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Microsoft

Slashdot Reader Analyzes BBC Interview With Bill Gates 377

The Dodger writes "I've just finished watching the Bill Gates interview on BBC. The first conclusion I came to is that he's very intelligent and quite good at controlling the conversation. Luckily, [BBC's] Jeremy Paxman is a very good interviewer. He's not afraid of asking difficult questions and he's prepared to risk antagonising his interviewees instead of sticking to nice safe topics. He challenged Gates on various issues, even mentioning Linus Torvalds, but unfortunately Jeremy isn't a technology expert, so the topic of open standards and protocols wasn't raised, and when Gates' asserted that the field was wide open for anyone to do what he and Microsoft have done, Jeremy didn't know enough to point out that when someone begins to look like they might challenge Microsoft's position, they get driven out of business or acquired." (More from The Dodger below).

However, the interview has enlightened me as to Gates' motivations. Some people have said he's motivated by money. I don't think so. Others say that he's power-hungry. I don't think he comes across as the sort of person who's massively concerned about power.

One significant thing I noticed was that Gates seems to believe that Microsoft is responsible for the success of the personal computer and he seems to believe that it's because of his company's software that the Internet has become as popular as it has. He asserted, during the interview, that Microsoft's software empowers people to publish their thoughts on the Internet, yet he later admitted that he didn't like the fact that others might use that same software to incite race hatred. He also spoke quite enthusiastically about what lay ahead and the sort of technologies (e.g. speech recognition) that Microsoft is currently working on.

I think Gates believes that he and Microsoft have, almost single-handedly, advanced the human race to the brink of the information age. I think he credits himself and his company as being directly responsible for the fact that there is "a computer on every desk and in every home".

I believe that Bill Gates sees himself as some kind of custodian. Because Microsoft has been so successful and because its software runs on nine out of every ten of the world's computers, he's come to the conclusion that he knows better than anyone else and, therefore, he has assumed the responsibility for leading humanity into the information age.

I think that he sees Microsoft as a tool - it is the company which will do the research, develop the technology and market the software which will help the human race advance. He sees himself as its custodian, rather than its owner. The fact that he has decided to leave his money, not to his children, but to a charitable institution which will fund research into health and education, supports this theory. Bill Gates does actually see himself as having been chosen, in some way, to help humanity.

I'm not saying that he sees himself as some sort of Messiah or genius; just that he has this perception of himself as someone who can change things for the better.

The problem is that he thinks he knows best and this explains his willingness to stomp all over any potential competition who might pose a threat to Microsoft's position (and thus, to his plans and vision of the future), as well as his arrogance towards the US Government.

Let me make it clear that I don't think Bill Gates is evil. I don't think his motivations are selfish. I merely think that he is misguided. He thinks that he knows best and he uses this belief to justify what he does, in effectively forcing the world to adopt the standards which his company has developed, under his supervision, not because he wants to be rich or powerful, but because he believes that he knows best than everyone else.

I don't blame Gates for his actions or the actions of his company. I think his intentions, deep down, are good. But I think that he may suffer from some psychological condition which blinds him to the fact that he doesn't have the right to disregard others just because he thinks he knows best. I suspect that he may believe that the end justifies the means. However, whilst I don't believe that Bill Gates' ultimate intentions are dishonourable, I do believe that he is dangerous because of the immensely powerful position Microsoft holds. Furthermore, I suspect that the people he has appointed to senior positions within Microsoft share his vision. As a result I really hope that the Department of Justice wins their antitrust court case against Microsoft, and that Microsoft is either broken up or has limits placed upon it which will prevent it from single-handedly controlling the development of the software, protocols and networks which will form the basis for the information age.

To be honest, the thought that Microsoft might be left intact or unfettered, to pursue its and Gates' goals, scares me. Not so much because their goal is a bad one, but because that, in achieving it, they could irrevocably stunt the development of the information age.

- The Dodger

Thanks, Dodger. An artful piece piece of writing. Please send your real name, shipping/mailing address, and t-shirt size to roblimo@nojunk.slashdot.org (minus the "nojunk") and we'll send you a Slashdot t-shirt from Copyleft, as we now do to all readers who contribute features or reviews.

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Slashdot Reader Analyzes BBC Interview With Bill Gates

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  • Thanks for agreeing with me ... since that's what I noted in a later post [slashdot.org] ... yes, if Bill wanted that money, it would practically disappear IMHO. :)
  • Back in 1989, when Windows looked like crap, and they had many competing GUI's (OS/2, DESQview, among many others!), MS hired the designers of the Mac GUI's look and feel to work on Windows 3.0's.

    Bear in mind that OS/2 was originally a joint IBM/Microsoft project.
  • i'm about as sick and tired as I can conceivably be without event of degenarative disease or death of all this let's just get along crap.

    If something is designed badly it sucks, if something is designed well, it rules. Very simple. Man this is like that color blind and sexless world crap where because color is an issue for some devolved individuals or because some sexist religions and societies exist a sexless colorless world is a better choice.

    Gates is not responsible for the proliferation of PC's. He's responsible for little beyond preventing others from getting involved. Just foollow the story of DirectX.

    In fact I'd say we'd be light years from where we are if it weren't for IBM's narrow Business Machines only vision, Apple's childish Jetsons futurism, Microsoft's out the door before it's born and functional approach, the commercial Unix wars happening every three days, and first posting.

    In fact I'd say there's quite a few devils on the loose.

    You may flame when ready... when I'm ready that is.


  • Not Hitler! Actually that sounds more like Dr. Strangelove, with his involuntary "Sig Heil"ing.

    Bill Gates is Dr. Strangelove, now the universe makes more sense!
  • So by your standards, Leonardo Da Vinci wasn't a genius. Picasso wasn't a genius. Buffet isn't a genius. Why do you equate genius with "Good at computers"? Gates was certainly, in the early 80s, and probably even today, much better with this whole IT business that all of us combined. Gates is undoubtedly one of the savviest business minds in the 20th century. Does that make him a genius in what he does best? If not, what constitutes genius?
  • He is a buisnessman genius, whether he can code is of small importance. It takes brains to play your cards right, otherwise we'd all be billionaires ;)
  • This is much too benign. To see Gates at face value is to swallow all the political hype we've learned to disregard over the years. There are so many variables here - how much coaching was allowed? What did Gates know in advance? How much did his spin doctors prepare him (as if they weren't involved and like _intensely_ all along)?

    Much too benign. Misguided?

    Balderdash!
  • Purity... Of.... Essence....

    Ever see a Commie drink water Mandrake?
  • Your post is informative but your conclucions are suspect. I quote: Bill Gates had many of the same aspirations we had when we were young.

    What a load!

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Considering Apple spend lots of time and money developing the Newton, without other handhelds available for them to "study", and beat everyone to the punch by releasing it first, is an innovation in my book. Sure, the idea wasn't new, but my definition of innovation includes more than just coming up with the concept.

    I was actually wrong about firewire, it was invented in 1986 as a SCSI replacement for the Mac. So it was more than 10 yers ago. Firewire was then submited to the IEEE as a standard in 1995, which it gave the "IEEE 1394" designation. Apple kept the Firewire(tm) name probably for marketing purposes.

    FYI, Quicktime is more than just a movie format. It's also an audio/video player, a picture viewer, a VR viewer(QTVR), a 3D API(QuickDraw 3D), windowing system(QuickDraw). It's a complete multimedia architecture(where do you think MS got the idea for DirectX?). Was there anything like that before 1992?
  • The Web was invented for very much the exact same reasons that Signal 11 cited for the Internet. Perhaps you should do a little more research into the origins of HTML and how Tim Berners-Lee first kicked off this whole fiasco.. If anything made anything else popular, the Web made the Internet popular. And yes, you're right, the media doesn't have a clue what the difference is.

    You'll notice that HTML is meant to "mark up" text, not define appearance. It wasn't originally intended for the masses. The original form, which was just about perfect for its original users, might have astounded you with its lack of utility with regards to modern "designers". And believe me, these guys weren't using Windows, either. Once again I defer to Signal 11's remarks on the subject..

  • Bill Gates is rich because he's a ruthless psychopath, totally unethical, and unwilling to let anyone who has something better than he has survive. And he has the power (massive paid-for public relations lies to dupe the public) and weapons (unfettered economic power over the entire PC computer industry) to force everyone involved in any business connected with the PC to do his bidding or die. If you are so impressed with money, then I imagine you also worship the lords of the drug cartels-- they too are obscenely rich, psychopathic, obsessively tyrannical, and greedy. Another common trait that Gates and the drug lords share, is that they are the very models of polite behavior when facing their "public". Gates steer the industry the way he sees fit? God help us all! What a complete clinical megalomaniac!
  • I watched Bill Gates in a discussion on German television last night and I really got to admit that he is a genius. Always listening more than saying, but giving the right answers if he is asked to. He might be "blinded" about how the Internet developed, but he got a big understanding of economy and how to lead a software company. And in the end who would not do the same thing if he was in Gates' position. The funniest about the interview was to watch someone speak to a bunch of managers and a politician who thinks he is so important and the camera is focused on Gates and the subtitle says "Bill Gates - Richest man of the world".

  • Again, that's just what he seems to think. The truth of the matter is, he's too powerful, and he's dangerous to America's economy. No one person should have so much wealth or power.

    Nobody.



    I agree. This analogy may be way off, but think of Hitler. He (single-handedly?) convinced an enormous group of people that he knew who deserved to live and he knew what the world should be like and proceeded from there. And look what he did.

    Now, I'm not saying that M$ is trying to kill everybody or take over the world... they're just trying to take over the computing world. And I don't like it. And I know that there are a great many other people in this world who don't like it. I realize that M$ has some decent stuff.. (I use Windows.. b/c, in my current circumstances, I must) - decent as in, it works, and it's not the end of the world - but they have by far NOT taken the world to where it is by themselves, nor do they know what's best, nor are they carrying the world today, nor should they, nor should they have complete say over the future of the world ("world" here meaning (1)the computing/computer/technology world, and (2) the physical world/Earth).


    I just hope the DoJ wins the anti-trust case and that M$ can be enlightened.
  • My guess is that he defends it at least partially because his wife had a major role in its development. If he admitted it was terrible, there might be some domestic discord in the household.

    On the other hand, there's always the Office talking paperclip. While most people seem to really hate the object that I immediately dubbed "The Paperclip Spy", I've actually met people who defend some of the other assistants, such as Einstein. Maybe this means the ideas behind the paperclip are better than any of us thought.

    Or maybe I just have deranged friends.

    Personally, all I notice is that the help I actually receive from the paperclip is worse than ever, and I take my anger out on the paperclip, not Microsoft. I have to assume this is exactly what MS wants, and is the real reason for the paperclip. "You know, Microsoft and Gates are OK, but gosh, this paperclip, it never tells me what to do!"

    D

    ----
  • "Since you are the richest guy on the planet and you know you can't live forever, have you considered investing heavily in medical science?

    Serious research in to cell reconstruction (anti-aging, you can't become younger) is hindered by lack of funding. Do you beleive this would be a worthwhile pursuit for mankind should you decide to bless some team of research medico's with a grant?"


    Now, let's see if Rob can organise a '20 questions' for the man to answer.
  • Not gonna let this one go ;-)

    The GUI and Mice, for instance, were developed back in the 60's AFAIK by individuals (their names escape me at the moment).

    ...who relocated to PARC soon after, and refined the technology while there. To that extent, they are PARC ideas. (I'm not at all sure, but I believe the mouse was a PARC invention, at least as a replacement for less useful pointer.)

    And the Alta and Star were not a 'limited implementations'. In many ways, they were (and in fewer ways, still are) superior to the MacOS (and Windows, and X...).
  • However, you miss something very key. Apple did not invent the GUI by any stretch of the imagination. They essentially stole it from Xerox PARC. Virtually all the important technologies we use today (GUIs, mice, Ethernet, laser printers, PostScript) were invented at Xerox's Palo Alto Research Center.

    That's why I originally said "we would still probably have some sort of GUI-based system today since concepts and even limited implementations were in place before the Mac was born"

    I didn't miss anything, I just wasn't specific. Not everything was developed at Xerox. The GUI and Mice, for instance, were developed back in the 60's AFAIK by individuals (their names escape me at the moment).
  • Will Gates be remembered as one of the Great Names of computer science? I like to think not. Cerf will be remembered in the future, probably more than he is now; perhaps Postel will be also; Torvalds and Stallman might; and so might Schneier (because I think cryptography is destined to become far more important in daily life than it is now). But Gates will be remembered only as a great businessman (along with Rockafeller). Or is that just me hoping?

    If you're going to count Torvalds and Stallman as being members of the "Great Names of Computer Science", it's hypocritical not to include Gates. Torvalds hasn't given much to Computer Science - neither has Stallman.

    In another response, you write that:
    "Torvalds did make a point about the efficiency of a monolithic kernel"

    Hell, *I* could have told you that a monolithic kernel was efficient - it's bleeding OBVIOUS. As for "and Stallman about the possibility of writing a reasonably efficient cross-platform C compiler"... what about Ron Cain? James Hendrix? Anders Hejlsberg? To be honest, a "Cross-platform C compiler" wasn't exactly new - people had been writing them for years, and more efficiently than Stallman (see HiSoft, for example).

    Tellya what... include Gates, and I'll let you include Torvalds and Stallman.

    Simon
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Before I start I would like to say a few things. I hate Bill Gates! The fact that i bought windows 4 times over the years when I purchase a new computer pisses me off to the extreme. But when I sit down and really think and try to not put any emotion into my thoughts I can picture an even worse world.


    I would of never thought of saying this a few years ago but we in general would all be paying more money for computers if it weren't or Bill Gates. THe computers would be expensive and proprietary ps/4 and ps/5 computers with hidden bios features with proprietary busses that linux couldnt run off of and the only alternative would be the mac.

    THis is what I believe what would of happened if it weren't for microsoft.


    Sure os/2 would be much better then NT but would it have a gui? I dont think so. Microsoft was the only company brave enough to write one and risk being sued by apple. Apple had some patents that the ms lawyers sleazed by them with tricky words and deceptions (its great what alot of money will buy these days). I bet os/2 would be in character mode and proprietary and would be quite different from os/2 warp. Remember it was Bill who was crazy all over IBM to include a gui. Linux might of never been born at all! os/2 was at least stable and you cold easily port unix shells to it.

    IF linux ever did come into existence it would be difficult to crack and write drivers for the proprietary bios and bus settings.

    SO what else might of happened if Bill never was born?
    hmm. Do you remember those g4 macs that were slowed down by 50mhz and still sold for the same price? Well, this is what probably over a 3rd of all linux users would of probably been using since apple is cheaper and faster. Remember that todays fast chips have been fueled by competition with OEMs. IF only BIM was around, they would re-engineer every motherboard and we would probably still be using p2 450's for $3,300 due to desing constrictions and lack of incentive to make better machines.


    Apple would be cheaper and we would all have to put up with another more friendlier monopolist. :-)

    We would also be using proprietary networks and oracle would of been gone and out of the picture by now and db2 would be king. With a more stable OS on every machine we would also see alot of unixes die off. I believe sun would still be around for higher tasks like today. I picture outrageously expensive computers, routers and software with proprietary ps/5's everywhere running only IBM software without linux or linux would be hell of alot smaller. Remember it was teh ms bahsers who blow linux out of proportions. I know the hard core hackers are non ms-biased. BUt ms haters really have supported linux. You have to admit this. THis is what I think about when BIll is not in the picture. I quiver when I think about this alternative universe.

    Sorry /.ers but I prefer bill's world. We all have linux right? As long as we keep linux then I dont care.



    THank you BIll for competition, open standards and linux. Strange!


    Weird but probably true. Just imagine the world. Remember IBM played nice for a litte while when clones appeared. IF it weren't for the clones it would of been alot nastier. I just think the world with IBM and apple only scares me half to death. At least we have semi-open hardware that we can write linux too.

    Tell me all what you think.
  • Thanks Bill Gates and Al Gore for bringing us the internet. End Sarcasm.
  • not really his net worth for sure, but definitly his "goal" of making things better :)
  • The Lisa was released in January of 1983, while windows 1.0 didnt come out until 1985 or so. The lisa came out before the mac but it basically had the same GUI as the first MAC. Lisa sold for 10 k and had the following specs announced 19 January 1983 for May delivery at $9,995 with 5 MB Apple ProFile hard drive; also available with 10 MB hard drive; discontinued April1985 CPU: 5 MHz 68000 ROM: 64KB RAM: 1 MB, expandable to 2 MB 12" b&w screen keyboard attached via coiled telephone-like cable mouse attached via DB-9 connector two DB-9 serial ports parallel printer port three expansion slots floppies: two 5.25" 860KB ultra-thin Twiggy drives. One more thing, Apple did not "steal" the Gui from xerox, they purchased it for several million shares of apple when it went public, which xerox made mucho dinero off of.
  • Well ;) You can snicker down at him and call him "The devil" but you have to admit, the guy is a genius. To have amassed such a fortune in so a short time is impressive. The guy has been in the right place at the right time for quite a while. Yeah it's scary that Microsoft controls as much of the market as it does, but it's still impressive.
  • To have amassed such a fortune in so a short time is impressive.

    Without trying to be snarky about it (honest), it's fair to point out that the same could reasonable said of Madonna.

  • But what does this mean if he were no longer able to be "custodian" to Microsoft? Would they simply cease? Or does he have enough "followers" to continue this practice of slash and burn?
  • The interview was very simple, no indepth questioning. I sent the BBC some questions to make Bill squirm like :-

    What do you say to the accusation that the timing
    of your donations to charity has been driven by the ongoing DOJ (Department of Justice) trial?

    You talk in your recent book Business at the Speed
    of Thought that you have a huge amount of business information at your fingertips, yet one of the Microsoft witmesses, Richard Schmalensee claimed that you didnt, that is was all done on bits of paper, so who is being truthful and who is lying?

    ... and many more, Paxman can make people sweat with the right info, but he was just fauning over Bill being very light handed, I was really disappointed he could have had a field day. As for how Bill came off in the interview, like a spokeperson for MS, not much else, the only interesting line of questioning was when Paxman asked about "The Road Ahead", but completely missed the fact that it had to be revised for the second edition as in the first Bill talked about CDROMs, and played down the Net. All in all I think the BBC need someone who can brief interviewers on the industry so that they can go in and ask all the difficult questions, otherwise we will just have to wait for the DOJ / Caldera etc to ask the questions in court.
  • We all know that the most successful CEOs are very good on the hot seat. I don't believe that Bill Gates came into $100 Billion (US) in the last 15 years or so by being a relatively nice guy who doesn't care much about money or power.

    I think he's done an excellent job of maintaining Microsoft as being the head of the pack in some areas (Windows has been very successful in its own right, not just because of monopoly). I think however, that he makes people believe what you've taken away from it so that he doesn't get slammed for being so powerful.

    There are two ways to be powerful; Donald Trump and the Mafia ... one builds huge towers so everyone knows he's got money, the other silently kills off competitors but acts like a really nice guy in public.

    I'd put Bill Gates in the second category.

    But hey, to each their own ... he's not evil necessarily, just not quite the angel this article makes him out to be.

    - Not "misguided", "misguiding" ...
  • by Aighearach ( 97333 ) on Sunday October 17, 1999 @04:12PM (#1606669) Homepage

    I think you are misinterpreting the meaning of "evil." I propose that nearly all people that we would consider evil do not consider themselves as such. Rather, they consider themselves misunderstood.

    Lets examine the extreme case: Did Hitler see himself as evil? Did he think he was causing great harm to humanity? Or did he feel that he was greatly benefitting those most in need of his services? I would guess the latter.

    What about the Christians who suppressed Science and Knowledge in Europe for over a millennia? Did they feel that they were doing humanity a service? I think the vast majority of them believed strongly in the righteousness of their actions.

    What does this mean? Evil can only be considered objectively if it's a measure of actions. When evil is used to measure intentionality, it merely means "on the other team."

    So is Bill Gates evil? That depends upon his effect. Is he a + or a - to humanity?

    I vote -.

  • Whether Mr. Gates is responsible for the proliferation of the PC is undisputed...

    I'll dispute that. PC's would have proliferated at the same rate, regardless of the presence or absence of one William Gates III. The difference would have been, we would have been roughly 8-9 years further advanced in software without him. Think about it. Right now, with Linux, we are just about finished building a system that already existed at Xerox Palo Alto research center in the late 70's. Complete with solid file system and virtual memory handling system like that perfected by IBM considerably earlier. This work should have been ported to PC's by the end of the 80's - instead, Bill took over the ball game and everything degenerated into a big control game, instead of getting on with making software as good as it can be. Turns out, Bill's team just couldn't go the distance - what with internal politics, and keeping various barbarians at bay - and dropped the ball. Meaning we unwashed hordes had to pick it up... and... scuse me, this sports metaphor is starting to get lame. In simple terms, we had to rebuild everything from scratch, do 9 years of work all over again, just so we could do it right, make it open, and have a solid base from which to attack the real issues of what computers are capable of. That was unnecessary. Thanks for nothing, Bill.
  • Netscape forgot that diplomacy is the art of saying 'Nice doggy!' while carrying a big stick. I really think they would have gotten a lot farther if they had kept a low profile, and subtly started adding things such as Java, without the "We're gonna squash Microsoft like the bug that they are!" fanfare. Instead of sneaking past the sleeping giant, they woke him up...

    --synaptik
  • just that he has this perception of himself as someone who can change things for the better.

    he is *trying* but I think in a futile attempt. Look at the rescent article about Activisions opening up their source to a group of programmers so that they could improve on it. Their *own* programmers didn't do a great job, and outsiders were able to improve on it. Microsoft really needs to move into the Open Source movement and allow other people to improve it. It isn't going to get better until he realizes that Open Source isn't communism and will help his financial situation...

    Just my worthless .02
  • Sorry, the stats I had were from ZdTV. (Why did I trust them..?)
  • That's absolutely right. Programming feats attributed to Gates are fake. And he didn't build the billion dollar empire from nothing. (Started with a few million (from his parents), went broke, got millions more from his parents and got wealthy.)
  • I still have my GEOS 5 1/4 disks dated from 1986, by Berkeley Softworks.

    GEOS was a remarkable Operating System, considering that it was written for an 8-bit machine with 64KB of RAM.

    Some features of GEOS were drag-and-drop, cut-and-paste, memory managment which allowed programs to swap memory to disk, support for many IO devices, such as mice, light-pens.. printers..etc..
    Later version even supported hard-drives, and task switching..

    Screenshots of the GUI can be found at: http://www.zimmers.net/geos/

    The Operating System was ususaly bundled with each Commodore 64 system sold, just like these days, Windows is bundled with every PC sold...

    Bill Gates didn't inovate anything new at all..
  • With Ati-Vec.. ehh, "velocity engine" Dragon should port to the Mac. It would follow Apple's goals, and the CPU is perfect for it. Dragon now supports KMI SIMDs, which improve performance by a great deal (supposedly). The Alti-Vec instructions are far superior, and are not just marketting ploys. With them, and the far better quality of the PowerPC design, I'm sure a speech recognition program would be superb.

    ... course, a lot of us don't have Macs and want to use another OS anyways.
  • I'm a Jew and I love a good Jewish joke. My dad's a lawyer and he not only loves lawyer jokes, but tells them to everyone else.

    If Bill Gates hasn't heard a Bill Gates joke, he's out of touch with reality. Primitive tribesmen in darkest Africa who have never had any contact with modern civilization know Bill Gates jokes (although probably not very good ones, I'll grant)

    Anyway, here's a good one I saw on /. a couple months ago:
    Richard M. Stallman, Linus Torvalds, and Donald E. Knuth engage in a discussion on who was the best programmer.

    Stallman: "God told me I have programmed the best editor in the world!"

    Torvalds: "Well, God told *me* that I have programmed the best kernel in the world!"

    Knuth: "Wait, wait - I never said that."
  • I've been out of University for 25 years now. How about you?

    You accurately describe the state of business today. I'm incredulous you consider that state of affairs ideal. Look around you, there are six billion people and more on the way. There aren't enough resources for everyone to have the lifestyle we currently enjoy in the U.S. Either you better get used to war, reduced life style, or a more efficient style of production. One that maximizes quality and quantity of output, not personal wealth and corporate power.

    "It is mankinds nature to compete until the compitition is extinct."

    And there you stand on a planet swept clean of life. What a vision. You won! Congratulations.
  • I'm not a fan of World Domination by anyone, Linux included. Yes, products that no one uses will die. That's quite different from sabotoging them and muscling them away from the distributors.

    Microsoft is more like a mass extinction than a competing predator anyway. And it didn't claw its way to the top for survival. I imagine Bill could somehow limp along if he only had a few billion instead of hundreds.

    While that behavior may be tolerable in animals, I find it a little short of what I expect from humans. Businesses are *NOT* creatures with desires, goals, and instincts of their own and with a right to survival at any cost. They are supposed to be voluntary organizations of humans for their and society's mutual benefit. Their genes do not force them to dominate by screwing customers, they *choose* to do that. It sure *ain't* pretty when major world corporations act like 14 yr old males showing off.

    If you want to think that the prisoner's dilemna means cooperation in business is impossible, you may. I don't wish to view the world that darkly. We haven't learned the trick yet, but the cooperation stemming from open source is the best hope I see today.

    Life isn't about smashing everyone around you down so you can stand on top. There doesn't *have* to *be* just *one* top. It doesn't have to be a rat race.
  • Very good point. I believe the two characters are very similar, too. The Gates = Reardon similarity has obviously been noticed by a lot of people, not only the Objectivist bunch (who have a well-known Microsoft defense site [aynrand.org] , BTW).

    Specifically Microsofties(what people who work at Microsoft call themselves) seem to allude to the connection a lot, I believe the new company of one of the original founders of WebTV (acquired by Microsoft) is named "Reardon Steel".
  • by spectecjr ( 31235 ) on Sunday October 17, 1999 @04:28PM (#1606720) Homepage
    Wow. After reading this, I wish there was an "Out of his gourd" option on the moderation box.
  • Well, there's certainly something afoot otherwise why else would Bill Gates bother to talk to a politician? Certainly not to pick up typing skills.

    However, you can't uproot a skilled workforce in any significant numbers without severe lossage, regardless of what you pay them, so I doubt that he would even consider moving the existing HQ elsewhere.

    However, there is a related possibility that ties in quite nicely with a few other problems that plague him. If he were to set up a brand new cryptographic division in the UK then he'd get out from under the daft US regulations in that area.

    He must know that security and thus strong encryption will be absolutely fundamental and huge on the Internet as soon as e-commerce hits the exponential ramp, yet he's prevented from offering killer products in that area to the world from the US at the present time. That must really piss him off because *now* is the time to establish a massive mindshare in that future commercial environment.

    So, setting up a cryptographic R&D + development operation in the UK would allow him to thumb his nose at the crypto dinosaurs barring his way, gain him extra technical staff in a key area, and simultaneously send a message of some sort to the Dept of Justice.

    Three birds with one stone?

    [And Microsoft would almost certainly get both political and financial support from the UK government for that, because our politicians don't have the vision and knowledge in that sphere to see beyond an offer of investment and recognize a flawed infrastructure when they see one, let alone understand the more subtle dangers of a single-solution mindset for their people.]
  • by mwillis ( 21215 ) on Sunday October 17, 1999 @09:12PM (#1606725) Homepage
    I agree. This analogy may be way off, but think of Hitler. He (single-handedly?) convinced an enormous group of people that he knew who deserved to live and he knew what the world should be like and proceeded from there. And look what he did.

    I don't particularly like Bill Gates but you do advocacy a bad name when you compare a dislikable businessman to an evil madman like Hitler. Bill Gates' megalomania never killed anybody. Hitler got his jollies killing millions of people, soldiers and civilians alike. Think about that. Seriously.

    As a Linux advocate, I think this kind of comparison harms to the credibility of the cause. Would you trust the judgement of someone who confuses a mass murderer with a marketer of inferior products? Be aware that comparing to Hitler isn't particularly novel either. It's been done. By Godwin's law [tuxedo.org], invoking a comparison to Hitler means that you have run out of ideas and that you lose the argument immediately.
  • Windows NT Server:

    $627.00


    Site License for same:

    $20,000+


    Knowing your file and print services are safely and anonymously run on Debian 2.0:

    Priceless.

  • I saw this interview too. It was deadly boring.

    Gates came across as 'nice' but self-obsessed. He gladly accepted all credit for creating the internet, and was happy to talk for the whole computer industry - rather than just Micro$oft.

    Paxman really chickened out of the meaty stuff - he almost seemed 'awe-inspired' by Bill - like he'd never spoken to anyone important before. He was definitely put-off by the fact that he was talking to the richest man in the world. Now if he'd been a politician...

    Only Paxman mentioned Dr Linus, Bill didn't mention Linux once, in fact, he talked endlessly about Microsoft having loads of competition - but he couldn't name any contenders.

    Most of the interview was about Bill being a 'visionary' from birth to current day. They ended the interview talking about where Microsoft would take the world of computers in the future.
  • by Oms ( 16745 ) on Sunday October 17, 1999 @10:35PM (#1606756)
    What I found even more scarier is:


    I don't blame Gates for his actions or the actions of his company. I think his intentions, deep down, are good. But I think that he may suffer from some psychological condition which blinds him to the fact that he doesn't have the right to disregard others just because he thinks he knows best. I suspect that he may believe that the end justifies the means.


    That sounds just like some people we have come to know very well here in Russia... the Communists. Psychological condition indeed. Thank God the guy is "only" into software, otherwise the whole staff of Netscape would be cutting down trees in some forced-labour camp in Northern Alaska right now.

    No, really, I'm serious. Bill and the Commies: while they may adhere to vastly different beliefs, the mindset is identical. We know what's right, we know what's best, everyone else is misguided and must be repressed at all costs so as not to threaten The Vision. Compare, e.g., "Worldwide Communist Revolution" and "Windows Everywhere"... Same goes for the Nazies, I suppose, though quite fortunately I don't have personal experience with that particular bunch.

    I find it pretty ironic that Open Source (and especially RMS) are referred to as Communist in some particularly unpleasant mainstream editorials, when in reality the other way around is much, much closer to the truth.

    Oh well. The Commies didn't last that long. At the rate the industry is moving, M$ has a few years left, at best. Bill can always move to North Korea afterwards...
  • > Sure, another company could have done it, but they didn't - MS did.

    I disagree. I think it was the IBM brand name that opened the doors to the use of PCs in businesses. This was back when no one got shot for buying IBM. That little sticker told purchasing agents that these were real computers, not just toys.

    Of course, commodity hardware helped a lot, especially after Apple came out with a far superior product. But by the time commodity hardware came out PCs were already moving into business environments. The doors were open and we were on the road to today's arrangement.

    The only free variable was what quality of software the machines would run, and of course MS can claim as much of the blame for that as they care to.

    --
    It's October 6th. Where's W2K? Over the horizon again, eh?
  • I've been following discussions about Microsoft, Linux, OSS (insert other OS advocacy subject here) over the last couple of months, and the intelligent comments seem to have almost disappeared to be replaced by an almost religious banter.

    The latest moronic discussion about Microsoft and Linux is about this particular interview with Bill Gates. Some unknown reader writes an analysis about Bill Gates from a fairly short interview, and the discussions flow in. There is no basis at all for this interview, and without even talking to the person, the reader decides that Bill Gates is dangerous, a threat to modern society, and is trying to rule the world A La Evil Genius.

    I then read comment, and many (not all) readers decide that the article makes sense.

    Earlier, a well known, respected consulting group who's been around the computer industry for many, many years talks to a slew of other major players in the industry (including Microsoft, IBM, Sun, and HP), and they decide to present an analysis of the Linux market. They decide that Linux isn't bad, but it isn't perfect for all situations.

    As expected, they are completely discredited by many /. readers. It doesn't matter that they've collected huge amounts of data, talked with various people from both sides of the issue, and come up with an unbiased report. If it's MS it's bad, if it's Linux it's good.

    Most /. readers claim to be intelligent and open minded. Try proving it by presenting valid arguments instead of continually bashing anyone who says something good about MS, or something bad about Linux.

    bh

    "Know the facts before distorting them"
    - Ernest Hemmingway
  • From the posted article: "I think Gates believes that he and Microsoft have, almost single-handedly, advanced the human race to the brink of the information age..."

    [shiver] When I read this, just now, the hair actually atood up on the back of my neck and I got a little twitch trying to justify Mr. Gates Logic. {/shiver]

  • Heap the blame on politicians, all of it.

    They sense a weakness in people like a shark senses blood in the water, and they are every bit as amoral as sharks as they tear their people's better values and dignity to shreds in the quest for support and power.

    The caring politician is a creature out of myth. If you are the former then you'll never make it as the latter.

    It sounds bleak, but sadly that's the state of the world at present, and it'll remain so for as long as our dependency on material resources gives power to those who can muster control over material resourcing. Fortunately, that won't be forever.
  • Interestingly enough, I think that if Bill Gates ever wanted to get his hands on a few billion of those dollars he has tied up in shares, the value of MS common stock would plummet and he'd only be worth 10 billion instead of 100 overnight :).

    <disclaimer>
    This comment contains forward-looking statements. These should not be used to base your purchase of ... oh, never mind.
    >/disclaimer>
  • by cdlu ( 65838 ) on Sunday October 17, 1999 @01:11PM (#1606780) Homepage
    That's an eye-opener of an article. It makes me wonder, we have interviewed so many other people on slashdot - would it be possible to send a list of questions to Bill Gates that we would like answers to? Among them could be the points listed in this article that were omitted, but perhaps we could all learn a lot about who he really is if we actually got to interact with him as group.
  • by freakho ( 28342 ) on Sunday October 17, 1999 @01:12PM (#1606792) Homepage
    Ok, what? How can he not be power-hungry and at the same time think he's the most special person in the world, who "single-handedly advanced the human race" into the info age? The difference between thirsting for power and thinking you're entitled to it, all of it, by merit of your own superior worth is a very fine line.

    fh
  • by Tet ( 2721 ) <slashdot@NosPaM.astradyne.co.uk> on Sunday October 17, 1999 @01:13PM (#1606795) Homepage Journal
    I was disappointed by Paxman, though. He has the ability to be much more direct, as witnessed by some of his political interviewing. I felt he didn't really push gates on any of the meaningful issues. I felt Gates did come across as being very much blinded to real world. How can he realistically claim to have never heard a Bill Gates joke? He seems to believe that since MS have a lot of clever people working for them (which they undoubtedly do) that MS are the only people that are capable of doing clever stuff with computers. He repeatedly stressed that MS products are always as good as they can make them (worrying, if true), even to the point of defending Microsoft Bob. And he keeps trying to claim that MS helped create the Internet. Sigh.

    Is he evil? No. Is he misguided? Yes, I think so. He can't see past his own technological vision, and doesn't seem to accept that others may want things to work differently. With the amount of power he wields in the industry, that's definitely something to worry about.

  • by Foogle ( 35117 ) on Sunday October 17, 1999 @01:13PM (#1606796) Homepage
    This post mentions that Bill Gates seems to think that MS is reponsible for the sucess of the personal computer. I've heard many times here at Slashdot (mostly in reference to the Mac and Windows) about how MS didn't do anything of the sort, and this article tends to enforce that point. People argue that everything that happened with PCs would have occured anyway, and that MS just got lucky. Or that MS just stood on the backs of others.

    Some of this is justifiably true. In fact, the industry would still have flourished if MS didn't exist. The time had come for the PC revolution. However, I think MS does deserve some credit. Their marketing and programming helped to get PCs on the desks of every employee in most companies. Sure, another company could have done it, but they didn't - MS did. I think it would behoove us to recognize Microsoft's place in the history of desktop computing as being beneficial. Sure, Windows isn't the greatest platform in the world, but it beats the hell out of nothing. Of course Linux kicks the shit out of nothing, but that's another story altogether.

    Flame me now if you want, but all this anti-microsoft stuff just gets under my skin.

    -----------

    "You can't shake the Devil's hand and say you're only kidding."

  • Newton.. hmm kinda an obvious step really there was alot of talk about developing handhelds like the newton, just apple beat them to the punch. Quicktime?? I could be wrong, but I swear there where other computer movie formats before quicktime, but still fairly obvious. Firewire, good idea not enough marketting, though I'm honestly not sure which came first, firewire, or USB. I would have naturally said firewire, but the other day I saw a guys old 486 that came with USB frainkly quite scared me, not exactly sure how old it is, but its an IBM branded computer. (Though in all honesty I'm more impressed with Firewire than USB, but the best technology doesn't always win.)

  • You could be right - perhaps I am reading too much into a short interview, but please bear in mind that this interview has merely provided the icing on the cake - I've been following Microsoft and Bill Gates for years now. It was seeing the man himself being quizzed by an experienced interviewer, and witnessing his reactions to various questions and the answers he (as opposed to the Microsoft PR department) gave to those questions.

    Now, admittedly, he could be pulling the wool over all our eyes (myself included), but I doubt it. He has no need to stick to the "party line", because he effectively is the party; he runs Microsoft, pretty much single-handedly, I suspect.

    The interview was a bunch of practiced answers to questions he has been asked before, nothing more

    I don't completely agree. I think that, whilst a lot of the questions were ones he's been asked dozens of times before, some of them really made him stop and think.

    In any case, whether his answers were practised or not, they still give an insight into the man and his motivations. I pride myself on my ability to judge people - to figure out what sort of person they are, where they're coming from, etc. - within a very short space of time after meeting them. Now, obviously, I've not met Gates, but watching this interview was as close as I'm likely to get to him.

    Like I said, these are my opinions and impressions. Your mileage may vary. If nothing else, I hope they provide food for thought to other people out there who are trying to figure out why Gates and Microsoft do the things they do.

    D.

  • I guess this falls into the "if you're so smart, how come you're not rich" department.

    I think there's no question that Bill is highly intelligent, probably genius level. It so happens I know lots of people who probably qualify as geniuses, and quite a few that I'd probably rate substantially higher WG in terms of raw intelligence. However, they'll never get rich like Gates, for three reasons.

    (1) Luck (which favors the prepared mind of course).

    (2) Timing (getting in on the ground floor of the most significant new industry the half century is a proven winner -- look at H. Hughes).

    (3) An interest and talent in business matters. Everyone likes money, many people are willing to toil for it, but not everybody is willing to let it take up so much of their intellectual bandwith.

    (4) A willingness to use the above in ways the average person's scruples would disallow.

    This last point is what really separates Gates from the run of the mill genius. If you look at the history of MS all the way back to licensing MS-DOS to IBM, you see a willingness to strike a deal with strategic "partners" which looks on the surface to be mutualy beneficial but is really a deadly thrust against the partner's interests. Of course, this is good old capitalism, red in tooth and nail, and looking at it in that way Gates is merely being an astute businesman. It's not immoral if everyone understands those are the rules of the game, merely despicable.

    Most highly intelligent people I know are either gentle and generous souls, or are strongly motivated by intellectual challenge and expect (and receive) generous compensation as their due. It takes a rare quality of character to shake a mans hand with your right while concealing a sharp knife in your left.

  • ...of the real world.

    First he says (in the article, not the analysis, he is billg)

    Gates claims that his business is "not like owning a newspaper. Someone who owns a newspaper can pick up the phone to the editor and say 'run headlines I like'."

    No, websites are nothing like newspapers, no one could possibly have up to the second editorial control. hmmm.

    ..and..

    The next stage technologically is accessing the Internet through the television and the telephone, says Mr Gates.

    umm, no comment...

    ..and..

    ..the world's richest man describes his meeting with Prime Minister Tony Blair as "neat", /snip/ and claims never to have heard a Bill Gates joke.

    ..and..

    Gates also denies there is a key to his software programmes held by the security services of the US Government.

    ...but at least he got one right...

    Bill Gates, the world's first $100bn man, admits his company Microsoft will one day be replaced.

    /end knee-jerk analysis


  • Will Gates be remembered as one of the Great Names of computer science? I like to think not. [...] Gates will be remembered only as a great businessman...

    I don't think Gates wants to be remembered as a great businessman. I think he will want to be remembered in the same way as we remember great scientists like Einstein and Marie Curie - people who made a difference in terms of the way we live our lives.

    I'll bet that Bill Gates wants the memory of his name to be synonomous with the shift from the industrial or consumer age, to the information age.

    D.

  • by bgarland ( 10594 ) on Sunday October 17, 1999 @01:15PM (#1606816) Homepage
    This is NOT meant as flamebait...

    But I firmly believe that had Apple not introduced the world to Macintosh, computers would be much harder to use. Gates has got to give them some credit.

    Had the Mac never existed, we would still probably have some sort of GUI-based system today since the concepts and even limited implementations were in place before the Mac was born, but I guarantee you it wouldn't be like what we see today in Mac OS, Windows, KDE/Gnome, BeOS, etc.

    Even Windows users need to recognize the importance that Apple holds in the marketplace. You might not agree with Apple's business practices, the limited customizability of Macintosh hardware, or the lack of choice when it comes to running a Mac OS-based system, and that's fine. I'm not going to argue with you there, and I'm a die-hard Mac user (though I know my Linux too!). Wishing Apple would go away is another thing entirely.

    What EVERYONE must realize is the extreme importance that Apple still holds EVEN TODAY. Think about it. They are Windows' ONLY competition when it comes to an easy to use GUI-based Operating System experience.

    Do you really think Windows 95/98 would be as good (a subjective term of course) as it is today had Apple not survived to offer them some real competition?

    Even with the recent screwups that Apple has had, such as the G4 delays, the Apple Store order fiasco, etc the future looks bright. Apple is finally back on their feet and at the forefront of new technologies (ie. Firewire/1394) producing some kick ass new equipment.

    So next time you see Bill Gates talking about how Microsoft is changing the world, remember who he is following.

    "Where do you want to go today?" -- Microsoft

    "Where are we going tomorrow?" -- Apple


    Ben
  • by Signal 11 ( 7608 ) on Sunday October 17, 1999 @01:18PM (#1606825)
    At the risk of offending a great many slashdot readers, I believe Mr. Gates appears to think alot like Linus, modulo the coding background and some other bits. He doesn't see any competition. Neither does Linus (for different reasons! *g*). He views his OS as a tool... and as such with both limitations and advantages. Linus too recognizes the pros and cons of linux. The "My-OS-is-better-than-your-OS" mentality usually comes from less-educated computer users. NT may be buggy, but it has it's uses - and no OS is unilaterally better than another. We might dispute the Mindcraft results, but we can't ignore them.

    Whether Mr. Gates is responsible for the proliferation of the PC is undisputed... but I have a bone to pick with the contention that he allowed the internet to go where it has. For one, Al Gore claimed that first, and for two the internet came about on UN*X mainframes in an academic setting - and had nothing to do with PCs. I don't think "e-commerce" would be around without the PC, but that wasn't the reason the internet was invented, contrary to commercial dogma. The reason it was invented was primarily so professors and such could exchange ideas and papers and such between each other.

    Of course, I might be wrong.. so read the comments attached to this post as well! :^)

    --


  • The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

    A quote which I should have included in my article. I agree completely. However, there is an extra factor here, in that the good intentions come with a fair amount of arrogance.

    D.

  • Right from all the childhood stories to his interview yesterday on the German TV (i didn't watch the bbc interview), i think there is one single line of thought that runs behind his actions: his absolute beief in capitalism. Read his open letter to the fellow hackers while in college explaining how sharing of code fails to reward the coder and will eventually lead to poor quality of code.
    well, that concept might have been proved incorrect, but he believes that every company has the right to take all the necessary steps to crush competetion and this system leads to an efficient market. like the 'adam smith's invisible hand'
    ...and he works on that principle.
  • Yeah, but I'm left to wonder what other "brinks" he has brought us to as well... the brink of insanity perhaps?

    --
  • Microsoft is one of the most commercially influential software companies around today. But Gates is right: Microsoft will eventually be replaced. Back in the days of big iron, IBM was the boss, and nobody really thought that they would ever be replaced. But they have, at least in terms of their hegemony. This is because the game has changed. It changed from big iron to the PC. Now the game is changing again from the PC to anything that starts with "e-". Gates knows this; and that's why they went balls-out on the Internet. But they've lost ground. And the game continues to change. Right now, we're changing the game. Open source, free software, whatever flag you want to wave, is starting to change the economics on the bottom.

    My guess is that Gates is well aware of what is going on, but because it is so fundamentally different from everything that Microsoft was built on, he won't have a way to counter it. They're fighting on multiple fronts, and eventually, they will lose their grip. At that point, somebody else will notice that the game has changed, and microsoft will be replaced.

    It might not happen today, or tomorrow, but within a matter of a few decades, Microsoft will be just another brick in the wall. Look at IBM today. I've seen numerous Slashdot stories and posts from readers who openly support IBM and their new business strategy. It may be hard for some to really imagine, but people such as ourselves might be saying the same sort of thing about the Microsoft many of us not villify.
  • As much as I enjoyed the interview, Paxman didn't have the technical knowledge to ask the questions I wanted answering. However, another approach may have yielded more interesting results. The BBC run a great program called 'In the Psychiatrist's Chair [bbc.co.uk]' using an interviewer called Professor Anthony Clare. He could have taken a more personal approach, and instead of asking 'Do you really earn this much money' - could have been asking 'why he feels the need to be some awesomely sucessful' etc. Next time I hope the BBC producers are more imaginative.
  • by David A. Madore ( 30444 ) on Sunday October 17, 1999 @01:24PM (#1606856) Homepage
    I agree. Bill Gates is full of good intentions. Only, as we well know, ``the road to hell is paved with good intentions''.

    He has a relatively good idea of what can be done with a computer; only he is obviously clueless as to how things can be done.

    He perceives the existence of the Internet Revolution, a phenomenon that is probably just starting, and he rightly knows that many client computers (as opposed to servers) are running Windows; by a considerably fallacious syllogism he concludes that Windows is somehow responsible for the revolution. I am (as most slashdot readers, I suppose) persuaded that the revolution would not have taken place any slower had it not been for Windows. (Hope I put the right number of negatives in the previous sentence ;-) I also think it would not have happened any slower, though - I think it's a sort of ``psychohistorical'' necessity that cannot be slowed or hastened without great effort.

    Will Gates be remembered as one of the Great Names of computer science? I like to think not. Cerf will be remembered in the future, probably more than he is now; perhaps Postel will be also; Torvalds and Stallman might; and so might Schneier (because I think cryptography is destined to become far more important in daily life than it is now). But Gates will be remembered only as a great businessman (along with Rockafeller). Or is that just me hoping?
  • While I compliment the author on his deep insight, I think he is reading a bit too much into very short interview. Bill G said the same things that you could get from the MS PR dept. He may not even believe half the things he says, (just like any polititcian), but he sticks to the party line. What is the harm in claiming the MS made the internet into what it is today? Sure, nobody with a clue believes it; but the interview isn't targeted to people that would know that, and you can be sure that the BBC isn't going to air something later that points out how stupid his answers were. The interview was a bunch of practiced answers to questions he has been asked before, nothing more.
  • Of course he belives that. He has every right to claim that. For better or worse, MS did bring computing to the masses. Something that Unix vendors were unable to do for almost 20 years.

    Unix were unable to bring computing to the masses for about the same reason that the Ford Motor Company was unable to bring computing to the masses: neither body thought that it was their problem. And in both cases, they were right.

    Back in the day, when the 8-bits were ruling the home computing world (Commodore Vic-20/C-64, Atari 4/800, Apple ][), IBM brought something resembling a real machine to a price where you could put it on your desktop. The real innovation was the actual PC hardware, the BIOS, the 8-bit bus and 16-bit processor.

    Gates' contribution to this was to "sell" IBM a kludgy old CP/M clone of an OS to run on it.

    What would have happened if Gates never showed up? IBM would have found, or built, another OS. Remember, this was the day when the OS was a BASIC interpreter hardcoded into ROM. It would have worked.

    What would have happened if IBM never tried a PC platform? Popular 16-bit desktop computing would be seriously delayed. Maybe the Amiga would be the machine of choice. Maybe Apple would have made the Macintosh without the PC to spurn them on. I'm not saying that we'd be stuck with 8-bits today (I seriously doubt that), but Microsoft merely went along for the ride at the beginning.

    What has Microsoft brought to the masses? Not innovation, but standardization. He helps you go through the vast array of choices: why look at all those word processors, when Microsoft sells one?

    Standardization is a Good Thing in a lot of ways, but has dangers associated with it. Standardizing on mediocrity prevents you from improving. IMHO, the price for Microsoft's standardization is horrible--that is, it literally evokes horror.

  • by mhouston ( 103713 ) on Sunday October 17, 1999 @01:30PM (#1606877) Homepage
    For those who do not get to see UK Television Jeremy Paxman has a fearsome reputation for making politicians squirm.

    What was completley missing from the Bill Gates interview was any element of cross-examination. Take the DOJ case against Microsoft, something hugley important in that it's very prescence has enabled many companies to support alternatives to Microsoft when before they would have dared not.

    Bill was allowed to simply brush this off. A politician would never have been allowed to get away with that!

    Much was made of the 'promise' that Bill is going to give away his billions but there was no though given to how decisions about what projects in what countries are going to benefit. As any politician knows promises of 'aid' are a powerful bargining tool. Decinding how billions are to be spent gives a terrifying amount of power in the hands of one man. Even if Bill Gates started out as a nice guy I think we will all find the truth of the old saying: "Power Corrupts, Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutley"

  • by giggab00 ( 93602 )
    When we talk of the evil of Microsoft and how it's the spawn of Bill Gates', it isn't, well, very satisfying. I think, the root of the problem is, aye, the stockholders and the investing sharks. Think about it. Prior to the company going public and performed the greatest act of ballooning up to a giant hot dog, it was actually doing something, er, good for the PC community. One could see how this could and probably is the case of it getting to the collective giant heads of Gates and co. However Gates' ambitions are placed, Microsoft's prime objective now is not that of furthering technology, but to make money for the share holders. This scenario always happens, it is the way, it is the American Way (tm).


    P.S. In a rush, but you get my drift? Well I hope so.
  • Bill Gates is worth 100 billion. Not paid $100 billion. He's not paid even $5 billion. CEO salaries are absurd these days, but they don't reach beyond the 100's of millions, even including stock options etc etc.

    But Gates is worth $100 billion because he founded MS and was therefore the (or one of the, Allen was there too) controlling shareholder. So you shouldn't be surprised that if his company has grown into that kind of behemoth he's worth that much. But he was never paid the vast majority of it.
  • Plug-and-Play is easy to talk about when you make 90% of the peripherals for your platform.

    Euro-Din connectors are nice, but hardly an innovation.
  • Torvalds and Stallman aren't exactly great names of computer science you know. They didn't come up with anything new and amazing - except stallman for the new open source model which isn't really a computer science thing more than a business thing.
  • Netscape went out of business? That's strange. I thought Navigator 5.0 was coming out.

    AOL didn't buy Netscape for Navigator...AOL bought Netscape for Netcenter. The fact that Navigator development has slowed to a crawl should actually illustrate the point that Netscape is done...


  • Whether Mr. Gates is responsible for the proliferation of the PC is undisputed

    Nonsense. The only reason Billy-Boy is where he is today is that Gary Kildall decided to take a plane ride rather than meet with some suits from Armonk.

    IBM was the driving force for the wide-spread adoption of the PC. Period. Bill just went along for the ride. In fact at Microsoft they used to call it 'riding the bear', that is getting up on the back of IBM and trying to hang on.

    As far as the Internet goes, that was and is self-feeding. As soon as the early browsers came out in the fall of 1994 the web started growing at rates of 100% per day. In a space of 3 months the web went from 100 pages to 4 million pages. Where was Microsoft during this? Nowhere.

    Microsoft never innovated anything important and NEVER will They are a drag on the whole computer industry and need to be broken up to give innovators a chance to realize the true potential of computers.

    The fact of the matter is that truly revolutionary ideas initially mask themselves as a better form of something else. Computers are now being used as a better form of paper. This is just the very beginning. Ultimately truly great inventions (automobile, printing press, etc.) alter the way we live in the most profound manner in ways taht are initially impossible to predict. I believe that Microsoft, by virtue of it's lack of innovating capability and it's monopoly power is a serious impediment to the full realization of the invention of the computer.

    The REAL computer revolution has yet to occur.

  • by Morgaine ( 4316 ) on Sunday October 17, 1999 @01:58PM (#1606920)
    I'm afraid we couldn't really expect any better from Jeremy Paxman, he's just not technical enough, and you could see him not wanting to push certain subjects because it might take him outside his area of competence. We did learn that Paxman can with great authority state that Gates earns a lot of money ... we had that point thrust home again and again, ad nauseum.

    I *was* slightly impressed that Paxman managed to say "Linus Torvalds" and "free software" without sneering. (Sneering is his forte.) And Gates responded very well, not by denigrating free software but simply by making the point that Microsoft is in the business of making money, so "free" wasn't relevant. [No, there's no way in which Paxman could have brought up the other meaning of "free". Wrong planet altogether.]

    Bill Gates certainly came across as genuine. He even corrected Paxman's assertion that Microsoft was responsible for 90% of Internet machinery, clarifying that it was 90% only of the client side.

    I agree that Gates thinks that he and Microsoft have taken the world into the information age almost single-handedly. While we know that that isn't anywhere near to being The Truth or even being representative, for people without our exposure to the history of the Internet and a wider view of computing then his arguments must seem very strong, at least statistically.

    My take on BG is that maybe he's suffering from the worm's eye effect: he's so close to the ground in Microsoft that maybe he genuinely believes that Microsoft does only good and nothing bad. If this is so then that's a little sad in part, but it can also be exceedingly dangerous. There is no reasoning with people who "know" that they are in the right.

    Fortunately, there is the little question of the Halloween documents to spoil that rosy picture. Nice interviews notwithstanding, we know that Microsoft is not populated with angels, so BG is either not Mr Nice Guy at all or else he's out of touch with ongoings at Microsoft. Either way, that's a million light years better than the messiah that Paxman appeared to be interviewing.
  • by jflynn ( 61543 ) on Sunday October 17, 1999 @02:04PM (#1606926)
    Yeah, ok, Bill G got PC's on everyone's desktop and Mussolini made the trains run on time.

    No one has a problem with *what* Bill did. It's with the *way* he did it.

    How many small companies died so that Microsoft could grow fatter? How many programmers had to either work with the Win32 API or find another job? How many better technologies did he strangle?

    The PC revolution happened for two reasons. One was the hardware clone industry. Everyone and their stepsister was grinding them out, and inventing new peripherals for them. The other reason was the thriving software ecology when DOS was king. I remember when the OS was what Microsoft made and there were lots of utilities, spreadsheets, word processors, and programs made by *other* companies. Even competing desktops.

    Until the 90's it seemed that Microsoft was a player in this space. The user installable device drivers in DOS actually helped it widen significantly. But then software competitors started running into compatibility problems and vanishing for one reason or another, only to be replaced by a Microsoft product. Until we are left with today's market where "your system will crash a lot unless you use Microsoft apps and approved drivers." And nearly every system comes shipped with the Window's OS like it was a required piece of hardware.

    You can admire Bill for his rapaciousness and greed if you like, but try to realize it wasn't without cost to many of us. Windows is to the software industry as the space shuttle is to the space industry, bad technology that displaced possibly more worthy choices.
  • True story:

    Back in 1989, when Windows looked like crap, and they had many competing GUI's (OS/2, DESQview, among many others!), MS hired the designers of the Mac GUI's look and feel to work on Windows 3.0's.

    Apparently, this helped MS out because they actually had an 'eye candy' product for the first time. It also had ZDNet getting way too happy.

    BillG already knows of Apple's contributions, because he bought the people from there that gave the Mac its coolness factor and used them for Windows 3.0 aka It Looks Nice [but doesn't work and crashes more than Windows 2000!].
  • But I firmly believe that had Apple not introduced the world to Macintosh, computers would be much to use. Gates has got to give them some Had the Mac never existed, we would still probably have some sort of GUI-based system today since concepts and even limited implementations were in place before the Mac was born, but I guarantee you wouldn't be like what we see today in Mac OS, Windows, KDE/Gnome, BeOS, etc.

    You are in some part correct. Apple's Macintosh was very important in the evolution of personal computers and continues to play an important role.

    However, you miss something very key. Apple did not invent the GUI by any stretch of the imagination. They essentially stole it from Xerox PARC. Virtually all the important technologies we use today (GUIs, mice, Ethernet, laser printers, PostScript) were invented at Xerox's Palo Alto Research Center. When Xerox decided to can the Star, its researchers went off to various companies. The man who became the founder of Adobe (err...whats his name...) was a researcher at PARC. Many of the folks who worked on Macintosh's GUI were former Xerox employees.

    So if you have to give credit to someone, not only would you have to credit Apple, but you would also have to credit Xerox, even though it never came up with a marketable product.

    So next time you see Bill Gates talking about how Microsoft is changing the world, remember who he following.

    And remember who Apple followed.

    I should also point out that since the Macintosh, Apple really hasn't had any significant innovations. (Anyone who thinks that the iMac is any kind of technological innovation needs to be shot. A good marketing innvotation, perhaps :) Most of the important innovations (HTTP/HTML, Java, etc.) have come out of other companies and not Apple or Microsoft.

  • by Shaheen ( 313 ) on Sunday October 17, 1999 @02:42PM (#1606944) Homepage
    If any of you have ever read any "How Microsoft and Bill Gates got to where it is" books, you'd find out a lot about Gates' past and exactly what he did to get where he is today. And, just as Microsoft's marketing department spreads its FUD about how NT is better than Linux, so do many Slashdot readers spread FUD about the motivations of Microsoft, and what its leader is really all about. I believe this thread is an excellent chance to bring information about Bill Gates to light. (NOTE: What I say below this sentence is the result of reading books such as Barbarians Lead By Bill Gates, Harddrive and others.)

    Where to start? How about his childhood? From the biographical accounts I have had the chance to read, here is a typical situation in which you might find William H. Gates III during his earlier years: Alone in the basement of his house, contemplating. Not reading. Not working. Thinking. About what? I don't quite remember if the books say what. In any case, what does this say about Gates? Not much I suppose, but it does show that Gates wasn't quite "normal" from the beginning: he wasn't outside playing with friends all the live-long-day. Remind you of someone? Perhaps yourself?

    It is also well known that Bill Gates was quite an upstart at school. Why? Because he corrected his teachers. Voraciously. I am sure that many of us have corrected our teachers for everything from a wrong equation to wrong terminology, but Gates is known not only to do that, but with great precision pin-point fallacies in his teacher's thinking. His best subjects, just like most of us, were Mathematics and pure sciences. One well-known anecdote is when Gates was taking a high-level course in math (I forget the particular one, but some form of Calculus for sure) and his professor was proving some theorem or another on the board. Gates, like many of us, was in la-la land (sleeping). However, as soon as he woke up, he noticed the professor made the smallest mistake in his proof - and corrected it on the spot.

    So Gates is somewhat like us geeks when it comes to learning. What about when it comes to computers?

    Fact: Bill Gates wrote a BASIC interpreter in 4K of memory. Reminds you of your own programming feats, doesn't it?

    He met Paul Allen way back in middle school - Allen being the elder of the two. The first computer that the school received was one of those tele-type machines where it was all time-share computing. It turns out that Gates and Allen alone used so much time-share time that the school couldn't keep up with the cost! I forget the outcome, but I think Gates and Allen went to work for the company that owned the PDP-11 that was being time-shared. Doesn't that sound a little bit like us in high school? Playing Quake all day? I remember I scheduled my senior year of high school so well that I had 5 periods a day in which I could play Quake non-stop. That was fun. Speaking of scheduling....

    Gates and Allen were once chartered to write a program that would schedule students for classes. And guess what? Gates "accidentally" found himself in a class with only one boy - himself. Don't you think you would have done the same?

    Fact: Bill Gates asked his dates what their SAT scores were. Did you ever want to ask, but were too afraid to?

    Well, I don't want to turn this into an unauthorized biography of Gates, but I did want to shed some light on his past. With all of us Linux users saying "Gates is the devil! Look, the ASCII characters of his name add up to 666 - It's Proof!!" it's just the same as throwing FUD back at Microsoft, only at a more personal level.

    I am not defending Gates' actions, or his company. I'm just trying to show you that Gates might be more like you than you would like to believe. He had the same motivations that we had when we were young - play games, ogle girls. I think where he went "wrong" was that he found he had a really good business sense, and he used it to the maximum. When you were last put in the position of power (I mean, for instance, the power to change something - a test grade, a course grade, etc.), did you? Probably not. Bill Gates found himself in the position of power - many times, in fact. And he found he was really good at controlling the situation. The question then becomes, was he immoral to use his power?

    Sorry for the long post, and definitely sorry if you felt that I didn't add anything, but my main purpose of this post was to show that Bill Gates had many of the same aspirations we had when we were young, and he may be more like us than we think (or like to believe).
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I'm glad that the first perceptions of this response show that Gates is not motivated purely by money or power, and that the overall opinion of him is that he's out to improve humanity. However I don't agree that he is 'disillusioned' and thinks he knows best.

    When we see Microsoft jump out and aquire technology, or drive competitors out of business, this is simply the 'business mode' of Gates and his company. I know that Microsoft is not one person, but the whole company must live by a Microsoft-y way of life. Don't forget how many people's jobs are provided, and Gates has a responsibily to keep making money. I think we all tend to forget that sometimes in a hurry to bag out MS.

    60% of this response goes on about how dangerous Gates is and that the DOJ really should do something about it. Do you really think that Gates is dangerous? You make him sound like a psychotic!

    Despite the response, I think Bill Gates has done a lot for computing, and has enabled a lot of people to get on the Internet -easily-. You can't ignore the level of technical skill required previously to connect a Linux box to the net, configure X and install a browser. Sure, it's getting easier, but it's still not as easy as Windows. People like us have difficulty understanding why the average computer user can't understand Unix.....that's something that we all need to keep in mind.

    I couldn't watch the interview since I don't have a TV, so I'm hoping that a AVI becomes available so I can watch it. I give credit to Dodger for his well written response, but I think some people forget the small details like people's jobs, and the fact that Microsoft is a -business-. ie. needs to make money.
  • Wait a second, Microsoft is not at fault.

    It's the U.S. Government and its evil anti-trust division at the Department of Justice which is trying to keep Microsoft from innovating. Microsoft has to defend [washingtonpost.com] itself. Everybody [cnet.com] agrees.

    You see, Microsoft has this website called the Freedom to Innovate Network [microsoft.com].

    But then I forgot to pay my Microsoft tax and I was shot.
    ----
  • Anyone who has read Stephen Manes'(of PC Magazine fame) excellent biography of Bill Gates, Gates,(a very gutsy book...Billion-dollar Billy had very little input on the direction of the book...this book was written before Windows 95 became a reality), will realize that Gates is not driven by money or power. He's a game player who is driven to win. At all costs.

    From Gates' perspective, in order for him to win, everyone else playing the game has to lose. This why Microsoft has driven everyone out of business that has tried to compete with them. When Netscape threatened Microsoft's business by declaring Navigator a software platform, Gates saw this as a potential for Netscape to win. Since he didn't want to see that happen, he ordered the development of Internet Explorer, and its subsequent integration into Windows, as a way of marginalizing Netscape's competitive advantage.

    Putting Netscape out of business was not done for the sake of putting Netscape out of business per se...Netscape had a possibility to win (with Navigator), and Gates wanted to see that they couldn't win. The fact that they staked their whole business on turning Navigator into a platform to take on Windows was the reason they were put out of business, and that's basically Netscape's fault, not Microsoft's.

    (This is of course, my own extrapolation from what I've read in Gates and does not in anyway represents the author's or anyone else's opinions)

    Gates' view that Microsoft is responsible for the personal computer revolution is understandable from a limited point of view. Windows is what put PCs in gramdma's house. Of course thinking that the point-and-click GUI interface that is responsible for this feat is the sole ordinance of Microsoft is just silly. GUIs were invented at Xerox PARC years before Microsoft or even Apple had anything to do with them.

  • If microsoft hadn't existed, the PC would have been IBM's mac. A single vendor solution, IBM hardware, OS and software.

    I really don't agree with this idea at all. IBM is the reason we have multivendor hardware sources, not Microsoft. If you look at the state of the PC world what we have is on the hardware side - open hardware with lots of vendors it's great.

    But look at the software side. This is a world that is closed closed closed. Microsoft has driven out all of the serious competition from the OS and key application markets for the desktop. It is in fact single source. If you are buying an Intel machine for desktop use you have one OS and application vendor you are stuck with. Microsoft.

    Sure, there are some competitiors to Microsoft on the server side. But for clients Microsoft is the single vendor source.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Bill Gates isn't the anti-Christ, he's the real-life version of Ayn Rand's Hank Reardon:

    Gates is always being asked to "open" the Windows source code so everyone can benefit.

    Reardon was always being asked to "open" the recipe for Reardon Metal so everyone can benefit.

    People claim Gates is "selfish" for making his own software standards and saying anyone is able to create their own standards and compete.

    People claim Reardon was "selfish" for making his own metal and saying anyone is able to use any other type of metal and compete.

    Maybe everyone was expecting the "real life" version of the Randian legend to be noble and lovable, but the truth is more often than not, stranger than fiction. There are many more likenesses between Gates and Reardon, explore a few on your own. Plenty of non-similar attributes, too. Explore the possibilities, why don't you?
  • *engage rant mode*
    ... Well, it was a nice try. :^) Seriously, the chant "Kill Clippy!" is one I find myself uttering alot. If there's one thing MS has cursed us with, it's technology that thinks it knows more than you do. This is why it [Windows] always asks "are you sure you want to do this?" .. as if... DUH! OF COURSE! Clippy is the embodiment of evil... it thinks it's a sentient being trying to be helpful.. when infact it's so useless it makes those "programmable" microwaves look like mini-einsteins!

    *disengage rant mode*

    --


  • In many ways I think the reviewer has a point: Bill Gates is not an evil megalomaniac, but a man who has the "best" of intentions to be an enlightened leader to the world over which he has considerable power. In many ways, I think that one can really see in him why a despot is always bad, no matter how enlightened the intentions.

    One hundred years from now, our complaints of Bill Gates actions will beyond doubt seem petty: the man who left an 80 billion dollar charity foundation behind him (granted, things could go bad for Microsoft, but they are too big to go away: at worst/best they will go the way of IBM) will be remembered as one of the worlds greatest philantropists. It will be hard to explain to our grandchildren why we spoke of that man as more evil than satan: But giving away large sums of money is easy, being a despot is hard.

    One of the things that has always scared (and sometimes comforted) me the most about the power that BG has is that he is a man of absolutely no vision. Whenever he speaks of a the future, its always about some technology, predicted for years, that Microsoft thinks is around the corner (for the last two years: voice recognition). BG seems. and he is far from alone about it, to see the information age as a large, shiny playing field of technical gadgets and webpages full of dancing baloney. If I had half his fortune for every insightful comment he has had about he social changes implied by the transition to the information society, I would be just as broke as I am today. Which is not exactly what we need in a leader.

    -
    /. is like a steer's horns, a point here, a point there and a lot of bull in between.
  • by LuxuryBoy ( 93558 ) on Sunday October 17, 1999 @02:24PM (#1606969)
    There were at least two parts of the interview that were recorded but not broadcast. Paxman challenged Gates over the buying of "Quick and Dirty Software" (he meant QDOS) on which MSDOS was based. I can't remember what Gates' reply was to this. Shortly after this they were discussing how Gates got IBM to use MSDOS and Paxman asked about "IBM's big mistake". Gates said that at that time IBM were given the chance to buy 40% of Microsoft stock and that their mistake was not to have taken it. Whilst this is undoubtedly true in hindsight, I'm not sure why the BBC cut all this unless it was for space reasons. Perhaps someone at Microsoft leaned on them ?
  • I can answer both questions:

    "Where do you want to go today?"
    Back to the software store to get a refund!

    "Where are we going tomorrow?"
    I don't know, but suspect that "thinking differently" won't get you there any sooner!

    --

  • The previous poster is partially correct. Some of Windows 1.0's (!) GUI was in fact invented by a former Apple employee. Anyone who has seen Windows prior to 3.0 knows that the buttons look strickingly similar to the Macintosh's 2D buttons and things like the design of the pulldown menus and the centered headings on the top of dialog boxes, the location of the control box, etc were certainly derived from the Macintosh.

    Windows 3.0's "new" look and feel (3D buttons, etc.) was in fact derived from OS/2's. However, the design of the GUI's internals were definitely not derived from OS/2 code...Microsoft wanted to base PM's GUI on Windows, while IBM said no way, we have our own GUI code that we want to implement.

  • I think you may be fooling yourself. I think Bill Gates may morally justify his actions to himself by thinking that he is bringing the world into the computer and information age.... however, I believe, deep down he just craves the power.

    Microsoft's main business is to make software. Why do they make such crappy software? Bill Gates and many of the Microsoft employees are very rich people. It shouldn't be all about the money anymore. Microsoft has a unique position... they hold so much market share, and have a lot of money... they could really concentrate on making some quality software... However, they don't.

    Let's look at a few things about Microsoft.

    1. Microsoft really doesn't have many innovations. They usually take someone else's idea, do it their own way with a lot of semi-useless bells and whistles, and put their propaganda machine behind it.

    2. What about that propaganda machine? Instead of just making a quality product, they try to force you to use it or try make you believe it is the standard. Like how they force you to install IE to install Visual Studio. How about how they how they get the media outlets that they own to proclaim MS Product A is better than Competitor Product B?

    3. They concentrate on adding more features to their products then actually trying to make an efficient, stable product. They change formats from version to version, pretty much forcing you to upgrade. I doubt if Microsoft has ever re-written a program from scratch. You follow the MS Word path lately?

    4. Buggy software.... and they don't even admit to calling them bugs. I am amazed by some of the things they release. I know every software company seems to have this problem, but Microsoft seems to be one of the worst.


    Now maybe I am thinking a bit idealistic... nothing can be perfect. However, I think Bill Gates has the influence with Microsoft, so if he really wanted to make some quality products, he could push the company to do so..... but he doesn't. He drives the company to sell the most software and dominate the industry. Bill Gates is in it for the power and control.
  • If microsoft hadn't existed, the PC would have been IBM's mac

    First of all, realize that the reason we have multivendor hardware is IBM, and its allowing Microsoft to license DOS to other hardware vendors.

    Besides that, there's a possiblity that the Macintosh might never have existed if it weren't for Microsoft. MS played an important role in the development of the Mac. Since they were writing applications for the Mac, they got to play with prototypes, and had significant input in the design of the finished product.
  • stricmp("Gates","Linus");

    Cause when it comes to being sensative...
  • by code4444 ( 47997 ) on Sunday October 17, 1999 @05:35PM (#1606989)
    Why does no one remember that MS actually moved the whole industry many years back? The IBM PC was the answer of the established computing world to home computers, and it managed to combine the worst of both worlds.

    Like Linus, I once owned a Sinclair QL. Same vintage as the original IBM PC. Yes, it was cheapskate hardware - uncle Clive would never use a 245 if you could just ploink 8 resistors in the data lines. But it had a decent operating system.

    It wasn't the perfect OS, but it was at least done by people who understood the basics of OS design, and applied them. It had did multi processing, had decent device drivers, and was relatively simple to code for even in assembler. Other home computers from that era had decent OSes too - the amiga guys are still lyric about theirs :-)

    Home computers were moving from 8 bit / 64K into 16 bit systems, and evolving. Unix was more then 10 years old by then, and the same way that all 16 processors except the 8086 were basically 32 bit processors cut down to what was technically possible the operating systems were mature if cut down to what hardware of the day could handle.

    Except for MS-DOS. It was a badly done clone of CP/M. It couldn't do process management. It couldn't do memory allocation. Its device drivers were fundamentally flawed, so everyone bypassed them. It couldn't do serial ports beyond 2400 baud, due to MS-DOS being too stupid. It couldn't handle alternate file systems. It pretty much couldn't do anything except imitate CP/M.

    PC hardware was done by someone masturbating over an intel catalog. It had interrupt controllers and DMA controllers, terribly expensive dream parts in those days. MS-DOS defeated their purpose by blocking on every I/O call.

    After some years, paying the rent meant programming for MS-DOS. It made everyone who'd ever seen a decent OS puke. Everything was complicated, involved directly accessing hardware, and trying to figure out which of 12 'standards' was currently in use on the machine.

    It was no surprise that everything crashed, was difficult to install, and couldn't coexist with anything else.

    That lowly QL could have grown quite nicely as more powerful hardware became available - because its OS was a simple and decent abstraction layer. Not so MS-DOS. Remember how many years between the 386 and MS-DOS-alter-ego-windows doing 32 bit most of the time. How many years to virtual memory? How many years and how many horrors before decent networking was possible?

    Oh, did you notice that Bill Gates managed to loose BASIC along the way. Home computers of the day always had a simple programming environment available - there was no big gap between users and programmers in those days. It was considered normal that users did a little programming of their own. People didn't do $2000 courses to 'learn' programming - if you had a computer and a bit of talent it was unavoidable to pick it up along the way. We got batch files in return.

    COMPUTERS ARE NOT COMPLICATED. It doesn't require magic to get everything to work right. Standards do not have to change every two years. You don't need wizards to protect you from the evil complexity of it all. Simple programming is, in fact, simple.

    MS-DOS and Windows made things complicated and frustrating. I'm serious when I say Bill Gates deserves to be tortured to death for pushing MS-DOS down our throats. It caused misery to millions.
  • And he keeps trying to claim that MS helped create the Internet. Sigh.

    Now see, thats one thing that obviously points to the fact that Gates is dillusional. As just a few years ago, before the creation of IE, Gates specifically said that his company would never use the internet, and that its just a fad. This is after the internet had been around for a few decades. So I really can't see how someone could be opposed to something so heavily then turn around once its popular to state that you helped its creation. Atleast he didn't say he invented it. Gates for 2000!!! HERHEHE sorry
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 17, 1999 @05:47PM (#1606996)
    Phil Greenspun has an excellent page on how Bill managed to get so wealthy. Its available at http://photo.net/bg/ [photo.net]. What follows is largely stolen from there.

    Its interesting that you claim to have read Hardrive. Did you happen to notice this little snippet from page 38:

    At one point Maestretti [physics teacher at Lakeside prep school] tried to encourage Gates to use his hands as well as his intellect. As a project, Maestretti asked him to assemble a Radio Shack electronics kit, in order to force him to build something correctly and make it work.

    "I can remember when he brought it to me, telling me, 'Okay, now I've satisfied my project.' And of course solder was dripping all over the back..." Needless to say, it didn't work."
    -- Hard Drive, page 38

    More interesting tidbits:

    According to Hard Drive, however, Bill Gates and Paul Allen didn't have enough time to get their BASIC interpreter working for the MITS Altair 8080. Paul Allen did the hard work of making an 8080 emulator for Harvard's PDP-10 mainframe computer.

    Gates and Allen were then able to enlist fellow Harvard student Monte Davidoff to implement the floating point arithmetic portions of the language. A search for "Davidoff" on www.microsoft.com came up with zero hits (January 11, 1998).

    After the demo, someone still had to go down to Albuquerque, New Mexico to (a) convince MITS to buy the code, and then (b) make the prototype into a usable system. Gates stayed at Harvard to play poker with his rich buddies while Paul Allen spent months in a motel room in Albuquerque. Microsoft came into existence because Allen successfully managed both the business and technology, earning him... a minority stake in the company.

    What follows is my own take:

    I'm not saying Slashdot doesn't perpetuate its own line of FUD every now and then, but there's no way you can seriously compare Slashdot FUD and Microsoft FUD. Slashdot is a community of people who interact with each other and reason things out collectively. Slashdot makes no attempt at changing the public. Its a community forum. MS is a monolithic organization that spends billions of dollars each year manipulating the public. There's an enormous difference between a bunch of people talking in a forum where others can refute and explore ideas and a behemoth that has so much money and influence that it can drown out any public voices it doesn't care for. Thats why MS FUD (their oldest product) is so deadly. There's no way anyone but Sun and Oracle can afford to buy enough exposure to counter their ridiculous claims.

    Finally, I really don't care if BG is a typical nerd or geek or whatever. I don't care about his childhood. The reason is that regardless of much of a geek he is, I'm still going to hold him to the same standards of social responsibility as any other CEO.

  • I appreciated the fair tone of both this analysis and the comments it brought out. There are many things I don't like about Bill Gates, but his detractors sometimes fail to recognize at least one point:

    Bill gives it away whenever he tries to lie. This is readily apparent in his court testimony, his Congressional appearance, and the Charlie Rose interview [800-all-news.com] he did the next day. So, those of us who reject much of what he says have to recognize that he believes it.

To communicate is the beginning of understanding. -- AT&T

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