Bill Gates: Apple’s done a great job; Microsoft’s working on lot of different pen-based tablets

Pogo Sketch iPhone/MacBook StylusFOX Business Network’s Liz Claman sat down in an exclusive interview with Warren Buffett, Bill Gates and Charlie Munger to discuss Goldman Sachs, derivatives, Wall Street reform, taxes, technology, investments and the future of the United States economy, among other topics.

Two excerpts stood out for us:

Gates on Microsoft’s tablet projects:
“Microsoft has a lot of different tablet projects that we’re pursuing. We think that work with the pen that Microsoft pioneered will become a mainstream for students. It can give you a device that you can not only read, but also create documents at the same time.”

Gates and Buffett on Apple:
• Buffett: “Steve Jobs has done a terrific job. And there will be companies that excel. And occasionally they will excel because of luck, but usually they excel because of brains.”
• Gates: “Yes, I think both in general and in the specific, Apple’s done a great job.”

Full article, via GuruFocus, here.

MacDailyNews Take: It’s a miracle Gates croaked out a compliment for Apple. Buffett’s answer must have cowed him into it. As for Gates’ pen love, let it serve as a lesson: Don’t let yourself get married to an idea or the world might pass you by. iPad creates documents without a pen today, but, fortunately for luddites like Bill (and mitten/glove wearers), it also works with a stylus like this, too.

[Attribution: 9 to 5 Mac. Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Manny S” for the heads up.]


  1. At work they tried using a PDA with a stylus for simple inventory control. Bombed.

    What is necessary is a device that accepts accessories for touch, keyboard, pen, crayon, stylus, whatever, because ppl balk at learning new inputs.

  2. “Microsoft has a lot of different tablet projects that we’re pursuing. We think that work with the pen that Microsoft pioneered will become a mainstream for students. It can give you a device that you can not only read, but also create documents at the same time.”

    Like Courier?, or the HP Slate?

    I think Billy would have better luck wrapping sinew and leaves around a stone and prodding it with a stick then selling his “vision” of a tablet. Actually so far the sinew wrapped stone has been far more useful.

  3. People often overlook just how smart Apple’s touch input is. It calculates the centre of the area you touch and uses that point at the target. I can easily type with my thumbs on the tiny portrait keypad. My thumb covers maybe five keys at a time, but it always recognises the intended one.

    Try it yourself, it’s really effective. Anybody who reckons you must have a stylus or pen for precision input is using outmoded input sensing technology.

  4. I’m happy to navigate iPad UI with fingers and type with its keyboard but killer iPad app for me is marking up PDFs. The promise of iPad is to replace paper. Students want to highlight/underline/draw on their texbooks and write in the margins, professionals and especially anyone involved with writing wants to do the same with all kinds of documents. Pen input and handwriting recognition — and most importantly, highly compatible, cross-application markup layer frameworks — are essential for doing all of this efficiently so I sorely hope Apple and its developers are not as dismissive as MDN on this front. No doubt Microcrap’s version will stink to high hell so Apple has time, but no room for complacency here.

  5. > Microsoft has a lot of different tablet projects that we’re pursuing.

    That Microsoft’s problem right there. With the Windows/Office cash cow still bringing in the money, Microsoft has no focus. It “pursues” a lot of “different projects.” But all Microsoft really wants to do is maintain the status quo; there is no incentive there to SUCCEED at being creative. Microsoft’s strategy for being creative is to react to what Apple does next.

    10+ years ago (when Apple was struggling to recover), there were many clever “projects” in the category of “mobile computing devices” that used Windows CE. Many of them were real products. These devices were equivalent netbooks, tablets, and PDA-like devices of today, except with a lot less CPU-power and functionality, of course. If Microsoft had “pursued” developing its power-efficient mobile OS with one-tenth the resources wasted on “Longhorn,” it is likely that Bill Gates would have had his Microsoft-centric pen-based tablet computers years ago, while Apple was just releasing its first iPods.

    Instead, Apple releases it touch-based vision of a tablet ten years later, and the world goes crazy for it. And we have Microsoft’s founder saying that Microsoft “pioneered” pen-based tablets and they are working on new tablet “projects.”

  6. Imagine the inconvenience of relying on a “pen” to input into a portable device. So really, we’d be expected to carry at least two portable devices – the tablet, and the pen.

    I would lose/misplace/leave-behind my Tablet Pen with alarming regularity;

    Will we be carrying an extra WinPen, thereby having three items to carry?

    Will the Microsoft Pen be tethered to their WinPlate with a lanyard?

    Will Microsoft sell WinPens with a bulk discount?

    Will your WinPlate WinPen work on my WinPlate?

    The Microsoft Way:
    “We can’t come up with a convenient, easy way to use this derivative WinPlate, so we’ll just impose our backward technology on our customers, and we’ll call it choice and innovation. Hahahaha! Suckers! … Oops. Did we just say that “suckers” comment out loud? “

  7. I really think MS – especially Gates and Balmer are living in the ’90’s. Their words back then would make others tremble. Even though MS failed to deliver 7-% or more of the time.

    Now this from Gates.MS always has been a failure and vision of technology. BUt so large no one depending of PC’s dared compete. Apple just focused and delivered to their users. Then Jobs came back and fined tuned the focus. Creativity is supreme. And focus groups are laughed at. MS is the old and new Coke. Clueless if technology. As weird as that sounds. Zero vision of the future. But…

    zero vision of their company. Microsoft. I mean zero. Being a bully worked for them. BUt now that more and more PC folks are not beholding to MS? Every year spells lower earnings for MS. ANd shareholders.


    “I really wish they could integrate a physical rotary dial into the iPhone. Then it really would have taken off.”

    What, is there not an app for that? I am depressed.

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