Apple CEO Steve Jobs and Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates share the stage at D5

Apple Store“Not since Apple CEO Steve Jobs famously interviewed Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates as a possible suitor during the ‘Macintosh Dating Game’ back in 1984 have the two men appeared in a joint bill. [Now] the two will share a stage tonight for the first time in more than 20 years for what promises to be a historic discussion,” AllThingsD reports.

AllThingsD’s live coverage includes:

• Walt Mosssberg: What have each of you contributed to the computer industry? Jobs: Bill built the first software company in the industry, and that was huge. Bill was really focused on software. There are a lot of other things you could say, but that’s the highest bit. Gates: First, I’d like to clarify, I am not Fake Steve Jobs. Apple really pursued the dream of building products that we want to use ourselves. He always seems to figure out where the next industry movement will be. The industry has benefited tremendously from his work.

Engadget covers the exchange thusly:

• Bill: Steve said once, we build the products we want to use ourselves, and he’s done that with incredible taste and elegance. Apple literally was failing before Steve went back. Steve: We’ve also both been incredibly lucky to have great partners that we started the companies with. Great people, he says.

MacWorld offers a fuller report of Jobs’ and Gates’ opening comments:

• “Bill built the first software company in the industry. And I think he build the first software company before anyone in our industry knew what a software company was, and that was huge. And the business model they ended up pursuing ended up working really well,” said Jobs. “Bill was focused on software before anyone else had a clue. There’s a lot more you can say, but that’s the high-order bit.” “First I want to clarify, I’m not Fake Steve Jobs,” said Gates, to peals of laughter from the audience.

“What Steve’s done is phenomenal,” Gates continued. “Back in 1977, the Apple II, the idea that it would be a mass market machine and an incredibly empowering phenomenon. And the Macintosh, that was so risky. Apple really bet the company, Lisa hadn’t done that well, but the team that Steve built within the company to pursue that, some days it felt a little ahead of its time, remember the Twiggy disk drive and…”

Jobs interjected, “128K!”

“In a certain sense we build the products we want to use ourselves. He’s really pursued that with an incredible taste and elegance and had a huge impact on the industry. Apple literally was failing when Steve went back and reinfused innovation and risk-taking that have been phenomenal. So the industry has benefitted immensely from his work. I’d say he’s contributed as much as anyone,” said Gates.

We’ll add to this in a few moments, but, first, here are the links to each of the reports mentioned above. We recommend reading all three to get the full picture until AllThingsD posts the video:

AllThingsD
Engadget
Macworld

UPDATE: 11:24pm EDT: From the Macworld’s coverage, “The big secret about Apple is that Apple views itself as a software company. And there aren’t very many software companies left. And Microsoft is a software company,” said Jobs. “We look at what they do, and some is really great, and some is competitive, and some of it’s not.” Apple’s goal is much more modest than world domination, said Jobs. “We don’t think we’re going to have 80 percent of the market,” he said, doubtlessly disappointing legions of Mac enthusiasts. “We’re happy when our market share goes up a point.”

UPDATE: 11:34pm EDT:Asked by Kara Swisher to define the greatest misunderstanding in their relationship, Jobs joked, “We’ve kept our marriage secret for over a decade now.”

UPDATE: 11:38pm EDT: From the Engadget’s coverage, “Q about standards and convergence devices. Steve: Bill and I can agree we can get it down to two! Bill: The marketplace is great at allowing diversity when it should, and allowing it to go away when it should. Steve: And allowing it back sometimes! Harrrrr. Laughs.”

UPDATE: 11:42pm EDT: “Q about their legacies. Applause for Bills charity work… Does Steve envy Bill’s second act? Steve: Bill’s goal isn’t to be the richest guy in the cemetary. … I look at us as two of the luckiest guys on the planet… we’ve found what we loved to do at the right place at the right time. Your family and that, what more can you ask for?”

UPDATE: 11:49pm EDT: From the AllThingsD’s coverage, “Q: What do you wish you’d learned from each other early on? Gates: I admire Steve’s taste. And that’s not a joke. Jobs: If Apple could have had a bit of Microsoft’s knack for partnerships early on we would have been better for it.” From Macworld, “[Jobs] said that he wished he and Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak learned earlier how to partner with others, as Microsoft had. ‘If Apple had more of that in its DNA, it would have served it really well. And it didn’t learn that until a couple decades later.'”

Engadget’s Ryan Block reports his impression as the event wraps up, “Steve, very guarded, playing his hands very close to the chest. Bill, very friendly, very open, surprisingly accessible. These two guys are one in a million, and it’s totally clear they’ve never respected anyone quite like each other.”

Watch the videos to find out if you agree with Block’s assessment of the event. How different people can interpret the same event so differently never fails to amaze or to show one’s true colors.

Steve Jobs and Bill Gates highlight reel:

The complete Steve Jobs and Bill Gates interview videos via AllThingsD:
• Steve Jobs and Bill Gates Prologue
• Steve Jobs and Bill Gates Part 1
• Steve Jobs and Bill Gates Part 2
• Steve Jobs and Bill Gates Part 3
• Steve Jobs and Bill Gates Part 4
• Steve Jobs and Bill Gates Part 5
• Steve Jobs and Bill Gates Part 6
• Steve Jobs and Bill Gates Part 7
• Steve Jobs and Bill Gates Highlight Reel (seen above)

MacDailyNews Take: Those “Get a Mac” ads are so far under Bill’s skin, even liposuction couldn’t remove them. Look just beneath the lovefest veneer to see the adversarial relationship that’s not quite hidden by the PR-induced mutual admiration stuff. If you watch all of the videos, looking at facial expressions, body language, pauses, moments of silence, etc. it comes across loud and clear. Text reports don’t and can’t do it justice. Bottom line: they had to be “nice” to each other in order to not look small, petty, negative, etc. You see the same act played out often in initial political debates. It’s a tactic. Make no mistake, there is no love lost between the two, and Jobs, at least, intends to win. Gates is no longer running Microsoft. Having Gates moving out of day-to-day Microsoft operations must be to Jobs something like Borg’s retirement was to McEnroe. But, that’s okay; it goes beyond the men themselves. It’s about changing the world by making things better with the side benefit of claiming what’s rightfully yours.

57 Comments

  1. Interesting.

    Even though users of the respective platforms may make the Mac vs. PC debate more dramatic than it should be, it’s nice to see that Jobs and Gates seem to have a mutual respect and admiration for each other’s accomplishments.

  2. Twas refreshing to see Steve & Bill interact together with Walt live together on stage. Walt’s probably the only guy that could have set this up. Interesting to see these computer pioneers fawning over each other. Perhaps what we all see here more accurately demonstates their own (not their respective companies’) relationship.

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