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How Can Anyone Still Hate Bill Gates? (alearningaday.com)
315 points by rrohan189 on Nov 4, 2011 | hide | past | web | favorite | 255 comments



We've had this trope before - Andrew Carnegie, for example. Gates is just copying the idea...

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.


It's hypothetical to say Gates held back innovation. Period. There is no way to arrive on what the world would be now if for e.g Bill didn't create Microsoft. I respect Jobs but admire Gates. The fact is, he contributed in making PCs affordable. Yes, the world could have had better technologies if not for Microsoft but you don't know that would have happened. It's always easy to imagine better things but reality is way different.

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.


> he contributed in making PCs affordable

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)


On the love of Jobs vs hate of Gates (or Microsoft), I am currently reading Steve Jobs biography, and I found a passage that highlights Apple as hypocrites quite more efficiently than anything I might say :

" 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 ideas.” "


Given Jobs' reaction to e.g. Android, that is, in the Apple parlance, "stunning".


It's all about stuff like "the winner writes history" and "the best marketing/coolest looking guy" too.

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.


"hit android until its dead lying on the floor"

You know Microsoft collects nearly a half billion a year from patents relating to android?


You know Bill Gates left Microsoft before the first Android phone shipped?


You're being too literal with the quote. The long form of that quote, which is in the link[1] that Bratwurst provided, is a lot closer to what Steve meant.

[1]: http://www.businessofdesignonline.com/picasso-good-artists-c...


I was confused by the quote too. I did some searching - The TS Elliot quote is what I think of when I think of Mac vs Windows, and iPhone vs Android.

http://www.businessofdesignonline.com/picasso-good-artists-c...

Also:

http://nancyprager.wordpress.com/2007/05/08/good-poets-borro...


I also should add this link. http://www.sitepoint.com/copy-great-designers-steal/

Case Study 3 is fun.


I have no issue with people hating Gates, but I hate how people mindlessly hate Gates whilst worshipping Jobs. I think there's in an argument that Apple holding back manufacturers through no-competes has a larger negative effect than anything Microsoft did, albeit in different markets.


The difference is between shitty products crowding out competition and great products crowding out competition. Therein lies the axis of opinion I think.


"Great" products preventing even better products from coming to market is no better than shitty products preventing better products from coming to market. And the reason for that is that the goalposts for "great" are very easy to move. Once people see that something is better, they quickly demote the old "great".

And that said, Safari on iOS may well be a case of shitty products crowding out competition. Can you get a browser with the stock iOS WebKit but the V8 JS engine on there instead of JavaScriptCore? Nope. Can you get a browser supporting web features that the stock WebKit on iOS doesn't happen to support? Nope. Lots of other things that could be done much better than Mobile Safari.... and yet they can't be, because such apps could not be offered through the Apple app store.


I think plenty of Apple products are pretty shitty -- though perhaps not always quite as shitty as Microsoft products.


It sounds like you've never payed much attention to the antitrust actions against Microsoft.

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.


I'm aware of Microsoft's anti trust actions and I'm not a fan of their then anti competitive stance. But still BGates, as a person has and been doing some wonderful things and people need to appreciate that instead of mindless hate and not seeing beyond an ideology.

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.


I downvoted you because you're throwing everyone in the same bucket of straw men.

> 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.


I'm completely fine with people admiring all three for their good. In fact, I do so. But I'm critical of one taking different stances just because of the people involved and not based on the merit of the discussion. You can see this contradiction occasionally in HN.

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.


> 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.


Worshiping either Jobs or Gates is silly, and hating Gates requires ignoring his philanthropic work. But I also don't think you should admire Gates unless you think he believes that his riches are at least in part ill-gotten. If he thinks he earned or deserves to be so rich, then he's just a jerk who's now using his money to rehabilitate his public image - a mixed bag not worth using as a role model of good or bad.


s/if for e.g Bill/if, e.g., Bill/

http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/e.g.


agree


I 'm not sure how any rational account of Gates' legacy can be negative. He helped make computers affordable internationally, paving the way for their explosive mass adoption. Even with internet explorer, it introduced the internet to thousands of people. Computers (windows computers) have increased productivity dramatically since the 80s, so much that the cost of having to modify HTML for IE6 is relatively negligible.


Did he help make computers affordable internationally?

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.


I didn't downvote you, but I'llgive a counter argument.

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.


"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."

We now have Google entering your market and offering a better product for free.


Oh no we don't. Claims that Google Docs are better than MS Office are total BS. The free price comes at the expense of your privacy which in invaded by personalized ads. Not to mention much of the world still runs offline whereas Google assumes de facto connectivity in most things they do.

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.


The free price comes at the expense of your privacy which in invaded by personalized ads.

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.


> Oh no we don't. Claims that Google Docs are better than MS Office are total BS.

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.


I was referring to the fear, not the actual products. If Google entering your market doesn't scare you, you are either a fool or lucky to be in a defensible position.


And discontinuing it a year later.


haha


> Gates foresaw that by licensing the OS and allowing it to run on any IBM PC compatible computer it would commodify HW.

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.


DOS was a clone of CP/M in the same way as Linux is a clone of Unix ... it preserved some compatibility, but the internals were rewritten from scratch. And that's not a clone in my view.

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.


> I also played with a Z80 computer - those things were useless.

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!?!?


The point is there were other players with OS's similar to DOS ready to license it. E.g. remember the controversy over how Digital Research supposedly lost out on the contract with IBM? The market for CP/M like OS's (of which DOS is/was one) was not confined to Microsoft. To believe that in that environment if you were to take Microsoft out of the equation nobody else would step in (quickly) seems ludicrous to me.


You want to talk about revisionism and all you do is speculate about what would have happened without microsoft doing this or that.


> 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.

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.


I think by supporting an enourmous range of hardware they did a titanian task. Apple never had to tackle that problem.


The turning point was when Microsoft licensed DOS to Compaq. This suddenly send hardware prices tumbling and made computers cheap enough to penetrate the corners of the world. This even made Linux possible in the early 90s by leverage cheap hardware. All(or most) of the other solutions were software/hardware tie-ups like Apple and Commodore. Even Apple started taking advantage of this by switching to x86 processors. Also, to MS' credit, they never got tempted to get into the PC hardware market(unlike Google with Android/Motorola) that would've skewed things.

If you think Apple's prices are high now, think what would happen if there no other PC OEMs.


Digital Research licensed CP/M to everyone; CP/M machines were more varied in hardware than PCs of the time, but CP/M software _was_ portable.

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.


BeOS died because Jobs torpedoed their negotiations with Apple with his return from NeXT. Prior to that, the odds were good that BeOS would become the next OS for Macs.


Apple was the last-chance for BeOS. They were actually gaining ground with PC channels, until Microsoft declared that anyone selling a non-pure-windows system (including dual boots that default to windows) will lose their discount on the Windows OEM license.

Guess how many PCs were sold with BeOS after that happened? At that point, it was Apple or bust. And then it was bust.


There were several DOS alternatives available. Hadn't Microsoft been there, someone else would have filled that niche quickly. It is simply highly unlikely that removing Microsoft from that equation would have made all that much difference given just how competitive that part of the OS market was.


That's great and all...but they did, not somebody else.

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.


The did because they got in there first, not because nobody else where willing to license theirs, so this is bogus argument. The whole point is that original claim I addressed about Microsoft making computers affordable is based on the assumption that Microsoft somehow provided something unique at the time. They did not.

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.


Nonsense. Whether someone else could have exerted a similar downward pressure on the cost of computers does not change that Microsoft did. "Could have" is worth very little.


As mentioned above, there were other OSs and DOS implementations. Nothing unique about MS except their agressiveness.


...and that they succeeded.


>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.


I think this is a lot of what people are missing. Microsoft did things differently, and because of that, were successful. Whether or not you agree with their business tactics, their contribution was undeniable.


I don't think anyone here is questioning Microsoft's success. The question is more whether the tactics used by Microsoft to achieve that success (and the consequences of that success for people who weren't Microsoft employees) were admirable or despicable.


I don't think it's binary. They had more than one tactic. Their initial tactics were admirable. Long term, their tactics tended towards despicable. But then again, most large corporations fall down that hole.


How about when Microsoft made it so Windows wouldn't run on DR-DOS?

Though it may not have made too much difference in the long run, given the need to get away from the DOS based architecture.


Wasn't the turning point when the IBM PC spec was reverse engineered which allowed for clones?


The IBM PC spec was included with the IBM PC (or sold for $100 or so). Schematics, BIOS source code, everything. IBM was meticulously documenting everything, and that was actually common and expected at the time (e.g. I had the same info about my ZX Spectrum; I remember the same info was available for the Apple][ and C-64 at the time).

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.


The Unix model of innovation didn't work. We wound up with a zillion fragmented versions, and writing applications that had to run on multiple platforms was a terrible, expensive task. There are few companies left from this era; one exception of note is Oracle.

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.


"We wound up with a zillion fragmented versions, and writing applications that had to run on multiple platforms was a terrible, expensive task."

Sounds like Windows to me.


No. Not even close.

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.


Reminded me of the video where a guy did a fresh install of Windows 1.0 and upgraded all the way to Windows 7. An amazing amount of programs still ran by the time he got to 7.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vPnehDhGa14


For values of Unix approximating Linux or BSD, your programs come with sources, and/or have been incrementally updated along with the OS. There are very few specific applications from 15 years ago that I have any interest in running, though there are capabilities I had and/or syntaxes I might want to use/rely on.

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.


I meant: Windows is designed to support a gazillion hardware platforms, and Microsoft goes to great lengths to make that happen. I guess I wasn't very clear.


Are you kidding me?

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.


> Is that what you call a convicted monopolist

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.


"There is nothing illegal or immoral about having a monopoly. It is the natural state of affairs for many markets."

If you are saying that what's natural is necessarily moral, you are committing the "naturalistic fallacy" (aka the "is-ought" fallacy)[1] 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.

[1] - https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Naturalistic_...


As with so many bits of Microsoft history - don't look at what is replacing Microsoft, look at what Microsoft replaced.

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
Microsoft Office was quite good from the get go. WordPerfect may have been better, but Office was more affordable. It won on merits, and although later they preserved this newly acquired monopoly through proprietary formats, Office is a pretty good product.

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.


Not even close. WP was far superior to Word. WP didn't win out because WP Corp didn't make the jump to Windows fast enough.

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.


> Office is a pretty good product.

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.


Most people don't really care about most of the things you mentioned. Office was and is still stable, useful and easy enough for most people and businesses.


Ever wonder why it was so hard to find a Dell/OEM with Linux, OS/2, or BeOS, instead of Windows?

http://www.birdhouse.org/beos/byte/30-bootloader/


but the central issue in US vs. Microsoft at the time was the bundling of their own browser with their operating system. i'm not saying that there weren't other anticompetitive practices going on at the time. but apple essentially does the same thing with safari, and there are some instances with OSX where one can't override the default browser with another.

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?


"Predatory practices" or whatever you want to call bundling stuff with the operating system - is not against the law.

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.


I never understood what was wrong with bundling the browser with the OS. Every OS comes with a bundled browser, including Ubuntu, FreeBSD, OS X, the iPod, the Kindle, darn near everything. I'm annoyed that there's no bundled browser in my Roku box.


They were not convicted for giving a browser free with their OS. They forced their OEMs to supply with only IE, and not with Netscape. If the OEMs supplied with Netscape they would lose volume discounts & mktg money.

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.


I think everyone understands your point, but for future reference he grew a conscience cf. conscious.


Guess how I learned about and downloaded Netscape on Windows back in the mid 90s?



"Smart companies try to commoditize their products' complements"

Nice. Explains Google commoditizing mobile operating systems (complement) to increase demand for their product (search).


Search is not their product; adspace is.


It's not rational either to only necessarily netting his contribution in the positive.

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?


Surely Microsoft innovated, in a less-than-spectacular way most of the times with things like direct3d, plug-n-play etc. They added tcp/ip stack to windows and created internet explorer, even brought the internet directly to the desktop initially. While they did use their monopoly to push their products thus eliminating rivals, they did not directly block competition. You could still install netscape and windows is still a very open platform. I 'm not going to defend MS monopoly tactics of course, or make a scientific account of microsoft's pros and cons, but Windows had competitors in the open market, and yet they prevailed, not always because they were the better system, but they were not significantly worse than others.

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?


Adding TCP/IP to Windows was an innovation? Winsock was pretty much lifted from BSD. The API is so compatible that you can target both with a simple include file to #define away some differences (that's a good thing, but it hardly indicates innovation on Microsofts side), largely because Windows can't easily support the equivalence between filehandles and sockets that implementing the BSD socket API 1:1 relies on.


I didnt list it as an innovation. It sped up the adoption of internet technologies.


like direct3d

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? :)


This. I remember having to play games without any sound because I couldn't figure out how to fit the SCSI Hard Disk driver and CD Rom driver and soundblaster driver into the 640k especially since lots of games flat out refused to work if you loaded himem.sys or QEMM which allowed you to load the drivers into the extended/expanded memory areas.


Direct3d? Why not use OpenGL?

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).


Plug-n-play? That's a standard?

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


> Plug-and-Play was huge.

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.


It was far from perfect. But do you remember just how awful it was to go fishing for jumpers in your computer's tower case after they popped off? And you had to keep lots of spare jumpers around because some memory addresses and IRQs required more physical jumpers to specify than shipped with the card. Yes, yes, jumpers were cheap... But also hard to order and impossible to get hold of on short notice unless you had friends with spares.

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.


Plug-and-Play was a shitty alternative when far superior systems existed on other platforms. Instead they opted for a really horribly limited system. Compare Autoconfig on the Amiga, for example, which was older and provided far more advanced capabilities and was well documented if they could've been bothered to at least copy something that worked well instead of coming up with yet another technically inferior solution.


I bought one of the early Amigas. They used commodity hardware, but would alter the connector so you had to buy it from them. No thanks.


Microsoft did the same with software. It's called "Embrace & Extend". Of the available evils at the time, the Amiga was ridiculously better thought out and implemented.

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.


Your comment about "the future" is interesting, considering how little the Amiga actually resembles what was eventually common or popular by 1995 ;)

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...


Your details are correct. And yet ...

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 not much of an "except". 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. Then 256 colours makes up for some of the things you'd use the copper for; the rest, the CPU power will sort out. A byte-per-pixel framebuffer memory layout makes easy what would be a thorough pain on the Amiga - though with a faster CPU, not like it would be a massive problem anyway.

"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.


> Then 256 colours makes up for some of the things you'd use the copper for; the rest, the CPU power will sort out. A byte-per-pixel framebuffer memory layout makes easy what would be a thorough pain on the Amiga

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.


Setting the precedent that web browsers should be free (even for commercial use)?

Adding XHR to javascript?

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.


>>Setting the precedent that web browsers should be free (even for commercial use)?

That's revising history. There were plenty of free browsers back then. Netscape itself was derived from NCSA Mosaic which was free.


Actually, Netscape was not derived per se. It was a complete re-write by people from the Mosaic team who had left to start Netscape.

Microsoft licensed Mosaic from Spyglass, who held the rights by virtue of a deal with the University of Illinois.


Direct3d? Why not use OpenGL?

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.


Direct3D was initially much worse than OpenGL, which they saw as a threat because it was cross platform. To this day they are doing something similar with the refusal to adopt WebGL as a standard in their browsers.


The price of cheap hardware was Windows and the price of AJAX was IE6 (5.5, technically). Kinda like roses and thorns, but a lot nerdier.


I disagree that Gates made computers affordable. Computers were made affordable by Moore's Law. The increasing density of transistors in an integrated circuit made it feasible to simplify circuit boards without sacrificing performance.

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?


I didn't see it mentioned, but I give a ton of credit to Bill Gates for convincing Warren Buffett (who he plays bridge with) to give his money to charity in his lifetime.

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.


AD is much worse than IE6, but unless you're doing ops work that has to deal with it you probably wouldn't realize this.

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.


Sorry, I don't want to defend what they did with breaking compatibility with any product other than their own (IE, AD, Office, IIS killed Corel, Netscape... and so many other companies). I just don't see AD as a terrible standalone product. But you're right, I don't have a deep understanding of its shortcomings vs, say, OpenLDAP (though I'd love to learn something!).


You've heard of Novell, right? Microsoft didn't break it, it just wasn't that good. AD isn't horrible at all; I use it regularly and have zero issues.


> I use it regularly and have zero issues.

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.


agree. that's huge value!

And a whole bunch of other billionaires as well


I think both Gates and Carnegie should by evaluated by how they made their fortune, not how they spent it.

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)


Lets take your evaluation one step further. If you evaluate evaluate Gates and Carnegie through that lens, then governments are invariably more nasty than the sum of the world's past "monopolies". Do you agree with this?

On another note, Gates' effect on the tech industry is merely your opinion; the effect of his philanthropic efforts is fact.


Not my opinion; just going by commentators. I personally think it's hard to judge, and was trying to illustrate that it's not simply black and white.

Can you unpack your question and add some illustrative examples please? In what way are governments nasty, compared with previous governments?


The conclusion that them "giving their money away, at the end of their life" is correlated to them "not being comfortable with how they made it" is idiotic.

Gates still leaves his family more than enough to live a comfortable happy life. Whatever his motivation, is purely speculative.


I'll give you the jab at IE6 but I take strong exception to your Active Directory comment. It is one of the cooler pieces of tech out of redmond and far and away better than the vanilla LDAP servers from Novel or just about anything else in the open source world. And don't get me started on OD in Apple Server... The multi-master replication features, plus distributed file system stuff, plus profiles, plus multisite policy deployments and on and on all made possible becuase of the core AD system. So sure, bag on IE6 but know there are people out there that can do amazing things with Microsoft software and AD is at the core of much of that.


Microsoft builds stuff that's meant to last for an ungodly long time, and mostly they do it pretty decently. IE6 is still a standard because they built it to be a standard, and it has endured as a standard.

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.


> Microsoft builds stuff that's meant to last for an ungodly long time, and mostly they do it pretty decently. IE6 is still a standard because they built it to be a standard, and it has endured as a standard.

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.


At the time, IE6's chief competitor was a bloated, slow, crashing version of Netscape. My first job after high school and before college was that of a web developer. If I recall correctly, we damned Netscape just as much for being so bad, as IE 4 and 5. "Cross-browser compatibility" -> FML. If you omitted the border attribute a table suddenly got 2 pixels of cell spacing in Netscape. Agony all around.

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's chief competitor was a bloated, slow, crashing version of Netscape.

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.


People bash over ie6 just because it was revolutionary at that time and some people are still using it. Yeah, it's a pain to deal with as it's a pain to deal with any old technologies. Try to support Netscape 2.0 for fun.


I don't know that I'd call IE6 "revolutionary", but it was indeed an excellent browser for its time. As terrible as its standards support was compared to later browsers, it was exemplary for its time.

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.


i loved ie6 back in the day, it's just lasted too long. Does anyone like AJAX?

And active directory is actually quite good.


Active Directory is actually very good. Make admins life much easier in managing IT infrastructure.


You know...this is something quite often misunderstood...as much as I hate IE6....believe me, I do....as a direct result of IE being included in the operating system, many more people got exposed to the notion of a browser.

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.


> Gates is just copying the idea...

That's Bill's tragedy. To be remembered as the guy who never had a really original idea...

(burn, karma, burn)


"Paying penance after the fact doesn't excuse the original actions."

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.


Even if the malaria vaccine is the only thing that pans out, it would have been worth it: http://www.forbes.com/sites/matthewherper/2011/10/18/glaxosm...


I doubt the malaria vaccine will pan out, and even if it does I doubt it will be worth it. Because Bill Gates 'donated' millions of dollars to politicians he was able to kill open standards and open file formats. Because of this there are literally hundreds of thousands if not millions of college-educated people whose entire jobs revolve around making things compatible with broken systems that were designed that way on purpose to make Bill Gates money.

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.


> 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.


Some programmers having to use Microsoft software is a bigger deal for society as a whole than saving the world's poorest people from malaria and polio?

That is a simply insane stance, if you really believe that.


No, I'm saying that if we had an extra million highly-educated people working on curing malaria then it would probably already be solved, instead of being maybe partially solved in another ten or fifteen years.


I am an okish software engineer from Pakistan who has been in touch with the tech industry for quite sometime.

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.


Mr. Gates has become what Mr. Jobs wanted to become. After seeing Gates' UWash talk I am sure that the brand of philanthropy he is practicing is extremely mathematical, very involved and most certainly not the type that one eases into.

And what a resume Mr. Gates has - Personal Computing, conquering the enterprise and now polio + malaria. Man's in God Mode.


If you read Steve Jobs biography, you'd know that Steve Jobs never wanted to be like Bill Gates. Bill Gates and Steve Jobs even had a discussion about how it was funny how different their philosophies were but were still successful.


I have to thank Bill Gates for changing my life.

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. Thanks Bill.


I can't say I hate him, but I don't think the past decade of his various efforts has "redeemed him", as it were. I don't think he's "unredeemable", and he certainly deserves a lot of positive credit for a lot of things.

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!"


One question has still bugged me since the passing of Steve Jobs:

"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?


Without iTunes for Windows Zune would succeed.


Without iTunes for Windows would Zune even exist?


Bullshit. Computing advanced despite Gates, not because of him. I was there thru the nineties and win9x was a heaping pile of shit. Os/2 and BeOs were both five times better. Nt finally matured (now retarding) but the whole industry was set back at least ten years. Fuck you Bill; yeah i'm glad to hear you're giving to charity, thanks.


This is a "head in the cloud" analysis that ignores practicality.

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.


Completely agree. People hate Gates and Microsoft for some really silly reasons. Windows 95? It was a brave and revolutionary OS. Would world switch to Linux, Mac or BeOS if there was no Win95? No way it would, it would wait for Windows 4. Internet Explorer 6? Great, great browser by the time it was released. Really, whoever calls that 'crap, uninnovative software' wasn't there in 2001. Office? By far the best office software suite out there. Windows XP? People use it to this day and are so happy about it they don't want to change if for newer and better systems.

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.


A few points worthy of note:

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.


You've offered no proof or even speculation people wouldn't switch if 95 didn't exist. OS/2 Warp was a modest hit the same year and was advocated by technical people for years. It was much more solid yet still user friendly. There were other decent choices as we've mentioned.

I like XP and still use it, but it doesn't fit into the thread about MS halting innovation during the 90's.


I worked in IT during the 90's and Win9x crashed several times a day from drivers, lack of resources, and "rundll not responding...". Maybe you've forgotten, but I haven't. I had to diagnose hundreds of machines with those symptoms, ...it was shit. It's true 95 installed on 4MB ram, but it was slower than molasses, constantly swapping.

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.


OS/2 was originally developed by a combination of MS and IBM. It was a much better/more stable OS (I developed on it for a couple of years in the early 90s and used to pity those people in our team left on DOS or the toy Windows OS), but it had one major flaw - it was targetted only at IBM hardware, at least in the first few years. With most of the world heading towards cheap clones, that pretty much killed it as a real commercial option.


OS/2 was still a severely compromised design. It was 'better' but it still crashed a lot and would have required a transition to a modern OS.

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.)


The point on the humility is pretty spot-on. At a talk he gave at University of Washington recently he said that being a billionaire is overrated. He said comically that it's really not much different from merely being a millionaire, because "Dick's doesn't raise their prices." (Dick's is a famous Seattle burger chain) [1]

Doesn't shock me that he's donating his money by the billions.

[1] http://blog.seattlepi.com/thebigblog/2011/10/27/bill-gates-b...


To paraphrase the argument: "If you steal more money than you can possibly spend, giving the rest away makes everything OK."


+1. I don't particularly care enough to get into a fight about Bill Gates' personal reputation (I'll happily accept he has done many good things alongside the bad), but the original Forbes article is offensive bullshit. So being a nasty capitalist convicted multiple times of abusing monopolies is OK if you throw a trinket to charity? This argument isn't just about his reputation, its about more than that - it's about what type of capitalism we do have and what type we should have.


"Bill is basically unimaginative and has never invented anything, which is why I think he’s more comfortable now in philanthropy than technology. He just shamelessly ripped off other people’s ideas."

Am I the only one who read that and thought, 'Wow, Steve Jobs could be a bit of an asshole'...?


There's no point in making comparisons like these. On the other hand it's interesting to compare some of the IT-made billionaires to the traditional billionaires. Bill Gates was not born into money* but ended up drowning in them. He probably sees both the diminishing marginal utility of exorbitant wealth and the tendency of profits to accumulate exponentially. As a nerd, he's probably unable to give into a lavish lifestyle anyway, so he does the best thing of giving back. He can hope to be remembered in history for that, because, after all, how many rich people made history just for being rich?

[*] he wasn't poor, probably more than middle class; in any case, there's no doubt he's self-made


>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.


ahem, Bill Gates parents probably did not pay for Harvard with fake money


I'm not certain of this, but I don't think Harvard has always cost an arm, a leg, and twelve kidneys.


Ivy league schools are effectively free for people who are not rich through financial aid. Not sure that was true in 60s/70s.


This email Bill sent out, pleading for anyone at Microsoft to care about usability, made me like him a little better: http://blog.seattlepi.com/microsoft/files/library/2003Jangat...


Who hates Bill Gates? I can understand some people not approving of Microsoft in general (and for me specifically Internet Explorer) but Bill Gates as a person has done amazing things-- both for technology and humanity.


I don't hate Bill Gates though I'm no fan of MS of the 1990s, and I thought that the PC industry was a lot more interesting before Windows took off. I am though really uncomfortable with the fact that his massive funds are totally warping the debate on education reform, not because there's any evidence that his ideas are worthwhile but because he's willing to pay to implement them. There's really not a lack of education research indicating what could be useful, but Gates and everyone else is fixated on his own little theories of what should work.


Why do people love Jobs? For better or worse he is\was the face of the company. Its actions reflect on him, especially since he was the man in charge of the company and set policy.


When Microsoft was at its peak, I gather most everyone equated the business to the man, as if it was an extension of himself.


>Who hates Bill Gates?

Umm, just read some of the comments on this article? Or any Microsoft related posts on Slashdot?


Hmm, Gates' approach is responsible for some monumental inefficiency in the PC landscape.

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>


Yes Apple has shipped some amazing products but they were limited with only few products. Now that does't mean somebody else has to compete in the same respect, Microsoft had different focus & vision. They wanted to go the IBM way, consumer & businesses. I feel they have done a good job.

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.


Cannot agree more.

Jobs made great products.. but Bill felt like a more consistent person.


Steal the money - doesn't it bother anyone that if we equate earning money in business (in what ever way) with stealing, we have to equate what most of the oil companies, most of the investment banks, most of the media companies, most of pharma companies do as nothing but stealing.. The only difference is that there is no apparent 'master mind' to attack.

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.


I always wonder when people say Microsoft is holding back innovation why they don't say the same at Apple. I think Apple does some great marketing and design for their products but from a developer perspective I can see the noose closing more on Apple's platform versus Windows/Android these days.

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.


Hating Bill Gates was never a particularly intelligent stance. He was a great businessman and technician, pushing a really lousy technology. That doesn't say anything about his value as a person, and his subsequent work (while I differ to some degree with the means) has been of tremendous worth to the world.

That his company produced a whole raft of wretched technologies is germane, but hardly dispositive.


I never could care less that his company produced wretched technologies. I cared about how he was responsible for a company that used reprehensible business methods to dramatically damage the competition - some of them in ways that have been found blatantly illegal. It had direct negative effects on a lot of us in reducing our choice.

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.


Despite the hatred for Windows and other Microsoft products, I don't think it is that bad. There has been no OS that has been able to accomplish what Windows has accomplished. OS aside, the Office Suite is a pretty good product. Windows and Office have been very successful not just because Gates is a good businessman.


I never hated Bill Gates since I never met the man and he never did horrific things. I am still mad after all this time that some of the money I spent buying a machine to run OPENSTEP was paid to Microsoft. I despise them for that and they should of had to pay all of it back in the settlement.


He capitalized on the idea that the consumer is not allowed to choose the operating system of the computer they buy. That idea hasn't yet faded.

That's why I hate Microsoft.


I like playing new & recently released computer games on my computer. Which is why I have never bought a Mac.

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.


Macs have the same problem. You can't get a mac without OS X.


At the time of Windows 98/ME, I really hated Bill Gates. We had no viable alternative for an OS and the current state of things wasn't likely to change for a long time. Now over a decade later, Windows is much better, up to a point that I no longer feel ashamed to use it.


windows NT? or linux if one was willing to struggle with the hardware a bit. i actually had a dual boot windows NT/slack machine at the time, which i'd named "bgates".


I heard a story the other day where a new computer magazine was starting up in Brazil in the late 1990s. Microsoft went to them and offered to take full page ads. But when the price came into question, Microsoft PR said they would not pay, and that the magazine should just run Microsoft ads for free, because "nobody trusts a computer magazine if Microsoft isn't advertising in it."

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.


This is such a silly complaint.

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 disagree, Microsoft would be a great advertiser to get, and the only reason they can get away with the practice is because they are a monopoly. Would be illegal in the US, but they do it to other countries.


So MS is supposed to just give the magazine money? If MS really needs to advertise in that magazine, they'll pay to do it. It's a simple value equation. You do realize how MS being an advertiser (non paid) can immensely help that magazine get paid ads? Who is getting hurt here?


This is a classic brand practice. It's not limited to Microsoft, and... they're right.

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.


The only reason you won't find this story on snopes is because it's too lame.


Ever read Zizek? tl;dr: so-called charity is just the entrenchment of capitalism, which requires considerable income disparity to function. So, far from eradicating poverty, he's deepening it. Another commenter mentioned Carnegie (could add Rockefeller or any of the other robber barons), it's a good parallel (look into the history, e.g., these men where so awful they would even sell known-to-be-faulty guns to the army during the civil war, so soldiers would end up blowing off their limbs while in battle)


Easy. One sees the destruction he left in his wake.


I've always been a little confused as to why whenever Jobs and Gates come under discussion, there is an instant contrast drawn with either one placed on completely different extremes. One was good other was bad, one was creative other was not, one was spiritual and zen-like and the other was stuffy and corporate. It's almost like they cannot be reconciled in any way possible.

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.


Gates and his company were responsible for several releases of a very depressing operating system and a lot of shitty business software. I use Microsoft Word and it is amazingly bad. It is full of bugs, has a complex user interface but simple things don't work correctly and Microsoft hasn't been able to fix it for a decade. Currently I work for a company which uses Microsoft Sharepoint. It fulfills all expectations I have about Microsoft software and their services. Still, Microsoft does deliver from time to times some good stuff, but their core software (the operating systems and their software for business) is a huge ripoff.


A good thing that there are so many quality alternatives for Microsoft's shitty business software!


I love Mac OS, but I definitely do not hate Bill Gates. He made computers affordable and accessible, while making a lot of money. A lot of that money has gone to charities which is great.


I hate how in HN discussions like this, philanthropy is always exalted as some untouchable trump card. I admire Gates more for the products/achievements of Microsoft (I don't remember too many people ever saying to me 'oh i wish i had a Mac, Windows is like a hellish prison I cannot escape from' - it was more like 'you use a Mac? lulz') than the achievements of the Bill and Melissa Gates Foundation. Personally.

And much of the moaning about Microsoft's so-called monopolies just sounds like sour grapes.


Well, whether the market competitors were innocent victims of Gates' savvy schemes or whether he was just better at executing the same tricks and basics in that business is up for debate. For me, he's just another, rather due to his economical than technical knowledge, financially successful person in our brutally unfair world. What he does with his money is comparatively pretty noble but on an absolute scale neither very effective nor intelligent.


Gates did an amazing job of taking advantage of my many bosses ignorance in the early 90's. We all still pay for that, though less and less it seems. Thank goodness he left Balmer in charge.

As for the the whole redemption through philanthropy thing, it's fun to watch the wealthy compete in the legacy game. Go Bill!


This kind of makes me angry as well. Partly because I was about to write almost identical blog whilst deciding whether to buy a MacBook Air or a Lenovo IdeaPad. MacBook won, but only because Apple insists on me owning Apple in order to publish to their bookstore. A move I deem despicable and rude.

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!"

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bUFZgD9mwxA


Philanthropy demonstrates good will as well as indulgences demonstrated sanctity.

There's nothing more materialist than associating virtue with the scale of one's donations.


>> How Can Anyone Still Hate Bill Gates?

For being a part of Internet Explorer. I just cant let it go!


If I was Tim Paterson, I'd be pretty pissed at Bill Gates.


I wonder what Larry Ellison will end up doing.


Two famous saying come to mind:

"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.


Reads something fabricated by Newsmax.


Habit?


The answer is easy. As someone who has most experience with such types of people said:

http://www.osnews.com/story/21887/Linus_Microsoft_Hatred_is_...


I hope this has been posted at the top of HN before... if it hasn't it really should.


Related article:

http://www.infoworld.com/d/the-industry-standard/bill-gates-...

Quote:

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."


I don’t know what Jobs did with his money and I don’t care, it has zero to do with what Bill does with his money. I can decide whether to admire Bill on the basis of his actions rather than trying to compare him to others.

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.


Jobs is relevant to this discussion, because the article is based around the following quote:

"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.


Bill is basically unimaginative and has never invented anything

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.


Exactly. This is why I'm irritated every time I see a comment comparing Jobs to Edison. He wasn't an Engineer. Even from the beginning.


agree. he really knew how to market products..


Are you summing the article up as an attack on one quote? Okay, if you like Bill, you can say that Jobs once said something that was wrong. Great. Next question.

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.


No, I don't think the article is an attack on just one quote (and quite didn't say that). I agree with you about almost all your points - its just that in your original post, you basically said 'leave Jobs out of this', and I'm merely pointing out why Jobs is relevant to this discussion - because a part of the article discussed Steve's attack on Bill.

"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.


I don’t dispute your ire at the statement. And it’s inevitable that people will idolize other people, especially when they’re dead. That’s unfortunate in so many ways, especially if given all of the things he said in his life, someone would pick one of his less exemplary utterances to carry around in their brain.

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.


Sure, but Jobs himself says this and invites comparisons in the very article that this HN post points to:

>“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.

http://www.newser.com/story/130728/bill-gates-aids-program-s...

>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.


I just want to point out that through direct and indirect manufacturing (i.e. all the components Apple aggressively procures from multiple vendors in high quantities), and in creating markets for competitors to move into, Steve Jobs' ability to sell Apple II's, Macs, iPods, iPhones, and iPads has probably sustainably lifted millions of people in the third world out of poverty and into the beginnings of industrialization. And, to his credit, Bill Gates did much of the same in his impact on the personal computer industry. That's why Gates' philanthropy focuses on Africa--it no longer needs to focus on Korea, or China, or even India.

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 admire Mr. Gates’s current life choices, so do I, we should probably leave it at that.

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.


This is not about you personally but Steve Jobs is idolized by many entrepreneurs on HN and elsewhere. Look at this huge discussion here http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3177729 about something that he said.

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.


http://folklore.org/ProjectView.py?project=Macintosh&cha... is full of things Mr. Jobs did and said that appear to be less than exemplary. The thought of disputing each and every one of them is daunting, to say the least. I am not an expert on role models, but since you bring up budding entrepreneurs who may go on to become super rich in the future, here is the entire text of what I would say at Startup School if Paul were to invite me to speak:

“Do not follow in the footsteps of Mr. Wozniak, Mr. Jobs, or Mr. Gates: Seek what they sought."


I don't know why people think the foundation is a good thing.

They deploy the same nasty tactics that the company does.

That is not a charity.


If a man has $1000 dollars and gives half away I'd think he's foolish but since he did something that hurts him he deserves respect.

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.


I'm sure he was an asshole and also that he is genuinely trying (and succeeding) to help people.

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.


Luke 21:1-4


Yoda, Ep. V


im skeptical that any amount of damage bill gates might have done to technology is outweighed by millions of vaccines and thousands of schools in developing countries.


Jobs is right. Gates gave up and lost interest. He lifted his head up and realized he needn't work ever again and didn't get any satisfaction from working. So why not give away the money you made since you couldn't possibly give enough away in your lifetime. Gates couldn't even make a dent in his lifestyle at the rate he's going.

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.


Gates didn't lift his head up and decide to give to charity. Read some of his earlier interviews from the 90's - when asked what he would do with his wealth, he often stated that he would spend his 50's & 60's giving a large portion of it away. I was skeptical when I heard this back then - but the man has more than stayed true to his word.


Here here


I dont hate Gates. I hate windows because its so annoying.


Bill Gates definitely agrees with Occupy Wall Street. He hates the 1% and helps the 99%. But he didn't get the full message, so he thinks its the top 1% in the world, which is roughly the group with good access to a good computer. So he gave a crappy OS to the top 1% in the world, and a lot of well needed help (medical/etc) to the 99%.

Just to point out, joking. Timeline doesn't work, and Windows isn't so bad.


Too bad the 99% will just see the billions and scream bloody murder.


Well, if Hitler was alive today, and he started doing charity, people would still hate him. Obviously BG is not Adolf, but is a on purpose exaggerated example. He did so much damage on the beginning.


What net damage did you see him do?


The difference is Hitler would have to start one hell of a charity to make up for the roughly 50 million soldiers who lost their lives in Europe during World War II, not to mention the 6 million Jewish executed.


But Bill Gates forces people to use IE6, which wastes a lot of time that equates to thousands of lives.


You're really going to try to compare a little time wasted with IE6 to a brutal death on a freezing battlefield thousands of miles from home? Really?


I was being sarcastic.


Here's a reason: He poisoned the world.

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.


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

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


>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.

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.


Wait, you're saying that because his family couldn't afford a Mac, obviously he was upper 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.


No his point is valid. 50k gets you a very good lifestyle - enough for a good house, 3 very solid meals, a very good school and every opportunity to better your life going forward. I definitely did not experience any financial troubles growing up (and my family left the country later so that worked out well for us). But that doesn't correlate well with a good life in America - very different definitions of luxuries.


You misunderstand. $1000/month is a pretty high salary in India even now. In the 90s, someone making the equivalent of that much would be considered upper class, not upper middle class. This has nothing to do with Macs or Ferraris.


Parent: My family couldn't afford a $1k+ mac in the 90s

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!?"


parent: my family couldnt afford $1k/month, that is upper middle class

reply: a family making $1k/month is upper class actually


People often cite Apple's amazing stability as a reason for it being better than Windows but I don't see it. I've seen all kinds of insane MacOSX crashes just like Windows. My biggest problem is that once things go wrong, it is hardest to fix it in MacOSX, it is difficult but often doable in Windows, and easiest but by no means trivial in Linux.


I think it's because most people who switched to a mac did it because they believed it would be more stable (largely thanks to clever marketing). Since they already expect the mac to be better than Windows, that's what they notice, even though it's just different.

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.


I respect Bill Gates a lot, he's a great businessman and he actually cares about the world - I'm honestly not sure if I would want to run a charity myself (I'd likely reinvest the money into new businesses).

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.


Upvoting because this is the only nice thing I've ever heard anyone say about Windows ME.

Also, I haven't had windows crash on me since Vista.


Yeah, I don't know why people hate on ME, I thought it was great compared to 98. I remember being able to run some of the newer software (including Office XP, I think) and yes, it worked fine for two years, I can't complain :-)...


I still have dreams about BSOD. Sad to hear that it is gone.


"switching to ME got rid of the issues."

That's the first time I've ever heard anyone say that.


At the risk of losing karma, I have to say you Apple fanboys are absolutely fascinating to me. I don't understand you at all.


I am a complete apple fanboy, but I still think Bill Gates is a legend. Microsoft made mistakes, but they made the PC the device that it is today, and they forced others to redefine themselves to compete, which raised the bar. However, Bill Gates will only be part remembered for Microsoft - what he has done in terms of his industrial-scale philanthropy is, frankly, incredible.


It really is, Craig!


I don't understand Applefanboys at all either. Normally, even knowing a few, you expect them to be intelligent enough to see through the hype and marketing. But they still take the Apple cool-aid by IV and lineup hours before the shops open for a "new" product that's barely different from the recently purchased product they already have.


Me too...I have even read his book....The idea that we have to choose one between them is a logical fallacy called False Dilemma!


Do you seriously believe that the stability of Windows was such a direct and obvious decision? Do you seriously seriously believe 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.




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