Friday, June 27, 2008

Bill Gates

Bye, bye, Bill. I had the impression that you had a sense of humour when I interviewed you all those years ago. But even I couldn't have predicted your last, best gag - Vista, an operating system that doesn't work on computers. Tommy Cooper would have approved. You always seemed to have a lively awareness of your company's deep commitment to user unfriendliness and it is consoling to discover you couldn't make Microsoftware work either. Your retirement job, giving away $58 billion, is, of course, your finest hour. You told me you'd give away all your money, I said you'd change your mind once you had children. But you didn't. This is admirable. Also admirable is your imperviousness to the demands of image and PR. Your appalling hair and clothes have remained unchanged, your peculiar, whining, high-pitched voice remains untutored. It will be interesting to see who they persuade to play you in the movie - The Gates Code - possibly a slimmed down Philip Seymour Hoffman. My guess is that your work on software will be, one day, largely forgotten but your philanthropy will endure. Microsoft will have been a means to an end. I like that.


  1. yeah, when I think of the archetype of a computer user I think of Tommy Cooper. :o/

    Cough! Vista? It's Curtains For Windows ha-ha-har-har!

  2. i bought a new PC a few months ago, with Vista. Because of all the virus scans etc., each time i turn the bastard on it takes about an hour before i can use it for anything. i try and open the internet - it freezes up for 5 minutes. This is not pleasing given i spent more than £600 rather than going for a bottom-end piece of crap.

    Nice line from Gates' email:

    "In fact it is more like a puzzle that you get to solve. It told me to go to Windows Update and do a bunch of incantations.

    This struck me as completely odd."

  3. Vista sucks, as everyone discovered about two minutes after they bought a computer with it. I prefer my oldie but goldie Windows XP, though lots of people think that sucks too. But at least I know how to debug this one.

  4. Microsoft!? Pah! If it doesn't freeze, crash or blow up - you get non stop pop-up windows warning you it may freeze, crash or blow up!

    Apple rules! You'll never look back.

  5. Haha, that's a very good send off. And the scale of the philanthropy is stupendous, even if it's really our money he's spending.

    Actually, Vista is not too bad if you have a PC that can run it. But it's not too good, either - "good enough", charging top dollar for mediocrity, seems to have been one of the keys to Microsoft's success. I suspect they lost the plot with Vista because they decided their real customers were the RIAA and Hollywood, not you or me. Imho, the better fit for Tommy Cooper at Microsoft is Steve Ballmer, Bill G's shy and retiring right-hand man. It's not hard to imagine him in a fez.

  6. the comment 'vista doesn't work' makes no sense, Vista works and it is solid. To say it doesn't is retarded. The question is it worth it, especially with the .net framework creating platform independance.

    Appleyard needs to understand he looks foolish opinining about things beyond his ken. Take early retirement

  7. The question is it worth it, especially with the .net framework creating platform independance.

    Sure, .NET runs on lots of platforms: XP, Vista, Windows CE (kind of), ...

  8. Because of BillG you can buy a reasonable GUI computer for $300.

    Without Microsoft that never would have happened.

    Your snark only diminishes yourself.

    -- stanley krute

  9. "Sure, .NET runs on lots of platforms: XP, Vista, Windows CE (kind of), ..."

    yeah but the point is its backwardly compatible with XP, so Vista may not be worth it in that respect. As to other platforms I assume watch this space. There are also different flavours of the .net framework.

    But the thrust of my original comment stands. Appleyard should take early retirement for the gross stupidity of the 'Vista doesn't work' comment. Applyard thinks this is 2003 or something like that

  10. Stanley is right. Bryan probably wasn't paying attention at the time, but I DO remember $400 software (like dBase) that didn't always work on $3,000 machines. Lots of vendors, little follow-through on promises, and outrageously expensive upgrades. (The figures are 1983 dollars, BTW.) WordPerfect's decision not to come out with a windows version of its product, not MSFT's predatory practices, gave MSFT the opening it needed in that department. Until then, Word was very much an "also-ran."

    If Jobs had his way, the average machine would still retail well above $2k, have no backward compatibility for older software, etc. Apple machines may be beautiful but they remain over-priced and under-powered.

    (Typed on an Apple machine)

  11. philip wallingJune 27, 2008 7:20 pm

    Two things:
    1. I hate "philanthropists" who rob ordinary people blind during thirty years of ruthless, greedy money-making and then expect to redeem themselves by pretending to give it all away for the next thirty years and be lauded for their "generosity";
    2. I think Bryan was speaking metaphorically when he said Vista "doesn't work". If he meant it's not reliable, then I agree. Apple wins hands down.

  12. I seriously doubt he gave it all away to charity.

  13. "even if it's really our money he's spending"
    ER? we bought the product, now its his money. Thats how capitalism works.

    Oh and giving away money isnt his greatest contribution, but aiding the computer industry (which has done more to lift people out of poverty than any recent industry) in development is

  14. "even if it's really our money he's spending"
    ER? we bought the product, now its his money. Thats how capitalism works.

    No, it's our money even though it may now be in his care. That's because Microsoft has long levied what amounts to a monopoly tax, just as governments enjoy a monopoly on being able to levy a tax but the money raised is our money, now in their care.

    Microsoft's licence agreements - the software industry's scandalously unregulated EULA - makes it quite clear that they are only loaning me software under strictly limited circumstances. So in my view, I am only loaning them my money.

    Actually I'd question whether Bill G really thinks the money is his at all. That makes him sound like a miser. It is really a windfall from one of the most lucrative monopolies of all time. Now, in many different guises, the dosh is all going back to where it came from. I don't much care for his sofware, but good on Mr Gates.