Honestly, the company he built makes some good stuff, and also makes a lot of trouble for everyone else. The Embrace/Extend/Extinguish methodology which was created under Gates is something that anyone working in infrastructure is going to be fighting for the next 30 years, and it's holding innovation back. Does anyone out there love IE6, or Active Directory? Both are primary examples of this.
I don't hate Gates. I just think that he did a great job of making money at the expense of others, and in ways that still hurt the industry today.
Paying penance after the fact doesn't excuse the original actions.
Edit: And I'm surprised by the amount of hate against Bill Gates in HN. We all need to think a minute on what each one of us personally did to make the world better and then opine on Bill Gates. It's easy to hold grudge and hate someone for some hypothetical reasons.
Microsoft did nothing like that. Quite the contrary - and since the start of the PC market, by forcing PC makers to license MS-DOS for every unit shipped (not every unit shipped with MS-DOS), they effectively prevented the introduction of a competing operating system. While making prices one OEM license higher.
Had IBM never allowed MS-DOS to exist (by signing an exclusive deal), PC clones would probably not exist and, if they did, they would run CP/M 86. 32-bit computers would have arrived sooner, as would 64-bit and RISC. Intel would be happy making non-x86 processors (I can't imagine they really like making their current monstrosities). The personal computer landscape would be much more diverse hardware-wise, (think Amiga, Archimedes, Transputers) but, probably, due to pressures from software market, there would be a cross-platform software standard, most probably around POSIX.
Microsoft would be making compilers. I wouldn't be a better world from all aspects because Microsoft wouldn't be making the Natural keyboard.
edit: other things would be different - the Free Software movement would have a lot less momentum, as there would be no enemy (Microsoft's monopoly) to fight. MSX (once popular outside the US) would have never existed (manufacturers would never gang up to build a standard that would have them competing in price alone in order to enrich a single software company in return)
" The Apple raid on Xerox PARC is sometimes
described as one of the biggest heists in the
chronicles of industry. Jobs occasionally endorsed this
view, with pride. As he once said, “Picasso had a
saying—‘good artists copy, great artists steal’—and
we have always been shameless about stealing great
Obviously Apple and SJobs are far worse than Microsoft and BGates. SJobs has a vision and motivated by it, to do anything to achieve it. BGates is more of an ordinary man.
That's why BGates final goal in life is not to "hit android until its dead lying on the floor" but instead "lets donate most money which i dont even need to try to make the world a better place".
Fucking hell of a difference if you ask me.
Heck, with all their wrongs, current Windows is actually pretty damn good, and Microsoft Research has awesome stuff released every now and then.
You know Microsoft collects nearly a half billion a year from patents relating to android?
Case Study 3 is fun.
Of course it's impossible to say what the world would be like if there had been no Microsoft. It's impossible to make any long-term projections, whether or not they're for an alternate reality. But that doesn't matter, because it works the other way: You can't say that the good done by Microsoft was worth it in the long run, because you don't know what long-term successes they prevented.
All we really have to go on are the short-term what-ifs, such as the dozens of times that Microsoft illegally screwed over their competitors and restricted consumer choice. Those aren't hypothetical events, but they did result in at least short-term harm.
And here are the same people who were ridiculing Richard Stallman's comments on Steve Jobs based on his ideology but hate Bill Gates because his company has done some bad in the past and he is against their ideology. I don't see any difference.
IMO, if you worship Steve Jobs and hate Bill Gates, it doesn't make any sense. They both are no Gods and they both have done plenty of good and bad.
> They both are no Gods and they both have done plenty of good and bad.
Exactly. It's completely possible to be critical of Stallman for his recent poor taste, Jobs for the tightly controlled App Store and iOS, and Gates for abusing Microsoft's monopoly and making software that is (sometimes) shitty. At the same time, it is possible, and not hypocritical, for the same person to admire all three of them for the good and great things they've done.
There is no single HN "hivemind" as much as people like to think that there is. There a great many individual voices which you have decided to lump together. I doubt there is seriously anyone on here who literally worships Steve Jobs and actually hates Bill Gates.
You just need to scroll down to the end of these comments to see people who worship Steve and hate Bill.
Also - for some reason, Firefox in Android does not show reply link for deeper comments.
That's a feature of HN, not of Firefox. There's a delay before the "reply" link appears, and the delay is longer the deeper the thread is nested, to prevent fast back and forth comments degenerating into arguments, I believe.
As for the comments at the bottom of that page, you're absolutely right, and I unfortunately overestimated the quality of the discussion in this thread. All the more reason to avoid the bottom of the comment page on stories with hundreds of comments.
I have a hard time seeing an argument for this. There was a large selection of alternative OS's in the 80's, and one of them would've gotten a dominant position without DOS/Windows, possibly, though not necessarily, giving us a dominant player that would've been far less aggressive about using illegal methods to undermine their competition.
Gates legacy is becoming more positive, but brushing the negative sides under a chair is revisionism.
EDIT: Charming, being downvoted instead of getting a counter-argument. I thought I was on Hacker News, not on Reddit.
If you go back to the 80s it was a very different world. Gates foresaw that by licensing the OS and allowing it to run on any IBM PC compatible computer it would commodify HW. Prices on PC HW just started dropping -- margins all but disappeared.
The model virtually everyone else did -- and note the Apple model was the dominant model in this day -- was you did the full stack. Apple, Atari, Commodore, Sun, SGI, DEC, etc all built the HW and the OS -- with healthy margins built it. But they couldn't compete pricewise with MS + commodity HW.
The other thing Gates did was to realize that disruption works from the bottom up. Microsoft became the master w/ disruptive SW. They would come into an existing market with a powerful, but expensive marketleader and offer a weaker, but far less expensive competitor. I think kids nowadays never knew the old days of computing where the fear was that Microsoft would do a product similar to yours, not quite as good, but sell it at 1/5 the price.
What Gates didn't have a plan against was the natural disrpution to MS's disruption -- free software.
People now say, "Microsoft SW is so expensive!", but few recall that early versions of WordPerfect could cost $5,000 per seat.
Microsoft brought prices down for much of software into the $49-$299 range from the $5,000-$10,000 range. Without the licensed OS model that runs on commodity HW, I'm not sure we would have seen such drastic downward pressure on SW pricing.
We now have Google entering your market and offering a better product for free.
Of course where search, mail,browser and android are concerned, Google has done an excellent job, but for productivity software MS is still the king.
And in exchange get a system where when your non-tech-savvy friend breaks their computer their data is still safe waiting for them?
Or when they want to send you a document they just press the share button?
Google Docs and MS Office are very different products, but saying Docs is inherently worse ignores the benefits provided by a web based system that Office just can't provide.
For many it is, for others it's insufficient. But: "do a product similar to yours, not quite as good, but sell it at 1/5 the price."
The only reason we have MS Office at work is Exchange and Outlook, and that's because we dogfood a component of the service we're providing to our customers. Everything else is taken care by OOo/LO and we have a Google Apps around (used mostly for XMPP) but that one would be put to full use the moment we drop Exchange.
Agreed with offline though.
That was happening before gates -- MS-DOS 1.0, renamed from QDOS (Quick and Dirty Operating System) was a clone of CP/M, an O/S that had already been available for essentially every hardware capable 8080 or Z80 based system at the time. MS-DOS was just a clone for 8088/8086 based systems.
The fact that 8088/8086 became the dominant PC architecture (rather than e.g. 68K) has a lot to do with IBM's lack of innovation (they just needed to counter apple's rise, so they built something which was very close to an intel reference design -- making clones easy and mostly legal).
To a lesser extent, this was also happening with Unix.
I also played with a Z80 computer - those things were useless. What made the PC shine was the constant innovation coming from Intel - they didn't stop at 8086.
Context is everything. CP/M was already useful in 1973. MSDOS made an appearance in 1981. Which word processor could you run on the PC in 1979? (Yes, that's a trick question ...)
> What made the PC shine was the constant innovation coming from Intel - they didn't stop at 8086.
No. The only thing that made the PC shine is the cheap IBM clones of the time. Motorola's 68K (in 1978) was years ahead of the 8086 (introduced in 1978) -- and it also cost 20 times as much. The same vintage 1978 68K was still years ahead of Intel's 80286. And then Intel almost killed themselves with the 432, which was not backwards compatible and had miserable performance.
Intel returned to usefulness with the 386, that was comparable to the 68030 (same time, and price comparable as well) The 486 was to the 68040. But at that point, the world was unfortunately owned by the PC and x86 architecture.
If you ever programmed for the 68K, and then looked at the mess that is the x86 32-bit architecture, the only possible response is WTF!?!?
It's worth noting that Apple wanted to control both the hardware and the operating system, just as they do now. I'm glad we don't live in a world with a dominant player controlling both of those.
If you think Apple's prices are high now, think what would happen if there no other PC OEMs.
This was already in progress, and Digital Research was already working on CPM86, just too slow and not business savvy. Had microsoft not snatched the IBM deal, PC prices would have probably looked the same, perhaps one or two years delayed.
I have personally witnessed Microsoft bullying in 1990 in a project I was involved with. BeOS (and other alternative PC operating systems) died mostly because of Microsoft bullying. That's a big part of Gates' legacy, and probably will be for a long time to come.
Guess how many PCs were sold with BeOS after that happened? At that point, it was Apple or bust. And then it was bust.
Surely somebody else would have eventually written an open source Unix clone. (Probably not GNU, but somebody.) But Linus gets praised for it, and rightly so.
There's little basis for thinking that if you were to travel back in time and take Microsoft out of the equation, IBM would not have been able to quickly sign a deal with someone else, and that someone else - or a third party would not have been able to help kickstart the clone industry the same way Microsoft did by being willing to provide a license.
That someone else would have to resist the temptation of making mega billions by tying their software to hardware that they sell at a premium.
Though it may not have made too much difference in the long run, given the need to get away from the DOS based architecture.
A defining moment was when the "clean room" approach to implementing a BIOS was certified non infringing by courts. Clones were available (as in, 5 years or so) before that moment, but the BIOSes had a cloud of copyright uncertainty.
It seems that to survive in a "fair" proprietary ecosystem -- please recall that Unix /was/ proprietary in the 80s and 90s -- that you need to be rapacious. Microsoft used E/E/E, predatory dealing with manufacturers and gave out candy to developers, while Oracle followed IBM's old pattern of FUD backed by armies of consultants.
Apple barely made it; they were circling the drain when The Chief Jerk returned and started kicking the antheap and killing his predecessors projects. It was a near thing.
[Jack Tramiel failed in his attempt to bring Atari back to life in the mid 80s because he mistook 'being aggressively cheap' with being ruthless.]
I like the Chief Jerk theory. I've seen a lot of orgs get complacent and consensus-driven and /go under/ because they lose their edge. You need to stay hungry and driven, and one way to get this is to have someone who is not very likeable -- but that you still respect -- at the helm.
Sounds like Windows to me.
I can still run Windows apps from 1995. Not all of the ones I have, but I'm impressed at what /does/ run. I could probably even make my Windows 3.1 stuff run.
The Unix vendors didn't seem to care about this. Oh, there were standards, but they were awfully weak. And when it gets down to doing interesting, useful things, you were sunk when you needed to do cross-platform.
There's a lot to be said for having /some/ kind of winner. Though the stuff that goes along with that -- monocultures as a target for malware, corruption in the face of absolute power, etc. -- have to be dealt with somehow. Sheer fragmentation is bad for everybody.
I started using UNIX in 1987. Among the tools I used at the time were sh/csh, vi, cc, telnet, talk, sed, awk, find, and grep. All are either still present in their original or evolved forms (grep, sed, gawk, GNU find, gcc, vim, talk/irssi), or have been replaced by more appropriate and/or secure tools (bash, ssh for telnet), I prepared more than one paper using nroff macros (groff today).
While these are for the most part text/console tools, the point is that over nearly a quarter century I've been able to build on rather than periodically toss out wholesale, a set of technical skills. Underlying concepts such as TCP/IP, filesystem hierarchies, daemon startup, process monitoring, etc., have similarly remained fairly constant.
In the personal computing world I watched CPM, Amiga, BeOS, nine or ten iterations of Windows/DOS (each with many gratuitous changes), and several major iterations of the Mac platform come and go, among others.
While the proprietary Unix market did fragment, and has ultimately fallen under the licensing correction of Free Software (thank you, RMS), that was ultimately a false start.
Microsoft managed to create platform uniformity through compulsory licensing arrangements with bulk OEMs (Compaq, IBM, Dell, HP, and others), quashing the competition (particular QDOS/DRDOS and others). The binary backwards compatibility is somewhat impressive, but comes at a high cost, and one which today with emulation readily available is rather much a throwback.
He made computers affordable? Is that what you call a convicted monopolist, using anti-competitive tactics to drown out competition? Making things affordable?
He exploited market power and made, by and large, shitty products that at best people have tolerated because they felt they had no alternative. Having done that for two decades, he grew a conscious and started handing out all his ill-gotten gains.
That's subtly and importantly wrong:
There is nothing illegal or immoral about having a monopoly. It is the natural state of affairs for many markets. Microsoft was convicted of abusing their monopoly. And abuse of a monopoly is somewhat tricky to process from an ethical perspective: a company using their base in one market to provide an advantage against competitors in a new, related market is totally normal, accepted business practice. It only becomes "wrong" when it succeeds too often. So how does a company decide where to draw the line without help of the courts? At which point do you stop doing an activity that you've been hitherto commended for?
From a market perspective it probably makes sense to have regulations restricting some cases of anti-competitive practices. But it's malarkey to go from "we have regulation for this" to branding someone unconscionable because they run afoul of it.
If you are saying that what's natural is necessarily moral, you are committing the "naturalistic fallacy" (aka the "is-ought" fallacy) In brief, it means you are confusing what is (the supposedly "natural state of affairs") with what ought to be (ie. what is moral).
It is quite possible to argue that the "natural state of affairs" is, in fact, immoral, and what ought to be (ie. what is moral) should be different from this "natural state of affairs".
"Microsoft was convicted of abusing their monopoly. And abuse of a monopoly is somewhat tricky to process from an ethical perspective: a company using their base in one market to provide an advantage against competitors in a new, related market is totally normal, accepted business practice."
"Normal, accepted business practice" could very well be immoral.
 - https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Naturalistic_...
Think about IBM with a full-on monopoly on both the hardware and software, and what that would have been like instead.
Yes. Bill Gates helped make computers affordable.
made, by and large, shitty products that
at best people have tolerated because they
felt they had no alternative
Internet Explorer kicked Netscape's ass. It only stagnated after version 5, when there was no competition remaining, but IExplorer was then the equivalent of today's Chrome ... fast and innovative.
Also people only remember Windows 9x and cry about the failure of OS/2, but NT 4.0 was released in Jul 96 and it was a pretty good operating system. It evolved later in Windows 2000 and XP. And it wasn't sold to consumers because consumers didn't want it. Instead consumers wanted 100% backwards compatibility - this was a hard constraint to workaround as hardware was not powerful enough for emulation modes.
People also cry about how Microsoft killed Netscape and yet how many people are willing to pay for their browser? Some people do, but not that many. And the Internet is useless without a browser. The irony of the situation is that many of the people blaming Microsoft for Netscape also love free stuff. And you really should do some reading on what Netscape did, because the truth is they killed themselves with whatever remained going on to live as the Mozilla Foundation, which is doing fine.
The thing is operating systems are natural monopolies. And when owning such a powerful monopoly, it is hard to not abuse it ... witness Apple, they don't even have a monopoly yet and are acting like total jerks. Witness Google for that matter and how they basically killed WebOS and MeeGo.
Is it fair? Probably not, but MeeGo is also dying because of Nokia's incompetence and WebOS is also dying because of HP and Palm. You can't blame only Android for that.
I got my first computer 16 years ago. It came with a licensed MS-DOS 6.22 and Windows for Workgroups. It was built by a local computer shop. It was a lot cheaper than what I could buy from any US company.
MS lied to IBM about OS/2 - they were collaborating on it, until MS created NT.
MS history is filled with strong-arm tactics and lies.
Yeah... which was incompatible with previous version of itself, which happily saved deleted information in the file, crashed like hell and (in my opinion) taught people to just mark stuff and change it, instead of structuring documents properly.
it's curious that the US gov't isn't going after apple for predatory practices in this case. i guess it's due to the fact that OSX still has a very small market share, overall.
but consider another case where it doesn't ... iOS. apple is essentially guilty [to a larger extent] of the same thing microsoft was convicted for. last time i checked, there were no alternate browsers available in iOS because apple's licensing terms strictly prohibit it. the closest anyone has come is opera.
am i mistaken?
UNLESS you are using a monopoly you have in one field, to further a monopoly in another. Which is what Microsoft were doing (as decided by courts). Lookup "antitrust" and "sherman act" for the US legislature, but similar laws exist in all western countries.
Apple never had such a monopoly position. Some "smart" people claim that apple has 100% monopoly on selling Apple products, and should thus be subject to similar antitrust provisions. Apple now has ~10% market share of personal computers. Microsoft at the time had >90% market share. That's why they they were regulated. Not just because they were anticompetitive.
Since no OEM could sell without MS, and losing the discounts would be death in a super price competitive market, this essentially meant Netscape couldn't use the same OEM channel to market.
That's misusing a monopoly to enter a different market. And that's what they were convicted of.
Nice. Explains Google commoditizing mobile operating systems (complement) to increase demand for their product (search).
Just ask yourself these two questions and you'll see what I mean.
Did Microsoft contribute in advancing certain areas of computing and speed up the adoption of Internet technologies?
Did Microsoft contribute in impeding certain areas of computing and slow down the adoption of Internet technologies?
Compare that to the oft-praised Apple model: directly block competitors from making similar functionality instead of competing with them and lock people into their systems. Does that model not impede technology from advancing?
You just brought up the horrible memories of computer gaming pre-directX/3d. What a mess it was.
Wonder if I have a floppy lying around with all my old custom autoexec.bat files? :)
Plug-n-play? That's a standard?
Adding TCP/IP - thanks, Microsoft, for not embracing and extending that one.
Internet explorer? Gee, thanks Microsoft for abusing your monopolistic powers to knock out Netscape and start embracing and extending the HTML platform?
The best defence you can mount is that they prevailed because they weren't significantly worse than others. That in itself says a lot -- but I'd make the argument they prevailed because they used tactics that make it hard for others to compete (including illegal ones).
It is in the "ISA-compatible hardware that doesn't need jumpers" sense, yes. It has a silly-sounding name, but it's a very specific set of hardware standards.
It was a huge, huge advance, speaking as somebody who got multiple graphics and sound cards working, simultaneously, with jumpers, back on an old pre-PnP 486 tower. I literally had a piece of paper with my IRQ and DMA channels and what cards they were assigned to, along with similar mappings for memory ranges, so that I could move the jumpers to reasonable locations for the next piece of hardware I added.
If you screwed it up, the new peripheral (and the old one it fought with) just stopped working. And then you got to go remap everything by literally moving a little fiddly piece of plastic from pin to pin on a card you had to open your computer to get at.
Plug-and-Play was huge. I originally griped about it too, back when it meant new hardware wouldn't work in my 486 :-P
Those are some rose-colored glasses there. I remember the plug-n-play days and there was a reason that people nicknamed it plug-n-pray. It wasn't until PCI that plugging boards into PCs became sane.
I occasionally rearranged which IRQs/memory cards used specifically to use fewer jumpers so that I would have enough.
PnP wasn't technically amazing. Yes, PCI was much better. Jumpers sucked.
The PC hardware of 1995 was still quite far behind the Amiga hardware of 1985 (which had 14 bit stereo DMA sound or 4 channel 8 bit DMA sound, 2D hardware acceleration and sprites, and more). The PC operating system of 1995 was starting to equal the Amiga operating system of 1985 (Win95 had separate memory space, which was better than AmigaOS 1.0's shared space -- but otherwise, Win95 was mostly inferior)
I'd wait 1-2 years for cheaper standards. I'd rather pay a little more for getting to the future 10 years in advance.
For the hardware comparison to be fair, you'd need a 1985 PC, I think.
Let's be generous (to the Amiga) and assume a 1995 PC would probably be a 66MHz 80486DX2 with 8MB RAM, a VLB graphics card, and a Soundblaster of some description. Even at the same clock rate, a 486 of this type would handily beat the Amiga just from having a more efficient CPU and from not having a dirty planar framebuffer layout. But as it is, it is clocked 9x faster.
In practice, for 1995, a Pentium would not be THAT unlikely...
That Soundblaster was capable of 8-bit stereo; if you wanted to do anything non trivial like changing the sample rate, or mix more than one channel, that cost you a significant amount of CPU -- and most probably, you couldn't get more than 8 bit no matter what. The amiga had 14 bits (8 bit digital + 6 bit analog scaler, on each of 2 channels per side) in 1985, with hardware mixing.
You wanted a mouse cursor? that was zero cost in 1985's Amiga, thanks to hardware sprites; it was hell to get right on the PC (and while Windows mostly solved that if your app ran on Windows, WHICH WAS NOT A GIVEN in 1995, many apps still had cursor bugs, even in Windows).
Yes, the 1985 68k was slower than the 1995 486. But 2D hardware acceleration made up for a lot of it -- the Amiga 1985 GUI was more responsive than the 1995 Win95 GUI (that's hard to appreciate on emulators today -- you had to use it to believe it).
And finally, multitasking with 512K ram on the Amiga 1000 on AmigaOS 1.0 actually worked properly - way better than Win 3.11 (which was what you had on the PC until 1995), and mostly on par with Win95, even though the latter had MMU separation to help (which 68k did not in 1985, but 68020/AmigaOS 3 did in 1995, IIRC).
Really, look at Amiga games like Shadow of the Beast (1989), Sword of Sodan (1988), The Great Gianna Sisters (1989), and compare it to PC games of 1995.
The Amiga hardware of 1985 was better than the PC hardware of 1995 in every way except raw CPU power.
"Except raw CPU power" is why the Amiga had all the custom junk in the first place - it didn't have the raw CPU power to do without!
(As for the mouse cursor, what need is there for a zero-cost one? Just draw the cursor at the end of the frame, when you're done. No problem. I don't remember any mouse cursor problems in games; presumably they all did what I suggest, because it's the obvious, easy, reliable thing to do.)
Some PC games I remember playing in 1995, or before: Doom II, Hi-Octane, Magic Carpet, Syndicate (the Amiga version of this on a stock Amiga was a sad joke), Command and Conquer, Wing Commander (the Amiga version of this was pretty poor, even on an Amiga 1200), Comanche: Maximum Overkill, Microprose Formula 1 Grand Prix, Stunt Island, various of the X-Wing series, and Indianapolis 500.
Looking at the games you cite, I think the PC ones are much better! Better graphics, due to having more colours or resolution. More interesting play, due to having more CPU time to do interesting stuff. Yes, even better sound, because you've got as many channels as there's CPU time for, and more accurate stereo positioning because of it.
OK, so I like the art direction of Shadow of the Beast. That's about it.
That's simply not true.
Take e.g. Doom II from your list; In order to have double buffering (required for smooth screen update), it had to use http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mode_X which is .. a planar mode even if it is 1-byte per pixel (in a slightly nicer way than the Amiga's planar mode; but switching planes cost an arm and a leg in I/O communication, so to actually work efficiently with it, it was as bad as the Amiga's planar mode).
> If you have raw CPU power, that fixes everything. You don't need a blitter, and you don't need sprites, and you don't need playfields, and you can do your sound mixing on the CPU.
I remember one (1) reasonable multi-level parallax scrolling game for the PC with reasonable performance, but not its name. (I remember it well, because I spent a few afternoons with a debugger trying to figure out how the f*ck they managed). CPU was NOT enough to not need all of these.
Almost all the games you mentioned have a 3D point of view (those that I'm familiar with, anyway) - for which the Amiga's '85 2D acceleration wasn't helpful, of course. But the 2D games of the PC, especially scrollers, were inferior.
Non of them, as far as I can tell, had 3d sound or multi channel stereo mixing in 1995 -- PC mod players back then were struggling to go below 30% CPU (I know, I wrote one of the fastest ones), and no game could afford them.
I released a sideways scroller for the PC in '94, that achieved constant 60fps (with not a lot of CPU to spare) on the 486DX of the time, and a respectable 30fps on the 386 that were still super common. To get that, I needed to use ModeX, used Adlib for music so I can use DMA sample playing for the effects (also, pure adlib was _still_ common enough to warrant support if you didn't have a soundblaster). It needed an awful lot of tricks to get reasonable performance; The graphics engine was all assembly, and some of the game logic too. And I needed continuously recalibrating the int8 timer to get interrupts at the vertical retrace so that everything worked properly without wasting CPU.
I never got to do an Amiga version, but it would have been 100 times simpler. And would have worked equally well on an 1985 Amiga 1000.
Making plug & play work (yes, it's a standard now)?
MS prevailed because at almost every critical junction over the last 30 years they've managed to put together the best collection of compromises that maximized utility for the average computer user.
Look at the evolution of the Macintosh throughout the 1990s and 2000s as a comparison. Through almost every iteration it has continued to try to hew to some "higher" standard than the average PC. When PCs were using IDE Macs were using SCSI. Until Macs started using IDE too. When PCs were using tcp/ip over ethernet Macs were using appletalk, until Macs started using tcp/ip too. Firewire/usb. PowerPC/x86. Etc.
There's a reason why the de facto filesystem for flash drives is FAT32 and it's not just because windows is so popular (if so it would just be ntfs), it's because it represents a well balanced compromise and is dead simple to implement.
Windows has been a fairly decent embodiment of "worse is better" for a long time.
That's revising history. There were plenty of free browsers back then. Netscape itself was derived from NCSA Mosaic which was free.
Microsoft licensed Mosaic from Spyglass, who held the rights by virtue of a deal with the University of Illinois.
Because OpenGL is Not Good, even to this day. It's a brutally fragmented system that's got little going for it except ubiquity; the problems with it are numerous and ugly. (But you can't expect much from something where everything's a frigging GLuint, can you?) It is popular because it's everywhere, not because it's good.
Indeed, I can argue that Bill Gates made computing significantly less affordable to the international world. Today, the cost of a Windows license can be as much as the cost of the hardware. How many people are being shut out of computing because of the forced subsidies OEMs have to give Windows?
AD isn't as bad as IE6, either. And I no longer blame MSFT for IE6 now... it's kept alive by bad, outdated corporate policies.
MS broke or eliminated other authentication modes from Windows, so companies were forced to use AD (with the associated DNS and other infrastructure).
12 years after introduction, there are no stable/viable alternatives. Competition really was exterminated in this case.
People said that of IE6. Then came Firefox and despite it running circles around IE it took years before we could feel any displacement. The problem is there's simply no contender to AD anymore, and that's not by virtue of its quality.
And a whole bunch of other billionaires as well
They were both ruthlessly aggressive, yet also made their product affordable to more people. By the very act of creating a monopoly, Gates created a huge marketplace for applications that attracted investment - better in that sense that a fragmented market place. He didn't abuse it by charging monopoly rates (quite the opposite).
Is a beneficial end through nasty means a net positive? Probably... overall..., but I hesitate - and the fact that both felt compelled to give the money away suggests that they weren't entirely comfortable with how they made it. And it seems most people weren't either.
BTW: video of Gate's response http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FYQxLhlUtr0&t=6m50s (6:50)
On another note, Gates' effect on the tech industry is merely your opinion; the effect of his philanthropic efforts is fact.
Can you unpack your question and add some illustrative examples please? In what way are governments nasty, compared with previous governments?
Gates still leaves his family more than enough to live a comfortable happy life. Whatever his motivation, is purely speculative.
This means it's hanging on, old and crusty and hard to use, when its contemporaries are long dead and thoroughly unlamented.
I hate a lot of Java for this, too. That's not a good idea on my part either. Building this way is a specific market niche and we are all better off that there are products that fit that niche.
You and I are not looking for products in that niche, but we should both give thanks that it exists.
IE6 is still standard because of customer lock-in, it was so littered with quirks and outright bad ideas that it still is very hard to replace and no-one, not even microsoft, is willing to replicate its behaviours.
A prime example of why one should still hate Bill Gates.
AOL completely blew it when they acquired Netscape.
You can't explain a drop from a 85-90% market share to 3-5% over the course of 6 years with shady MS tactics alone.
At the time IE6 was released, every competitor of Internet Explorer had already been pushed out of the marked by the illegal bundling of IE4 and 5 with Windows 98.
Microsoft had a precise Embrace, Extend, Extinguish strategy for the World Wide Web, IE4 was the Embrace, IE5 and IE6 were the Extend and then the IE team was disbanded and the plan was to never release a new version ever again (Extinguish).
So, the reason IE6 is so hard to be compatible with is not just because "it's old" but because it was meant to be hard to be compatible with ("Extend") and it lasted so long because it was never meant to be replaced with anything (Extinguish).
I'm surprised people couldn't see this happen 10 years ago, when Microsoft screwed us over, I'm even more surprised that some people don't see it now that the screwing over has happened. We should learn something from history.
But it's impossible to ignore the way Microsoft reacted to winning the browser wars by shuttering the IE team and leaving web standards effectively adrift until Firefox came along and starting taking market share. Whether you call it reprehensible or want to call it a "good business decision" that just happened to be bad for consumers and the web, that will always be the legacy people remember about IE6.
And active directory is actually quite good.
The fact is, there is no telling what 'true' Internet adoption would be today if it weren't for Bill Gates including IE in Windows. I am not saying that it wouldn't be the same, but you can't jump to the conclusion that it would be.
We all use and love the internet because mainstream has adopted it. Bill Gates is a fundamental reason that the mainstream has adopted it.
That's Bill's tragedy. To be remembered as the guy who never had a really original idea...
(burn, karma, burn)
Wouldn't paying penance involve actually doing good in the world? So far as I can tell he's basically an overgrown man-child whose using his billions to basically enslave low-income minorities via school 'reforms'.
Plus he's made a lot of investments into technologies to help third world countries, which have mostly been a bust.
The net loss to society from this is far greater than the value of whatever money Bill Gates is trying to throw around after the fact.
You present little data and much hand-waving to back that claim up.
That is a simply insane stance, if you really believe that.
I have followed what Google has done all these years for the web. And what Apple has done in the mobile computing. It's all awesome.
But when I look around as a human and see what Bill's foundation has done to simply eradicate malaria and polio from my nearby villages which were the hub of these diseases only a couple of years ago. It's amazing. It's far too easy (even as an engineer) to ignore his previous short-comings.
And what a resume Mr. Gates has - Personal Computing, conquering the enterprise and now polio + malaria. Man's in God Mode.
I was in contact with computers quite early, as at 7 or 8, playing games on green and black monitors, doing some report printing on OS 7 Macintosh, programming some small stuff at school for belts and robotic arms on TO-8 dinosaurs reading K7 tapes.
But I never really cared, it was just some tool sitting on the desk. You used it, got done and just forget it. I preferred to play outside.
It was relentless nights trying to create full reports on win 95 in Word and Excel(what a wonderful name) that taught me that a modern computer was not just a tool that did what it had to, and you could forget about it afterwards.
Even doing mundane things like formatting properly white space in a report, removing programs that annoys you, installing the right drivers for you modem and just have it work, having the OS stay up more than 8 hours straight needed quite a lot knowledge, dedication, and problem solving skills.
I thought for the first time that all this was not something that just works by itself, but needs a lot of talent, and the world must have been really short of that talent for a long time.
I just thought, you could actually dedicate a life making computers actually do what you want them to do.
And I became a programmer.
To me it seems like many people laud his charity efforts, but for them it's frequently an unexamined praise because "charity" is an effective applause light. It's hard to imagine that much cash attached to a charity not doing something good. (For some older criticisms, see http://blog.givewell.org/category/gates-foundation/ There's also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_%26_Melinda_Gates_Foundati... )
Anyway, it's worth remembering why people didn't like him in the first place. Most of those reasons have to do with long-term effects of our world, not petty things like he ate toe fungus or yelled at someone. It's not like Bill Gates stole some candy which is easy to redeem for, it's like he (excuse the very loose analogy) killed people, which is much harder to make up for and has longer (in that case, permanent for the dead person) consequences. I think Erik Naggum captured part of the problem of Gates as opposed to Microsoft pretty well in one of his rants: http://www.xach.com/naggum/articles/3141310154691952@naggum....
"the problem I see is not that Bill Gates has shaped the world of useless
trinkets in software, but has also managed to spread his competitiveness
and his personal fear of losing to imaginary competitors to businesses
and homes everywhere, so now everybody is _afraid_ of losing some battle
which isn't happening, instead of getting about their own lives. like,
if you aren't using today's fad language in the very latest version of
the IDE, you'll be left behind. aaaugh!"
"What if Apple had decided not to port iTunes to Windows back in 2003?"
Let's pretend that the iPod stayed Firewire 400 - Macintosh users only. Would we have seen the explosion in iPod sales later in the decade? Would there have been enough money and courage to press ahead with the development of the iPhone?
Let's look at your specific examples. BeOS was a beautiful and elegant OS, but from what I've heard it was a nightmare to develop for. Even today there are holdouts who continue to run FreeBSD and even AmigaOS and OS/2 but that doesn't seem to be the case with BeOS. Somehow, despite its excellence along one particular axis it missed out on enough other necessities to stunt its popularity. I don't think you can rest that failure entirely on MS's shoulders.
As far as Win 9x vs. OS/2 and NT, that's another case where things are not so simple. Windows 95 was a grand compromise. It was a bit of the next generation OS core along the lines of NT with a few carefully crafted modifications designed to provide a better balance of the characteristics and features that were the most important for the average user.
When you run a 16-bit application in NT or OS/2 you have a 2 to 4mb overhead per application due to the VM. This is all fine and dandy if you have enough ram, but back in 1995 4mb of ram was a several hundred dollar investment. In 1995 the next consumer version of Windows was faced with that crisis. How do you bring up the level of the OS to a modern foundation (from DOS/Win 3.x) in a world where the vast majority of users are still running quite a lot of 16-bit applications without forcing a crazily impractical and expensive minimum system requirement in terms of RAM on customers? The answer that Windows 95 came up with was a combination of a shared VM for all 16-bit apps along with some serious assembly level manual performance optimization to a lot of components. This allowed the Windows 95 minimum system requirements to be a mere 4mb total, which was well within what a lot of consumers had on their existing systems.
The result was one of the most successful software products of all time. It's easy to look back on Windows 95 and see its flaws but in its time it was a very solid offering at a consumer level.
Of course there were things that MS did wrong (especially on the business side of things) but the whole hatred thing is, in my opinion, more like a kind of pop-culture than something based on facts. Just look at Xbox360 - it only took to not advertise it as a Microsoft creation and kids who ridicule Windows on a day-to-day basis are now "Halo fanboys".
As for the Jobs quotes - if these were taken as some kind of a gospel or a road sign we all should hate Android by now. Actually, it amazes me that Jobs is so glorified here, while Gates always gets the flack - after all the word "hacker" suits the latter a lot more.
MS has terrible taste (as Jobs famously pointed out), and a lot of people hate companies with a bad sense of fashion and taste. That's a big reason why people hate walmart, I expect.
MS has been a bully and has used its size to gain an unfair advantage from time to time. However, in general I'd say that MS is actually less guilty of this sort of thing than the average run-of-the-mill company of a similar size. Compare and contrast with, say, AEG, Bank of America, or Archer-Daniels-Midland for example. On a properly calibrated evil-o-meter MS hardly registers.
Finally, it's easy to develop a strong mental picture of a hypothetical "better" world, even if that world is wholly impractical. There are fundamental reasons why linux, to this day, is still not the best choice for the average consumer desktop. Even down to a fundamental technological design level there are good reasons why that's so (though there's also android, which still has a delicious linux core). The truth is that "the man" hasn't been holding back electric car technology, solar power, and linux on the desktop merely to prop up big oil and Microsoft. Sometimes it takes time for competing technologies to mature to a level to where they are actually competitive. Linux has done awesomely in the server market, for example, even despite MS's massive expenditures to make substantial inroads.
I like XP and still use it, but it doesn't fit into the thread about MS halting innovation during the 90's.
The fact that no other OS was perfect is irrelevant. They never had a chance, no matter if the were good or great, from lowly DOS clones all the way up to modern OSs because MS didn't allow it via a bag of dirty tricks.
The IBM requirement was even more onerous because IBM had linked OS/2 with PS/2 Microchannel hardware. IBM had this locked up with patents and could have used it to to control the entire PC industry had it caught on. So everyone else in the 'open' PC world had an interest in seeing OS/2-PS/2 fail.
(IBM was the last major vendor to offer PC-based server hardware because they were trying to protect their midrange machines. I think if OS/2 had taken over, they would have prevented the entire x86 server market from getting off the ground until much later than it did.)
Doesn't shock me that he's donating his money by the billions.
Am I the only one who read that and thought, 'Wow, Steve Jobs could be a bit of an asshole'...?
[*] he wasn't poor, probably more than middle class; in any case, there's no doubt he's self-made
Sure, but a large part of the reason he was "self-made" was his mother's relationship to an IBM executive. I'm not so sure Bill Gates becomes the world's richest man if his mother was a teacher and his father was a plumber.
Umm, just read some of the comments on this article? Or any Microsoft related posts on Slashdot?
The fact that microsoft's technology is more or less irelevant to anybody who works outside of the internal corporate ecosystem these days is a nice, and fitting testament to Gates' failures. Kudos to him to leaving the industry to do something more useful with his cash at the right time. Jobs appaears to have died at a fitting time, considering he never had to re-position himself the way that gates' has had to. <disclaimer>I have relatives who benefit from the B&MG foundation</disclaimer>
Beside they are not thief, its business. Apple products are far more expensive than Microsoft, the difference between 16GB & 32GB iPhones are not justified. People have a notion that Mac OS is far more refined than Windows. Well I feel they are wrong, windows 7 is far more customizable & stable on many devices etc than Mac OS. Apple is a good hardware company, they build brillant product that you can look & feel but they are not good at softwares. Mac OS is an extension of unix under a limited environment where as Ms Windows which was build in house can virtually run on any machine.
I am not a Microsoft Fan but using Ms products for quite some time, I always liked Apple's products, I would say Steve just knows how to sell. A good example is the way he packaged & sold the 1st iMac in a translucent box which looked amazing, with the same hardware inside.
Now when I started exploring the world of Apple I realized its little too over hyped that what its actually worthy of.
If you think about it now, Steve Jobs had more failures than Bill. Both had ups & downs but I feel Bill was more consistent when he was at Microsoft.
Jobs made great products.. but Bill felt like a more consistent person.
Is anyone naive enough to believe that if bill gates didn't end up crushing the competition as he did during Microsoft's rise, some one else would not have done so ? Sure, we may/may not have Microsoft as powerful, but there would have been some other draconian-soft to fill the void.
And though we should probably not pull Jobs in to this, if we are to imagine Jobs at the head of Microsoft when it is in a position to crush competition, I can't imagine Jobs (and many other business leaders) deciding otherwise (going by the current set of apple law suits). It's just like the lord of the rings - doesn't matter who wears the ring. The heady power of the monopoly is just like the ring (the governmental laws for fair competition should be such a way that they never form). If monopolies do form, there is no point blaming individuals for that.
The App Store removed a dictionary app (don't remember the name) that had foul language in it, really? I like that the App Store ensures quality from an operational perspective, BUT I hate that they can filter out content of the apps that they personally don't agree (illegal items excluding). Where does the line get drawn? Now with this sandboxing for the MacOs App Store apps it seems that they are creating a gate keeper like iPhone apps. Apple tries to block competing apps on its iTunes store while if Microsoft did the same people would scream bloody murder. I hate the word fanboi but I see quite a few Apple ones that after he passed like he was some saint, he was a business man don't forget. Holy shit.
Yeah Bill Gates did questionable things to get where he was but I respect him more for not being and arrogant dick about the products he releases, and now he is GIVING most of his wealth away. Steve Jobs was quoted as saying philanthropy would be distracting, and understandably stopped the charity program when the company was on the urge of bankruptcy but never reinstated it when it was flying high. I respect Apple more now that Tim Cook is in charge for re-instating the charity program.
Did I like Steve Jobs? No he was arrogant and kind of an asshole, traits I don't admire. But I respected him for taking quality products to market and marketing it to people making them think they absolutely needed it. I say he made technology fashionable, and fashion changes every season. That was good for business.
That his company produced a whole raft of wretched technologies is germane, but hardly dispositive.
He might be a nice guy on a personal level, and he is redeeming himself in many ways now in general, but there was a time when it was certainly justified to, if not hating him, then at least detesting what he stood for as a business person.
That said, overall my image of him today is vastly more positive than it was, and as much as his net impact on my life still has been negative, his net impact on the world has almost certainly been strongly positive - after all, the number of deaths he's prevented through is charitable work most certainly matters more than having deprived privileged people like me a few technology choices.
That's why I hate Microsoft.
Btw, what other operating systems are available on the Macbook? Other than now MS because people want to play new computer games on their Macbooks and they can't with Apple's OS.
This is classic Microsoft practice, and this is why so many people hate the company. I don't hate Bill, and I'm sure most people don't hate him personally either, but he was CEO of this company that has made many, many bad things happen.
If the story is true, then Microsoft is simply making an offer. Either it's worth enough to the magazine to place a Microsoft ad without being paid for it, and they accept the offer; or it isn't, and they reject it. It's not like Microsoft was trying to get them to drop competitors' ads or something.
There's just no evil there. Maybe it would be nice of them pour cash they don't have to let go of into a startup magazine, but Microsoft isn't a charity. If their PR department can sell someone on the idea of running ads for them for free, that's not evil, it's just good salesmanship.
I might as well complain that I'm not getting a check from Apple when I go places with my laptop and its glowing logo. Never mind that on the whole, buying this computer was a beneficial transaction for me – just look at all this free advertising I'm giving them!
I've been a small-time publisher for over a decade now, on and off, and I have been approached by brand advertisers a number of times in different capacities with exactly this argument. The first few times, I reacted the same way. But one time, the pitch came from a friend, who took me aside and told me that this isn't just some line brands use to get free ads -- it's actually true, and I should do it. So I did. Figured my friend wasn't trying to screw me.
He was right. I made a few big sales soon thereafter, using the free-run brand in my pitch.
I feel like people often conflate people with their creations and forget that they both are human beings who change, evolve and behave differently under different contexts.
I mean, they both are/were great visionaries and their greatness was manifested in different ways just like their weaknesses in personalities. They both created lasting companies which changed the world at an age where most of us are still figuring out what to do with our lives.
You don't have to hate BillG in order to like Steve Jobs or vice versa.
I personally find inspiring traits in both of them.
And much of the moaning about Microsoft's so-called monopolies just sounds like sour grapes.
As for the the whole redemption through philanthropy thing, it's fun to watch the wealthy compete in the legacy game. Go Bill!
Until recently, Apple was also the biggest polluter in their sector and their philanthropic side is non-existent.
That and, does nobody remember that Jobs ripped off Xerox?
"Every OS wastes your time, from the desktop to the lap. Everything since abacus, just a bunch of crap. From Mackintosh to Microsoft to Lin, Line, Lin, Line-ux. Every computer crashes, cause every OS sucks!"
There's nothing more materialist than associating virtue with the scale of one's donations.
For being a part of Internet Explorer. I just cant let it go!
"Trust, but verify."
and as Ben Franklin once said, "Keep your eyes on it, and feel for your hatchet." I'd add to keep the other hand on your wallet.
Since leaving Microsoft, Gates and his wife Melinda have made their foundation into one of the world's premier charities. Since 1994, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation amassed an endowment of more than $31 billion in funds to fight the world's most difficult issues. But it hasn't merely accumulated funds, the foundation has already given away more than $25 billion, as Wessel notes in his HBR essay.
I don't know what Jobs did with his money. He may well have been a substantial donor to many a good cause. But at the end of his life, he was focused on business, while Gates is focused on broader and ultimately more significant concerns.
In a note to the members of the Harvard community, Gates wrote, "I hope you will reflect on what you've done with your talent and energy. I hope you will judge yourselves not on your professional accomplishments alone, but also on how well you work to address the world's deepest inequities, on how well you treat people a world away who have nothing in common with you but their humanity."
Am I to think more of him if he gave away more money than Steve Jobs? What a ridiculous notion. If you buy that argument, I ask you to think less of him because he spent fewer of the limited number of hours of his lifetime on philanthropy than some of the people who inherited a fortune and spend their lives on charitable causes. Or less of him because he didn’t minister to the sick and needy in Calcutta’s slums.
Each person can be judged on their own merits. I have nothing against admiring Mr. Gates, and I don’t think we need to drag Mr. Jobs or anybody else into the discussion.
"Bill is basically unimaginative and has never invented anything, which is why I think he’s more comfortable now in philanthropy than technology"
I've always considered charity to be a personal thing, and if Jobs didn't want to give it away, well that was his money, and his decision. However, attacking Gates for helping eradicate polio / malaria is simply unnecessary, and comes off as a childish retort.
If Bill never invented anything, I'm not sure Jobs did either. Sure, Jobs dreamt up the iPod and the iPhone, but telling engineers what to do is not the same as inventing.
Or you can agree with Jobs but say that the world is still a better place for what Bill has done. Also great, next question.
Either way, why waste time worrying about something a dead man said? Jobs is maggot-food now. Gates is here with us.
Decide for yourself whether you like or dislike Gates. I can easily do so without worrying whether Jobs liked him or not. And I can easily decide to admire what Jobs did or didn’t accomplish without worrying whether he had anything of value to say outside of his field of expertise.
Anyways, like I said, I’m supportive of people admiring what Mr. Gates is doing with his life today. And really, what he did with his life (past tense) is done, finished, no way to unwind it, so why worry about it. All I’m saying is, worrying about how it compares to Jobs or what Jobs said... This is not the best way to think about Mr. Gates, who deserves to be judged for his contribution just the way it is.
"Either way, why waste time worrying about something a dead man said? Jobs is maggot-food now. Gates is here with us."
While I usually don't care for the Gates vs. Jobs arguments that particular statement irked me, because its not just a slight against Gates, its an indirect attack on the field of philanthropy itself. And Jobs' words have the power to influence many.
It turns out people are... People. So I get why you are dismayed at the thought of people carrying Jobs’ statement around in their heads, just as I am dismayed at the thought of looking at Mr. Gates’s choices in comparison with Mr. Jobs choices.
>“Bill is basically unimaginative and has never invented anything, which is why I think he’s more comfortable now in philanthropy than technology
That does seem like a cheap dig to me against someone that is doing very important work in the third world. I guess Bill Gates gets a bigger thrill saving a hundred thousand of the poorest 10% of the world from suffering with AIDS or dying from malaria or starvation rather than sell an extra ten million phones or tablets to the richest 10% of the world.
>Am I to think more of him if he gave away more money than Steve Jobs? What a ridiculous notion. If you buy that argument, I ask you to think less of him because he spent fewer of the limited number of hours of his lifetime on philanthropy than some of the people who inherited a fortune and spend their lives on charitable causes. Or less of him because he didn’t minister to the sick and needy in Calcutta’s slums.
I think that when it comes to a human quality like selflessness and empathy there's nothing wrong with thinking more of people like Mother Teresa, and next billionaires who contribute a lot of their money or time to charitable contributions. You don't need to think of less of anyone to respect good qualities in others.
Even Jobs took the help of philanthropic causes like the Hare Rama Hare Krishna temple's free meals to the poor.
From his Standford commencement address:
>It wasn't all romantic. I didn't have a dorm room, so I slept on the floor in friends' rooms, I returned coke bottles for the 5¢ deposits to buy food with, and I would walk the 7 miles across town every Sunday night to get one good meal a week at the Hare Krishna temple. I loved it.
>Stanford Commencement Address, 12 Jun 2005
Anyway my personal theory is that Bill Gates had enough being on top of the world in the late 1990s and early 2000s that me moved on to bigger things, eradicating preventable diseases like malaria/AIDS and helping the poorest of the poor and felt it was a better use of his time and money for a higher ideal in life.
Jobs had to prove himself after coming back to Apple and Apple is just now taking off under his stewardship and he's still too involved in Apple's day to day operations. I definitely believe he would have had the time and inclination to do better for the third world in his later years after leading success to Apple if he had survived his totally unfortunate cancer that cut his life short. He simply didn't have enough time.
It's not as warm and fuzzy, and it's not as altruistic, but instigating a technological and economic revolution will always alleviate poverty and sell phones and tablets. In Gates' case, reinvesting his personal fortune back into philanthropy may have an even greater impact, but don't ignore the impact he made by building that fortune.
If you don’t admire Mr. Jobs in whole or in part, that’s entirely a personal affair, how can I argue with the shape of your soul?
If you want to argue with Mr. Jobs because you disagree with something he said about Mr. Gates, well, you missed your chance. He’s dead.
I am personally far more interested in the things either man said that were insightful or otherwise useful for you and I to move forward and accomplish the things we think are important. I’m not convinced that worrying about their foibles is on the road from where I am today to where I want to be tomorrow, so, I must beg to take your leave.
So I believe Jobs saying the equivalent of "Those that can , do technology and those that can't, do charity." sends a very wrong message to many budding entrepreneurs who may go on to become super rich in the future. An influential man's words live on beyond his grave and influence people. This is not about disparaging him as much as disagreeing with him on that particular opinion, which many people here seem unable to do.
“Do not follow in the footsteps of Mr. Wozniak, Mr. Jobs, or Mr. Gates: Seek what they sought."
They deploy the same nasty tactics that the company does.
That is not a charity.
If a man has a billion dollars and gives half away he's smart, he makes himself look good (buying it) and yet experiences no pain or personal downside in exchange. In effect it cost him nothing. While I'm glad he did it, I'm also not impressed. Also it seems to be rare that someone becomes a billionaire without being an asshole and screwing over other people along the way, whether employees, partners or competitors. So this makes me even less impressed. Also I know several people who have much less wealth, who didn't come from Gates silver spoon background, yet perform charity and never engaged in the shady pratices, or shoddy craftsmanship, that Microsoft and Gates have done. So again, color me not impressed, and everything needs to be evaluated in the context of the larger ecosystem, and what everybody else out there is doing.
Mel Gibson has issues with antisemitism, racism, sexism, violence and is also one hell of an actor and a pretty good philanthropist as well.
Life isn't a comic book. People don't neatly fit into the category of hero or villain.
As for Steve Jobs. He kept his head down and kept working. And when you talk about CEOs you're talking about 24 hours a day working. No time to start funds and foundations.
But where did Job's money go? He apparently lived very simply. Is his family just really filthy rich? It seems odd. Maybe it was a strange thing where he ignored that he had money and didn't want to think about? Maybe he was stockpiling it because he was poor or sick.
Just a bunch of speculation.
Just to point out, joking. Timeline doesn't work, and Windows isn't so bad.
When Microsoft had control of the world's technology they had a choice. They could backtrack and use their enormous money reserves and 90% or more profit margins to make their products stable and reliable or they could stay the course. They chose to stay the course.
As a result people were forced to use systems that really didn't work. Yes Windows 7 crashes less than Windows 3.11 but if Microsoft had adequately tested Windows 3.11 it wouldn't have crashed so much and Windows 7 wouldn't crash at all. Think about it. How much more stable would Windows be if Microsoft had made a still respectable 20% profit rather than 90%?
People cite Apple's hardware/software coupling as a reason for its stability but let me ask you this: How many malware/virus outbreaks were brought on by Hardware flaws in the PC?
Now you have 2 generations that have grown accustomed to crap. People who shrug off their DVR locking up or their phone crashing because they're used to it. Technology has come to mean unreliable. Much of Apple's popularity has been based around the idea that Apple products "Just Work". Because in our modern world working correctly has become a rarity.
And that's Microsoft's fault. They set the tone.
And how much has that tone cost us? How much good technology could be implemented if people trusted it more? How much further could we have gone if we could have focused more of humanity's intelligence on Curing Cancer and less on Curing the newest malware that exploits one of the endless bugs in Windows?
As far as his charitable contributions I'd point to the enormous amount of money spent fixing problems with Microsoft's crappy software and ask this: How much of that IT money would people have donated to charity if they hadn't lost it maintaining shoddy solutions? I don't know the answer but between viruses, malware, and Windows bugs you have 300 billion a year in the U.S. alone. It wouldn't take a large percentage of that to match the roughly $60 billion in Gates' personal fortune.
So don't tell me Gates is Superman because he's not.
The alternatives aren't perfect.
Now you have 2 generations that have grown accustomed to crap. People who shrug off their DVR locking up or their phone crashing because they're used to it. Technology has come to mean unreliable. Much of Apple's popularity has been based around the idea that Apple products "Just Work". Because in our modern world working correctly has become rarity.
Obviously some DVR manufacturer's incompetence is Bill Gates' fault. Someone here already made a Hitler comparison so this must be regarded as praise.
And how much has that tone cost us? How much good technology could be implemented if people trusted it more? How much further could we have gone if we could have focused more of humanity's intelligence on Curing Cancer and less on Curing the newest malware that exploits one of the endless bugs in Windows?
0. Now that the world is such a better place because the disruptive tech guys are using macs, how much of society's brain-power has gone into eradicating polio and malaria ? 0.
It is a very easy to trivialize the problem of wiping a disease off the face of the earth, attacking resource allocation in Africa and then taking aim at another disease.
My family couldn't afford a $1k+ mac in the 90s - that was an upper-middle class monthly income in India. Thank god for windows.
EDIT : formatting
If your family made the equivalent of Rs. 50,000 monthly in the 90s in India, they were definitely upper class, not upper middle class.
I suppose I must be better off than I thought. I can't afford a Ferrari, so I must be doing really well for myself.
Reply: Your family was making $1k/month? You were wealthy!
The logical flow here is the same as if I said, "I can't afford a Ferrari" and someone replied with "you can afford a Ferrari!?"
reply: a family making $1k/month is upper class actually
Also, the sort of people who use macs now either don't use Windows at all or only use it at work which means they're either comparing mac os to an old version of Windows or to an annoyingly locked down work version.
On the topic of Windows: I've never had Windows crash since like 2004. ME, 2000, XP, Vista, 7 - all stable and reliable. I DID have a lot of third party apps that make the hodge podge soup on my hard drive crash, and that can't be avoided since not everyone works for Microsoft.
P.S. Windows 98 crashed sometimes, though and I needed to restore the registry once a year - don't know what that was about, but switching to ME got rid of the issues.
Also, I haven't had windows crash on me since Vista.
That's the first time I've ever heard anyone say that.
Sure Microsoft have done things that today look bad, but holy crap look at what we have today. Just look at it. Microsoft (alongside other companies) are part of what we have today, they pioneered a lot and changed the future. Discounting that all for some buggy software? jeez.