy to make sure company goals are being pursued as vigorously as possible. Now if we could only convince them that *stability* and *security* are valid company goals along with a unified, friendly, consistent user interface.)

    And BTW, I think that almost every successful BIG company has one of these...

  • Gates has said before that he believes that the Internet is Microsoft's future.

    Now, with the possibility that M$ will be broken up into 3 parts - OS, Software and Internet, Gates has positioned himself at the head of the section he believes is the way forward anyway.

    The other two sections - OS (which is facing increasing competition from Linux, MacOS, BeOS, etc) and software (now facing renewed competition from Sun with StarOffice, amongst others) are both, it would seem, on downward spirals, meanwhile IE usage (which I know isn't the entirety of M$'s Internet business, but is a good indication) is skyrocketting - the website I run has approximately 60% of users using IE5, another 20% using IE4. IIS has crushed Netscape's web server platform, and, if you believe what M$ say, is a serious contender for the www server crown. ASP is widespread, backending into SQL6.5 and SQL7 databases.

    Gates has simply positioned himself at the top of the fastest growing section of M$ for the breakup - he's kept M$ alive for 25 years by making "smart" decisions - M$ never rose to the heady heights they've reached because they had the best software - but because Gates made the right decisions for the company's longetivity, and it appears he's doing it again.

    You have to remember - if M$ survives, Gates survives. People say he's the richest man in the world, but a LOT of his wealth is tied up in M$ - and if M$ fails, he'll lose a LOT of money.
  • Well, the chairman runs the board of directors. The board is made up of good-ol buddys that typically are executives of other companies, retired executives, directors of other companies and the like. Go to the library and look at the annual reports from any two or three big companies and you'll see what I mean.

    The board typically meets quarterly or so and does things like hire/fire CEOs, elect new board members, bitch and moan about stock performance, set dividends, set major corporate strategy directives (buy/sell divisions, mergers, what businesses to get into/out of) and pretty much vote themselves big stock bonuses. These are the folks at the top of the capital pyramid and the Chairman is the Alpha Capitalist. The Chairman is the one most accountable to the stockholders.

    Chief Executive Officer in my company is the one that runs the operations. He is the one that all of the business unit presidents and vice-presidents report to. He tells them what to do. He sets financial and operating targets for them and they cower in fear if they don't meet their targets. CEO typically is brought in by the board on a contract basis, with all kinds of bonuses and penalties based on performance written in, and usually a nice early termination insurance clause.

    Our CEO is also our president so I may have the distinction a little confused, but the President has the CEO, CFO, CIO and resource units (R&D, HR, etc) all reporting to him. He sets the overall direction for the business. He is the one who carries the business results to the board and comes back with his head in his hands and his marching orders from the board. His bottom line responsibility is to maximize shareholder value (read: run the company profitably so the stock goes up and the board doesn't get fired at the next stockholder meeting).

    At least this is the way it seems to work in my company. I know there is quite a bit of difference depending on the industry (I'm in a Phone Company spin-off IS/Service Bureau) and such.

  • by bhurt ( 1081 ) on Thursday January 13, 2000 @03:02PM (#1374951) Homepage
    There is another aspect to this people should consider as a possible motive: it's effect on Windows 2000.

    An earlier /. article linked to a study claiming that some large plurality (60+%) of large IS departments were not planning on switching to W2K until 2001 or later, while an excessively large minority (10+%) were not planning to switch at all. Wether these numbers are accurate or not it has to be plain that customer demand for W2K will be soft- especially compared to the roll-out of Windows 95. By putting The Man himself on the project, they may be hoping for a "Steve Jobs effect" for W2K. Especially for the faithfull who still look upon Bill Gates as a technical visionary.

    In addition, IIRC the W2K project has already driven two managers into early retirement, and Brad Silverberg (of W95 fame) didn't want to touch it with a 10' cattle prod. One has to wonder if W2K hasn't acquired the stench of being a career killer for those put in charge of it within the halls of Microsoft. Once again, putting The Man in charge could be a (internal) PR boost for W2K.
  • by Uruk ( 4907 ) on Thursday January 13, 2000 @03:06PM (#1374955)
    Guys like gates, love them or hate them, usually aren't motivated by money, and while he may make moves that are financially sound, I really doubt much of his motivation for doing anything is his own *personal* wealth. (Obviously he has micros~1's wealth in mind, otherwise he would have been kicked out of the CEO's chair by the stockholders)

    Generally speaking, wealth is meausured in terms of orders of magnitude, not total dollar amounts. That's why somebody who has $9 million is in the same bracket as someone who has $1.2 million. Obviously, the difference of 7.8 million is a HUGE difference, but they're both "millionaires" and we leave it as that.

    Billy isn't that close to jumping up another order of magnitude, because the higher you go, the harder it is to progress in terms of order of magnitude. In terms of day to day, and even life long decisions including providing for your next 3 generations, *there is no functional difference between having $5 billion and having $9 billion* Again, sure one is a hell of a lot more than the other (to the tune of $4 billion) but that is such an absurd amount of cash that I would think most people never touch the capital to begin with. You just stick it in reasonably conservative investments, and live like a king off of the interest.

    Bill isn't dumb, he knows all this since he's probably got a small army of CPAs that just administer his finances. So let's be optimistic and say that with "Baby Bills" he could stand to end up $4 billion richer than he was before. WHO CARES??? He can't spend that amount in his lifetime, and it's doubtful his kids could either. (short of wholesale gambling and simply throwing it away). What's the motivation for earning the extra $4 billion? There isn't one...

    Bill gets off on control and ego. He gets off on having one of the largest corporations on earth under his control, and being a celebrity probably. Money just can't be a motivating factor. If it is, then he is WAY more shallow than anyone could possibly have ever imagined. And comfortable living can't be it either, because he achieved that a long time ago.

  • by Pont ( 33956 ) on Thursday January 13, 2000 @03:07PM (#1374957)
    An angry man walks up to Bill Gates and says, "Behind all that money, you're still just a NERD!".

    Gates looks at him and says, "You know, if I had a million dollars for every time someone called me a nerd... Oh... nevermind. I do."

    If I were Bill Gates, instead of stepping down as CEO of MS, I'd leave completely, buy Apple or Be, and try and crush MicroSoft. You know, just for the hell of it. Of course, BillG selling all his stock at once would seriously hurt MS as it is.
  • I realize this escapes all the MS-bashers here but Bill Gates is actually a *great* software designer at the conceptual level. If he manages to get MS focused on software again then Linux is in for a much harder battle.

    By software designer, of course, I don't mean programmer, but rather the person who decides which projects to focus on and directs new development. And Gates has been incredible at that in the past.

    The seamless integration of the Office Suite, Linking and embedding, the concept of COM everywhere, getting the entire product line Internet-ready in an amazingly short time, VBA across the product line, etc. Forget the silly flames: Gates has a very good knack of identifying the needs of the public and providing software for those needs.

    This move has been rumored quite a bit over the last year as service packs kept getting recalled and NT2K kept getting pushed back. MS needs someone to get the development groups focused, and Gates is the perfect person for this. I'm not surprised he's tired of dealing with lawsuits all day long.
  • by Chris Johnson ( 580 ) on Thursday January 13, 2000 @03:15PM (#1374966) Homepage Journal
    Gates is arranging matters so he can entirely cash out. He's done. He's tired of being treated like a villain, cannot understand why he'd be considered guilty in this, and at a time when it's becoming clear that _something's_ going to go down painting the braintrust of Microsoft as robber barons and criminals, Gates finds that is not to his taste.

    He can't buy off the government- he's tried. But he can buy a fall guy. That is Ballmer. He can extricate himself, claim Ballmer set the whole tone for the abuses of MS, and spend the rest of his life giving away huge sums of money while still living better than most kings. Who wouldn't want that? Gates wants that.

    It is also true that the kind of person who can build an empire of this nature simply will not let go- but this isn't Gates letting go, really. Microsoft's _reputation_ is being wrested from him, and I'd say this also indicates no plans of Microsoft's indicate any change in overall strategy or approach. MS will play dirty to the end- Gates doesn't see this as wrong, but he's not a dope and he does see that _others_ see it as wrong. Given enough incentive, people do change- I picture Gates thinking about his image, how he wishes to be seen. He can afford to be the benevolent philanthropist for the rest of his life, a Carnegie in the best possible way- if he chooses. But at some point he must accept that Microsoft has taken him as far as it can- and has started to get in the way of his new dreams for a well-loved future as a philanthropist. And, just like any of a thousand unfortunate tech startups that were in the way and had to go, now Microsoft, its culture, its legacy are in the way of the life Gates wants for himself- and it has to go.

    Gates is not a sentimental man, and he is easily as perceptive as the Judge and intelligent enough to see the full implications of his position. At some point he began taking all this seriously- and started laying escape plans.

    Ballmer is left in a position to preside over the decay of an empire. There's really no way for MS to expand further- _especially_ with AOL Time Warner suddenly appearing- and MS is hopelessly dependent not on profitability alone but an outlandish growth rate. That cannot continue and won't. Ballmer is also combative, a perfect match to the job of making Microsoft fight to the death. They won't in fact die, but their being relegated to only one choice in an industry of choices will be a very, very painful and bitterly fought loss.

    Gates has the opportunity, having made MS what it is, to now cut it loose, cash in, and go home to be a lovable billionaire. Doing this is perfectly in character with the approach that made MS what it is- ironically, I'd been saying for awhile that there was no reason to believe MS would have loyalty to the USA, and now it turns out that Gates does not have loyalty to a losing MS either. Perhaps surprising, but plausible.

    Get used to the idea of Gates as a benevolent philanthropist. He _will_ be able to separate himself from the unpleasantness, but his ways of doing so may be startling...

  • There comes a point in sim city where you either quit or click on the disasters menu and select all of them. I'm glad bill decided to step back instead of building a flying robotic monster and having it lay waste to the campus -- that's what I would have done.

    What you are looking for is a flock of penguins!
  • *sigh* I'll be happy to disagree with you here.

    You're right, Windows '95-2000 (there's a Y2K bug), Office, and Visual Studio all are very "featured". They also have many "mis-features", and many bugs. Unix has features that people actually *need* (that's why they put them there). Also, Unix is an Operating System, not a Word Processor, let's maintain that distinction. If you want a Word Processor for Unix, I'm sure you can find a good one, but you don't buy it from UNIXSoft, okay?

    I'll have to disagree with this next one: Linux looks like Unix, it behaves like Unix, and it's implemented *well* compared to many commercial unixes. Of course, this all depends on what you want, but... ever used HP/UX? Linux makes *much* more sense compared to that. If you've used one particular commercial Unix for a while, you might be biased towards a particular flavor, as I surely am towards Linux, but they all share a lot of similarities.

    What I like about Linux is that it caches *very* well, does very efficient process creation, is pretty stable, and supports a lot of devices (a note on these two: of course, some drivers are more stable than others, and there are always patches. That's what happens when you get something in development. However, I've never seen Linux get Unstable in the sense that Windows does--everything happens for a reason in Linux, and you can find out what it is if you know what you're doing.)

    VMS is supposed to be good for scalability. I can't personally vouch for that, because I've seen it in situations where it must have been badly misconfigured. But that says something for its stability, because it didn't go down, it just went *really* slow. However, NT didn't get either of those features right. And I've seen Unix be just as stable as VMS, and far more friendly. :)

    Win32 *does* have APIs for just about everything. It's a headache. Especially since it manages them with DLLs, which have to be the worst excuse for libraries that I've ever seen. First off, who in their right mind would let a program randomly modify/overwrite crucial system libraries? (or, even worse, let a *user* do this...) And even if you did, what if you have different, incompatible library versions with the same name? Microsoft did this many times in different versions of Office--they would replace a DLL that another Windows program used, such that installing Office breaks the other Windows program! That's apparently Microsoft Binary Compatibility for you. Maybe you could give them different names in a filesystem that did symlinks properly. Hmm... ;)

    In the meantime, if you want APIs to program with, you can find tons of them for Linux. DGA instead of DirectX, many of the Windows APIs are implemented in Wine, there are many sound / graphics interfaces, some of them crossplatform like SDL, and many widget sets (I wish Windows knew what a widget set was!) and window managers (ditto for that, Windows needs more cool shells) and many free ready-made applications and stuff.
    pb Reply or e-mail; don't vaguely moderate [].
  • I tried a Google search for the above phrase [], a quote from Mr Ballmer, and guess who headed the hit list []? (-:
  • >the 600-pound gorrilla that takes over the software industry

    Assume you meant 'takes over the internet media industry.'

    Sure enough, that's the spin they're trying to put on it. That's not the focus of the anti-trust case though, is it? They'd like you to think that but it is more about their past illegal business practice of leveraging their monopoly position in desktop OS to the detriment of conusmers, competitors and others that is at issue.

    This has been said over and over, a monopoly in itself is not illegal, it's the things you do *as* a monopoly that break laws. (INAL)

  • That Bill G. is an even marginally talented programmer is a common misperception, even among geeks.

    Paul Allen (a very GOOD hacker at the time) did most of the Altair work.

    At most Bill acted as Allen's "agent". He was the one angling to make sure he (and Allen) made money off of Allen's skills. Witness his now infamous "big foot" letter [] to Altair hobbiests, regarded now as the start of retail software sales. That is Bill Gates' primary legacy to computing, not any real programming.
  • I don't want to post a "me too," but this is exactly what I was thinking. Gates will be able to lead the best submicrosoft. Ballmer would have been CEO of the other one anyway, so this just seems like almost a publicity stunt. Maybe this is the first step in some MS settlement strategy? Maybe if they break MS up the way THEY want they can head off the government splitting them up the way THEY want.

    I love the "Breaking up this company is such a terrible idea!!" comments from Ballmer.

    um, sigs should be heard and not seen?

  • It's pretty well documented that Linus wrote linux to replace with a shitty OS, but the shitty os in question was Minix.

    I doubt too many of the early kernel hackers cited "hatred of windows" as their prime motivation. They most likely considered dos/windows irrelevant and were motivate by dislike of the high price and unfree nature of commercial *nixen.

  • by SuperJ ( 125753 ) on Thursday January 13, 2000 @04:34PM (#1375014) Homepage
    Microsoft Rhapsody by Justin Osborn To the tune of: BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY by Queen Is this the boot disk? Is this the Win CD? Caught in a deadline This software is real crappy. Open a file, look up at the screen and see, I'm just a marketer, give me some sympathy Because I'm loaded man, playing spades, on my LAN, everyday. Quality of Windows doesn't really matter to me, to me. Ballmer just quit my job On TV prime time, signed on the dotted line. Ballmer, I was having fun But now I'm going to go goof off. Ballmer, ooh, Didn't mean to make you cry, If we're not regulated by tomorrow, Carry on, carry on, cause quality doesn't matter. Too late, not having fun I'm getting very bored, with the bugs in MS Word. Goodbye ev'rybody, I'm gonna go, Gonna connect to Hotmail and hack root. Ballmer, ooh, I don't wanna use vi Sometimes I wish I knew a little Linux. I see a little silhouetteo of a man, Steve Jobs, Steve Jobs, could it be some competition Torvalds and Penguin, very very scaring me. IE5.0 IE5.0 IE5.0 IE5.0 IE5.0 Word 6.0 Alpha I'm just a marketer, nobody loves me. He's just a marketer, with a long history Stealing intellectual property. Monopoly, what d'you know? will you let me go? Microsoft! No, you bought out all we know. (We like slow!) Microsoft! You bought out all we know. (We like slow!) Microsoft! You bought out all we know. (I like slow.) Bought out all we know. (I like slow.) Bought out all we know. (I like slow.) Heck no, Heck no, Heck no Prosecution Prosecution, Prosecution let me go. The DoJ has a punishment for me, for me, for me. So you think you can split us and break us apart. So you think you can fine us, we'll make a new start. Oh DoJ, can't do this to me, DoJ, I'm gonna get out, I'm gonna get right outta here. Quality doesn't matter, Windows users see, Quality doesn't matter, Quality doesn't matter, to me.
  • by brianvan ( 42539 ) on Thursday January 13, 2000 @05:38PM (#1375048)
    The story told here is both tragic and promising, if everyone will put down the biases first.

    The idea of Gates as a well-loved philanthropist is something we should hold more strongly in our minds than the "BillGatus of Borg" image we beat to death. Whether truth or opinion, the image of Gates as an evil dictator is not very appealing and does no one good. The image of Gates as the next Carnegie, on the other hand, is very pleasing and beneficial to our minds and our society. My belief is that the entire presence of computers in our world is entirely mythical - although I don't want to get into that. Based on that idea, if you can swallow it, there are no heroes or villians on the Internet or in the tech industry different from those in real life. Such is why the entire antitrust case against MS is a complete fallacy, such is why AOL could merge with AT&T and all the Baby Bells if they wanted to and our existence will be no different, such is why Linus Torvalds is just some guy from Finland when he walks into a local bar.

    I hate to see this as the beginning of the end (or some substantial part of it) for MS. First of all, I think Gates is taking his natural role right now rather than cashing out (as this move has little to do with money). Even if it is motivated by the imminent collapse of MS or the current turmoil, it's not as if the power structure is radically shifting - it's more like the movement of the tectonic plates. Second, the idea of this leading into the bitter end for MS is just nauseating. After all, this is a company with tens of thousands of employees, the highest market capitalization of any company existing today, hundreds of (arguably) quality products on store shelves, and a solid financial foundation. Sure, any company can give up the ghost tomorrow for any reason, but it doesn't HAVE to be that way for MS. Especially in light of the AOL-TimeWarner merger, it seems STUPID that a company like Microsoft can lose everything. AOL-TimeWarner could collapse under it's own weight, and yet Microsoft has stayed agile and responsive to the industry over the years throughout failure and success. This alone should be a good reason to not count MS out yet. Finally, like I said computers are mythical and only real people make the difference. Microsoft is still a real corporation with real people in charge... pretty much the same real people as before. No one is going to skip buying Office 2000 tomorrow because Gates isn't CEO. Office 2000 will be the same product as it was yesterday, and Microsoft's ability to continue releasing good or half-baked products and making money regardless is what will tell their future.

    That said, is this the end of an era for MS and the computing industry? Maybe. I can't see how that AOL-TimeWarner merger really changes the success of other companies... for example, Yahoo isn't going to be upstaged just because they DIDN'T merge with another company. Same goes for Microsoft... it's a pure battle of control and hype, and in the end the real world fact is that I can hardly think of any major products that the new AOL-TimeWarner possesses that directly compete with anything from Microsoft and vice versa. Microsoft can still succeed in the face of AOL, the DOJ, Linux, temp workers, whatever. If they heavily rely on what they've done in the past to dictate their future, THEN THEY'RE DONE. But they really never have. Not in the real world anyway. Sure, on the computer, it's slow reused 16-bit legacy code in Windows98, it's a web browser given away for free just to crush Netscape, it's Service Pack 7 for NT, it's that annoying paper clip animation. But you have to think for a second... these are all little nitpicks. No one is going to totally upheave their computer(s) because of these things. Microsoft's OS dominance might outlast Microsoft itself. But MS can't live on that alone. And if you naively think that MS has no chance of continuing to be a dominant company, well then you are probably forgetting that all MS has to do is to keep making progress like they have been for 20 years to keep alive and healthy, never mind being the market leader.

    Which is why I'm sure that Gates isn't thinking MS is doomed right now. Knowing Gates, he's doing something radical that he probably knows is in the best interests of the company... kinda like John Carmack stepping in and hiring an outsider to improve the bot code in Quake 3 Arena. I think that it's probably a nice side effect that he drops the negative attention directed toward him, and I think it's good for everyone in the real world that someone like him have as little negative attention possible focused on him. The idea of Gates as a benevolent philanthropist sounds heartwarming, even. It would be a shame if all of this posturing, hype, and hypocrisy in the tech industry ruined that for the rest of us. But that's not an issue until Bill quits everything and starts handing out all the cash. Even if Microsoft florishes or whithers, he's going to win in this situation for himself. But I think he still has MS on his mind, and I think that this might be the start of something real good for Microsoft. And possibly the rest of us.
  • by MajorBlunder ( 114448 ) on Thursday January 13, 2000 @07:08PM (#1375081)
    Bill becoming "Chief Software Architect," of course has a number of implications. One of them is that Bill is trying to rework his image. In the wake of Linus Torvalds increasing popularity, (which among some groups has become reverential awe, and is swiftly approaching worship) Bill may be looking at his future, and realizing that being remembered as merciless marketer and corporate raider, is hardly the legacy he'd care to leave behind. Being thought of as a programing genius will mean much more in the comming decades.

    Thats my $.02

  • by MattMann ( 102516 ) on Thursday January 13, 2000 @08:40PM (#1375115)
    There's an important legal distinction to add:

    When a corporation is organized, by law (and in some cases regulations close to being laws) it must have

    • a President, the person who "presides" over the company making day to day decisions. Everybody in the company reports (directly or indirectly through other managers) to the president.

    • The president works for the shareholders, the owners, but indirectly through an group elected by the shareholders, the board of directors who represent the owners interests. The person who presides over the board of directors is the Chairman.
      For a small company, the board of directors is likely to be the investors themselves (VCs, for example). For a large company, then you see execs from other companies. (somebody here (Cliff Stoll?) said "go to the library" -- uh, there's this new thing, I like to call it the "web"? take a look here [] :)
      The board meets quarterly, sometimes more, and hears a pitch from the President, who then leaves while the board discusses and votes. Some decisions require board approval, but the President mostly better do what they say because they can fire her. They decide things like "we need to sell a new chunk of shares to raise money to buy AOL" or "we are not going to pay a dividend this quarter because we wish to use the money to pay down our debt"

    • a Treasurer who is in charge of keeping track of the cash, the shares and the debts and the assets

    I think there are other jobs like "counsel" (a lawyer) and "secretary" (keeps track of the decisions) which I will ignore. Remember, these positions must exist by law.

    Now, in large organizations and those where insiders are the shareholders and they maintain a lot of control, it can be convenient for them to switch some of the roles around, consolidating and delegating on the basis of the needs of the business or the particular strengths of the personalities. This is where we get unofficial but descriptive titles like

    • CEO, the Chief Executive Officer, the person who makes day to day but strategic decisions. It can be the President or the Chairman, or in rare cases neither. This is very likely to be a charismatic person who you identify with the company (Jobs or Trump) or the shrewd "brains" (Buffet) or a really good manager (Welch at GE). They are very future oriented, and keep the collective eyes on the ball.

    • COO is important to a company that has extensive operations. Think of IBM, with its vast manufacturing and service networks with bezillions of employees. Day to day they don't make glamorous decisions, but they make sure the rubber meets the road.

    • CFO keeps track of the financial big picture (there is way more to this than you can imagine). Generally the Treasurer, the CFO keeps track of the long-term money (from investors) with a bean counter underneath called the Controller keeping track of the short term money from/to customers/suppliers. There are probably examples of visionary CFOs who have a starched Treasurer working for them.

    • CIO for companies that rely heavily on their information (Wall Street, Airlines)

    • CTO, mostly bullshit so some techie with a lot of stock feels important, but can be a real job. Think of companies that use technology strategically (FedEx) not companies that produce it (Microsoft).
  • by SurfsUp ( 11523 ) on Friday January 14, 2000 @02:48AM (#1375165)
    All of you giggling and postulating about Bill Gates being wary of a Microsoft breakup should be aware that he may be laughing all the way to the bank in the near future.

    No, he won't, see below

    The government might split Microsoft into 3 (or so) entities, but it can't strip Bill Gates of what will be his large ownership in all 3 companies.

    The conventional wisdom is that the value of the separated entities will rise higher than the value of the original entity, as happened with the Standard Oil breakup. This is just false. What will happen is the bottom will fall out of the stock price - faced with competition from free software, and no longer having the means of forcibly maintaining the existing monopoly, the Baby Bills revenue can go nowhere but down.

    Microsoft's current annualized revenue is about $25 billion (being generous); its market capitalization is about $500 billion. That's a 20 times multiple on earnings whereas a mature, stable business with stable revenue would normally have something more like 2x. Microsoft's valuation is based on one thing: expectation of continued exponential earnings growth. That just ain't gonna happen. In fact, the baby Bills are going to have to dance like crazy just to avoid having their earnings decimated by the need to compete with free software and unshackled industry competitors. In short: end of exponentional earnings growth == goodbye 20x multiple on revenue. Hello 2x multiple, and maybe worse. Shareholders aren't so clueless that they can't see that as well as anybody else can; neither are the professional short sellers.

    Hooboy, that means Microsoft's stock will fall like a lead balloon.
  • by ch-chuck ( 9622 ) on Friday January 14, 2000 @04:04AM (#1375175) Homepage
    are getting really long-winded here.
    Damage control! Battlestations!! Ensign, prepare a press release...

  • by MattMann ( 102516 ) on Friday January 14, 2000 @08:01AM (#1375229)
    somebody's a little bitter

    Good one! :)

    actually, to clarify, CTO is abused. Let me explain it this way: note that there is never a CMO, a chief marketing officer. This is because marketing the company's products is so central to the company that it doesn't need explicit representation in the executive suite beyond what the CEO brings. In a like manner, if you are a technology company, the CEO looks after the technology in the products, and the engineers are perfectly capable of selecting their own technology tools.

    But think about supermarkets 20 years ago: who was going to champion the expensive installation of scanners? That's a CTO role, created when a CEO is visionary enough to understand that the company needs one.

    It's important not to have strict rules about this stuff, none of it is hard and fast. Does Real Networks or AOL need a CTO? I.e., are they media companies or technology companies? There is no answer to that question, just like there is no one way to coach a football team. You make your best predictions, look at the people-assets you have, deploy them and see if you win. Winning says that what you did worked in your situation.

1 Angstrom: measure of computer anxiety = 1000 nail-bytes