Microsoft’s Gates ‘not amused’ about Apple’s digital media supremacy, courts Hollywood allies

“When Apple Computer transformed the digital music scene in April 2003 by selling songs over the Internet, the richest man in the world was not amused,” Reuters reports. “Microsoft chairman Bill Gates had struggled for a decade to get his software into consumers’ home entertainment systems. Now the digital media party was finally starting, and he was not invited,” Joseph Menn writes for The Los Angeles Times.

“But the blow gave Gates new insight, motivation and some needed humility, and it intensified work on what might prove the turning point in his quest to extend Microsoft’s supremacy from the office into the living room,” Menn writes. “Just weeks after Apple’s seismic announcement, Gates and new AOL Time Warner chairman Richard Parsons settled America Online’s claim that Microsoft had crushed its Netscape software subsidiary with illegal monopolistic behavior. More important, Gates and others said, the settlement led to a new relationship that has changed the course of Microsoft’s fractious dealings with Hollywood. Since then, the Warner Brothers studio has guided its movie industry peers in quietly meeting Microsoft halfway on a range of contentious issues, setting the stage for the software giant to play gatekeeper for the home video business of the future.”

MacDailyNews Take: Hands up, including even the most delusional Stockholm Syndrome-suffering Windows-only fans: Who wants Microsoft to play gatekeeper of your living room? (crickets chirping) Thought so.

Menn continues, “Gates’ battle to succeed in video where he failed in music is far from over. For one thing, the movie studios and television broadcasters are more prone to internal disagreement than were the record companies when Apple signed them up. That makes it trickier for Microsoft to forge content deals… Even if they stick together, the content creators may stand pat, place their bets with multiple technology partners or choose someone other than Gates. In particular, few in Hollywood would be shocked to see Apple founder Steve Jobs pull another rabbit out of his hat, unveiling a perfectly thought-out system for moving paid video to computers and portable devices.”

“Whichever way it shakes out, Gates vows not to play the victim in ‘Son of iPod,'” Menn writes. “After learning a hard lesson in the digital music business, ‘we’re really having to work more closely with partners in the hardware industry and content industry, to really think through the whole end-to-end experience and make it better,’ Gates said. ‘That’s where we’ve done our mea culpa. We are fixing that.'”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Okay, so Gates is finally going to Think Different and, for once, “think through the whole end-to-end experience and make it better?” Yeah, right. So, Gates has learned his hard lesson and done his “iPod mea culpa?” Whatever happened to the Bill Gates who, back in September 2004, said sarcastically of Apple’s iPod, “Oh, wow, I don’t think we can do that.”

Looks like he’s finally figured out that, wow, he couldn’t.

Bill Gates’ karma is in worse shape than Rob Glaser. Bill Gates has racked up quite a long-overdue wallop. Hopefully, “Hollywood” sees Microsoft for what it is — instead of what it likes to portray itself as — and thinks long and hard before shackling itself to Microsoft.

[UPDATE: 3:50pm EDT: added the word “sarcastically” to describe Gates’ “Oh, wow, I don’t think we can do that” comment regarding iPod.]

Related MacDailyNews articles:
Apple and Microsoft battle for control of future living rooms – June 01, 2005
Bill Gates: ‘I don’t believe the success of the Apple iPod is sustainable in the long run’ – May 12, 2005
Bill Gates jokes about Mac OS X ‘Tiger’ and calls Apple ‘the super-small market share guy’ – May 03, 2005
Microsoft’s Bill Gates is once again playing catch-up to Apple’s Steve Jobs – April 16, 2005
Experts say Bill Gates’ doodles show he’s ‘stressed and tense, not a natural leader’ (with image) – January 31, 2005
Apple Computer will own the living room, not Microsoft – January 10, 2005
Even Bill Gates can’t avoid Windows malware; Mac users surf the Web freely – October 03, 2004
Bill Gates’ sarcasm regarding Apple iPod: ‘Oh, wow, I don’t think we can do that’ – September 07, 2004


  1. Malware is now synonymous with Microsoft.

    How keen will people be to expose their digital media assets to this type of theft, vandalism and destruction?

    Not very I would guess.

  2. Funny how two articles prop up, just like that, in major cities, both targeting and smearing Apple’s music solutions and somehow spinning MS’ attempts. Could it just be a coincidence?

  3. Something requires a little clarification here.

    Bill Gates never said upon seeing the iPod, “Oh, wow, I don’t think we can do that.” At least not in any way that meant what this little snippet quote implies.

    What Bill Gates actually said was, ” There’s nothing that the iPod does that I say, ‘Oh, wow, I don’t think we can do that.’ “

    Big difference isn’t it? It’s like you took his quote and removed the ‘NOT!’ from the end of it.

    To be fair, I don’t think this was an intentional distortion. The quote is represented properly in an earlier MDN story, which is linked to above. Probably MDN just assumed that people would have read that story. But they all haven’t. I hadn’t, and when I researched that quotation and discovered that Bill Gates actually said the exact opposite of what you said he said … well, my opinion of MDN went down a notch.

    Please be more careful in the future. Your article quotes are skirting an ethical line lately that should not even be approached.


  4. “Big difference isn’t it? It’s like you took his quote and removed the ‘NOT!’ from the end of it”

    The sarcasm in Bill’s quote was implied. There’s no scandal here. No clarification needed.

  5. There’s no scandal but the quote was incorrect, information was missing that distorted the meaning. There was no ‘implied sarcasm’ in Gates’ quote, he was *utterly explicit*: he said that there is nothing about X that makes me say Y. That is not implied it spells his meaning right out for you. MDN just reported it as ‘Bill Gates saw X and said Y.’ This is unethical quotation. End of story. As I say, I don’t think it was intentional, it was just an oversight but it is not only a dead wrong mistake, but it is the worst possible mistake that can actually make when quoting someone. Clarification is the least of what’s needed.

  6. [UPDATE: 3:50pm EDT: added the word “sarcastically” to describe Gates’ “Oh, wow, I don’t think we can do that” comment regarding iPod.]

  7. Fair enough.

    I don’t think that Gates was technically being ‘sarcastic’, he was just telling a straight-up literal bald-faced lie, but your edit is enough to correct the polar reversal of his meaning to the uninitiated, and thanks for making it, restores my confidence some in your good intentions…


  8. *nobody* should get smug or complacent when it comes to Microsoft being behind in this race. MDN and many posters here seem to believe that the fight for the living room is already over, and that Apple has won. Well…Apple has delivered exactly zero TV shows/movies to my living room or anybody else’s. And Microsoft’s resources are unimaginably huge.

    Now, I think Apple will do a better job figuring out the right way to do iFlix (or whatever they call it), and I really do like their chances in this arena, but MS is a very serious threat here. They were several years behind in the browser wars, and where are they now, barely a decade later?

  9. hairbo,

    “They were several years behind in the browser wars, and where are they now, barely a decade later?”

    Microsoft is in the lead with a pile of shit browser that lacks basic features, is woefully insecure, and is losing market share, just like their pile of shit OS is losing market share to Mac OS X and Linux.

    Yes, Microsoft is a serious threat, but people today seem to be a little more clued into the fact that Microsoft makes mediocre solutions designed to make themselves, not their users, richer.

  10. “podcast”.

    just keep saying that over and over again. whenever Bill mentions anything about media content just say… “podcast”. find some sort of way to work it into a conversation… “Say, didja catch todays PODCAST of Spongebob?” “Can’t wait to hear that PODCAST.” “You like flyfishing? I like PODCASTING.” “This morning I had a cup of… PODCAST!!”

    that’ll learn ‘im.

  11. Dogger what the fuck are you talking about.. we all heard the quote before… we know what it means.. MDN did nothing extreme by mentioning.

    Gates was being sarcastic.. just like he was being sarcastic when he said “My kids wanna watch Finding Nemo in the car.. I guess Steve’s kids just wanna listen to music…”

    Your valiant effort to defend Gates failed admirably.. the added words do nothing to make him sound less contemptuous of the iPod.

    Guess what, Gates, you ‘can’t’ do that.. the law says so. No clickwheel for you.

    Hmmm, who knows maybe SJ will come into work stoned one day and sign over the rights to the clickwheel, just like Apple signed over the rights to the Mac OS in the Sculley days.


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