Microsoft would not be better off with Bill Gates


The article is a critique of Ballmer, and the critique is deserved. However, the stock chart would look this way even if Bill Gates had been calling the shots this decade.

See my previous posts about Gates’ failed tablet PC vision. Look at Gates’ speeches and “visions” from CES keynotes, see how late they were to the web, etc. (In fact, only their monopoly position pulled them out of the grave mistake they’d made ignoring the web for so long.)

They fumbled around for years, but Microsoft had (and still has) Windows and Office, that’s it. There was never anything in Gates’ head that was going to change this. Heck, most of his visions are embarrassing. You can plumb Steve Jobs quotes from 20 years ago for nuggets of wisdom, you plumb Gates’ quotes for punchlines. The writing was on the wall, so Gates left.

I’m not saying another CEO couldn’t do something better for Microsoft–clearly Ballmer is not the guy–but it’s ridiculous to think it would be Gates. If he came back it’d be like Michael Dell coming back to Dell. His one way of thinking, and reliance on non-changing conditions (which of course do change), would expose him as having been a good man at the right time back then, but nothing more.


6 thoughts on “Microsoft would not be better off with Bill Gates

  1. Microsoft’s most successful side venture (IMHO) was the Xbox / Xbox360. It’s still debatable on it’s success, but it did set the gold standard for network playing with Xbox Live. It’s about the only example I can think of when Microsoft went out to do something and did it better than it’s competition. The Zune could not compete with ipod. MSN could have been the first successful social network, I think that was an opportunity missed. Now you have Facebook and business networks like who are out there doing it better. I like the Bing Search Engine, but since Google has made it so easy to link everything together (documents/email etc..) I’ve been using that exclusively.

  2. My feelings exactly! Ballmer is an easy target becaus of his trash-talking and buffoonish persona, but it was Gates who decided that desktop Windows should go everywhere, including tablets and phones. It was Gates who insisted on a stylus — something Jobs learned about first-hand with the Newton. It was Gates who stuck to a half-baked networking strategy, ignoring the Internet. It was Gates who decided to create a second-rate, but proprietary almost-UNIX OS (Windows NT), instead of building on time-tested, genuine UNIX (unlike, say, MacOS X). The list goes on and on…I’ve never seen anything truly futuristic from Gates. Just predictions that MS products will be everywhere.

  3. I had the opportunity to hear Bill Gates speak live in the mid-late 90’s. Listening to him you would’ve thought Microsoft invented the Internet.The man has no shame.He is also the satanic spawn of a lawyer and a banker.I’m just glad I’m not a lawyer, a thief, or a banker.– Jimmy Buffet

  4. Beanie,By 1995 there were a number of browsers while Microsoft was still claiming the web would be nothing. They resisted it the same way AOL did. Gates’ memo was simply an “oh shit, it’s not going away and we have to get on board” moment. As for suggesting broadband and applications, there are no points for “suggesting” the obvious. As usual, MS bought someone else’s product and ran with it, making it as proprietary as possible (ActiveX, anyone?) along the way. This led to the spate of sites “best when viewed with” (if not requiring) Internet Explorer. We’re still paying the price for this with the huge installed base of IE 6 today.

  5. Tom wrote:”see how late they were to the web”How is 1995 late? Back then PCs ran on Pentium 2 and Pentium 3 CPUs using 28.8k baud modems. Local BBS and dial-up services such as AOL were popular. 56k baud modems began around 1998.Anyway, the 1995 Gates’ memo suggested a broadband future and applications. Most of the things he mentioned are common place now since DSL and cable broadband Internet exists.Gates was a geek level software architect. He knew his coding stuff.

  6. The Ant and the Grasshopper.””Over the decades, Apple has been updating and improving; planning for the future. MSFT? We’re ten years into the 21st century and they still haven’t even gone UNIX. Can’t they hire SOMEONE with a brain over their?

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