And Then Bill Gates Said

As the founder and long time leader of one of the most successful companies, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at some of Bill Gates' predictions about computing and the future of computing.

Bill Said: "If something's expensive to develop, and somebody's not going to get paid, it won't get developed. So you decide: Do you want software to be written, or not?" in an interview in 1980.

Let's see. Linux, GIMP, OpenOffice, Firefox, Thunderbird, are all major software projects without people getting paid. And you know what? I seem to have fewer problems with those applications than I do with their Microsoft counterparts. My favorite example of this is Powerpoint vs OpenOffice Impress. Whenever creating a Powerpoint presentation, I tended to save a new version after adding a few new slides because I never knew when it would crash. Following one particular crash, Powerpoint insisted that my PPT file was corrupt and unreadable. I figured what do I have to lose - I started OpenOffice Impress and asked it to open my PPT. Not only did it successfully open the file, but as far as I could tell, all my slides and notes were intact. In your face Bill.

Bill Said: "640K ought to be enough for anybody." in 1981. However Bill does deny ever having said this. Needless to say you can't do anything with a PC today if it only has 640K of memory.

Bill Said: "To create a new standard, it takes something that's not just a little bit different; it takes something that's really new and really captures people's imagination - and the Macintosh, of all the machines I've ever seen, is the only one that meets that standard." at a Macintosh conference in 1984. I certainly won't argue with him on this one.

Bill Said: "I believe OS/2 is destined to be the most important operating system, and possibly program, of all time." in November 1987. While the initial versions were buggy and awkward, I loved the later versions of OS/2 and found it to be a far more powerful and reliable operating system than what Microsoft was peddling. With the advantage of hindsight, I think OS/2's undoing was IBM's decision to have OS/2 run Windows programs better than Windows. This capability was actually a disincentive for application developers to write native OS/2 programs.

Bill Said: "We will never make a 32-bit operating system, but I'll always love IBM." in an undated quote. All I can say is that I guess never has come and gone.

Bill Said: "There are people who don't like capitalism, and people who don't like PCs. But there's no one who likes the PC who doesn't like Microsoft." in an undated attribution.

Wow, I don't know what Mr. Gates was smoking when he said this. I recall a business program on the radio circa 2002. It was discussing product branding. The expert being interviewed was asked to name a company whose branding was a success. I believe that the company he named was either Federal Express or UPS. When asked why, he responded that while their competitors were bragging about how many planes and locations they had, Federal Express (or UPS) was emphasizing that they knew how important the package was to the customer and how important it was to get it delivered on time. In short, they were focusing on satisfying the customers needs. When asked to identify a failing company, without hesitation the expert said simply "Microsoft". When asked why, his response got a laugh of understanding from the interviewer: "Well, do you know anybody who actually uses Microsoft software because the want to?"

Bill Said: "There are no significant bugs in our released software that any significant number of users want fixed." from an interview in Focus Magazine in October 1995. Bad news does have a way of not traveling uphill.

Bill Said: "Sometimes we do get taken by surprise. For example, when the Internet came along, we had it as a fifth or sixth priority." in a speech at the University of Washington in 1998. I bet it was really their ninth or tenth priority.

Bill Said: "Spam will be a thing of the past in two years' time." in an interview with BBC News on January 24, 2004. Well that was three years ago and I get more spam than ever.

Bill Said: "We're responsible for the creation of the PC industry. The whole idea of compatible machines and lots of software.. that's something we brought to computing." in an undated quote. Yep, and Al Gore invented the Internet. Bill and Al must be drinking from the same trough.

Bill Said: "Understand that this is the last physical format there will ever be." regarding Blu-ray in an October 14 2005 interview in The Daily Princetonian interview. I wouldn't count on it.

Bill Said: "Microsoft is not about greed. It's about innovation and fairness." in an undated quote. This one left me ROTFL.

Bill Said: "Let's face it, the average computer user has the brain of a Spider Monkey." in an undated quote. Strange but that's what I've always thought about the folks who work at Microsoft, especially in their upper management.

I would like to close with a quote by Douglas Adams, author of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy who certainly has a way with words:

"The idea that Bill Gates has appeared like a knight in shining armour to lead all customers out of a mire of technological chaos neatly ignores the fact that it was he who, by peddling second-rate technology, led them into it in the first place."

For these and other Bill Gates quotes, visit

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