“Gates was merely the best businessman ever born. He was ruthless. But capitalism is ruthless. It is a system. And it is that system – not his operating systems – that made Gates so damned big. Gates was not an inventor and innovator and I’ll argue that – his prognosticating books aside – he was no visionary. He was an exploiter. His first product was another version of the Basic programming language. His master stroke was taking the essence of a now-forgotten operating system called CP/M and turning it into MS-DOS, the neurology of the personal-computer revolution. He took the tool that truly created the technology age, VisiCalc – the spreadsheet that let business people ask ‘what if?’, which is what put computers on every office desk in the world – and turned it into Excel, part of his Office suite that also included Word, which itself was really just an adaptation of WordStar. He took the art of the Apple Lisa and Mac and turned it into the clumsy painting-on-velvet, Windows. Gates took others’ innovations and turned them into products and profits. Every great invention needs a business genius to bring it to market. For software, that was Gates,” Jeff Jarvis writes for The Guardian.
“My teenage son and webmaster, Jake, a computer genius (if you’ll allow me a link of paternal pride) since the age of 3, has admired and even idolized Gates for giving him the tools he loved, tools that empowered and taught him and helped shape his way of thinking,” Jarvis writes.
MacDailyNews Note: Perusing Jarvis’ link to his son’s webpage, MacDailyNews reader “Dan” noticed that Jake dumped Gates’ Windows in July 2005 for the superior operating system: As of July 2005, I have discovered that I am a Mac addict at heart and have been from the moment I set my hands on my shiny, new eMac. Since then, I am always looking for new tricks to improve the already great OS X with everything from freeware to commonly-known keyboard shortcuts. – http://jakejarvis.com/
“But then came the internet, the great invention that by its very open essence defies productization,” Jarvis writes. “In spite of government fears in the U.S. and the EU – and try as he might – Gates couldn’t take it over and exploit it. This was not his only failure. Gates tried to become a media mogul – in a local listings service, in a news magazine, in a TV network, and in a web portal – but that eluded him. In an era when everyone can now master media, Gates could not. So perhaps this is indeed the end of the Gates era. And if anyone is smart and ruthless enough to know that, it’s probably Gates.”
Full article here.
MacDailyNews Take: Tsk, tsk, nary a mention of illegal acts. Yes, capitalism is ruthless, but there actually are rules. Gates and his company broke them. Repeatedly. Gates should never be lauded as “the best businessman ever born.” That simply is not true. And should Gates really be praised for sprinkling his ill-gotten gains upon charities worldwide? Isn’t that merely his penance to be executed without praise? Where was the charity for Netscape and their employees? Or for Gary Kildall? Or for innumerable others?
We can all now look at Gates and ask, “What did he really give the world?” Bill Gates gave the world an upside-down and backwards bad simulation of the Apple Mac and a bloated, insecure Office suite. He sold it to so many because so many early on were ignorant of what a personal computer was for and they lacked the ability to imagine what it could be. They bought what their equally-ignorant friends, family, and co-workers bought. It’s that simple.
What we really want to know is: will we ever be able to measure the extent by which Bill Gates retarded the world’s progress? Any Mac user who’s seen their Windows brethren struggle so mightily trying (and often failing in frustration) to do something that is easily accomplished on a Mac understands what we mean. So, what do you think, how many years worth of progress did Bill Gates cost the world? 10 years? 20?
[UPDATE: 2:55pm EDT: Added Jake Jarvis switcher info.]
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Will Bill Gates really be able to stay away from Microsoft? – June 15, 2006
Bill Gates to transition out of a day-to-day role in Microsoft – June 15, 2006