Tag Archives: Bill Gates

Bill Gates – Looking Back, Moving Ahead

 

Bill Gates - Looking Back, Moving Ahead

Bill Gates - Looking Back, Moving Ahead

Just today I was looking for some Microsoft videos related to MMS 2008 when I located some video gems about Bill Gates and his history at Microsoft.  The Microsoft web site is providing a collection of videos for use with the press.  The primary video revolves around Bill Gates.  It contains some very interesting new material and includes a number of interviews with very famous Microsoft employees and even some of Bill Gates’ family.  The video collection is of very high quality and shows a great deal of production work went into it.  If you have any interest in Microsoft or Bill Gates, I highly recommend watching them.

To get the full list of videos, go here.

There are a number of stories from the various interviews that you might find interesting.  For example, there is a video clip dedicated to the 1978 picture of the original 11 Microsoft employees in Albuquerque.

In a way, the Bill Gates video is a summation of his work until now.  It was built to acknowledge his accomplishments during his departure in June 2008.  Regardless of how you feel about him, it is clear that he succeeded even though he dropped out of Harvard.

His Dad has a great quote towards the beginning of the video.  He basically says that “we didn’t know that we have something world-class going on in our living room”.  Nothing like a parent to set you straight :).  I’m sure it was a joke but it does indicate how proud his father is.

The main video is fifteen minutes long and is well worth it.  It is more like a documentary you would see on TV than a typical company promotional video.

Bill and Steve Meeting History

D5 video showing when Bill and Steve were together.

Steve and Bill have only been seen together around 5 times.

  1. 1983 Apple Mac discussion with Dating Game spoof
  2. 1991 Fortune magazine interview
  3. 1997 MacWorld
  4. 2005 D3
  5. 2007 D5

The referenced video documents what happened during the first four “meetings”. Actually, they were only together on stage for 1983 and 2007. The 1997 MacWorld event used a video link. The Fortune interview appears to have happened at Steve’s house. At D3, they were on stage separately.

The early 1983 video is probably the most interesting since it reveals a co-dependence between Microsoft and Apple at the time. Bill looked so young then.

I missed this the first time around. I would have listed this first since the video was intended as the prologue.

The limited number of meetings indicate competition but probably also different focus points. The 1997 speech by Steve shows the early acceptance of not trying to stir up Microsoft. At that point things would have been a bit sensitive given the darker years of Apple. There is a great writeup about Steve’s return to Apple on Wikipedia. I did not know that Apple had bought NeXT or that it was the basis for OS X. I also did not know that he is only a $1 a year salary. Not to worry, he does have lots of stock options.

The more I learn about Bill Gates and Steve Jobs the more interesting the stories become. These are certainly not boring people that only know technology. Both have a great deal of savvy that has helped them to become the business leaders they are now.

This is mostly just filler. Watch the video! It is almost guaranteed that you will get a kick out of the “Dating Game” sequence where Steve is the one looking for a date. Bill is one of the candidates.

This kind of material is typically so rare and that is probably why I bothered to post about it in the first place.

Steve Jobs and Bill Gates (Friends or Foes?)

The Future of the PC

For the last few days I have been trying to put together a post revolving around a magazine I’ve kept since 1991. The article is called “The Future of the PC” in Fortune Magazine from August 26, 1991. The article tries to sum up the first ten years of the PC (born 1981) and tries to capture what will happen next. The cover shows very young looking Bill Gates and Steve Jobs sitting next to each other on a circular stairway.

At the time, Steve was at NextStep. There was a bit of angst about what was going on with IBM. In general it was a transition time from pre-Internet to Internet era.

Unexpectedly, I discovered a recent video interview of Bill Gates and Steve Jobs at the D5 conference sponsored by the Wall Street Journal. It was filmed in 2007 and most likely many of you have already seen it. If you haven’t, and are interested in the workings of the industry, it is a must watch.

Between the magazine article and the video interview, a pattern begins to emerge. Bill and Steve have a complex relationship based on what is going on but essentially they are friendly rivals. In the video, it seems evident that there is kind of mutual respect. It is obvious to say that they are very different people with different philosophies as well.

Over the years, Bill and Steve have met on stage very few times.  In fact, I have only found three instances of public meetings since 1991.  The D5 conference last year was the most public and also the most broadcasted on the Internet.  From the D5 video you can really get the gist of their relationship.

Intelligence is a key factor.  Bill and Steve are always trying to up the ante about what they are working on or what they know to be true.  It is important for them to be clear about what their vision is and how it will come true.  Thought is always at the forefront.

The past is a common thread.  Bill and Steve have worked together in the past on the Macintosh project.  In fact, both have fairly good memories from this time.   Perhaps this was true due to Microsoft not being in the GUI space around 1984.  It is also important for Bill to mention that they have been and continue to be allies.  It seems that they agree on this point but there does seem to be tension still.  Obviously Apple wants more of the pie.  Apple also believes that it was first and that it deserves more credit for the pioneering work done.

If you watch the video, keep in mind that Microsoft and Apple are competitors.   Some key messages come across as both try to push their views.  Microsoft is trying to be all things to all people.  This makes sense from an operating system point of view and even suites like Office.  Microsoft thinks that more and more needs to crammed into one device.  The philosophy is that more is always better and that more function is key to wider acceptance.  Apple, on the other hand, believes in specialization.  Apple thinks that the device and software should do one thing really well.  This is reflected in new devices like the iPod and iPhone.  It could be argued that the iPhone is actually many things in one but the point still remains that the pieces fit well together for what people want instead of the extra baggage they don’t want.

This key difference shows the expression of thought of Bill and Steve.  Their beliefs have steered the companies they control.  Because of this, it would be hard for either company to think the opposite of what they do now.

Based on the trends in the market, the pattern is towards specialization.  Instead of being a general purpose computer, the model will shift to specific implementations that solve specific needs.  This is possible due to more focus on customizing software components to work together much like integrated circuits first changed how electronic components were built.  In a way, we are seeing a push back from being so general to being more specific again.  The real power comes from having common components (hardware and software) to do it.  This has been particularly strong with hardware appliances in the networking business but the idea is spreading quickly to consumer markets.

If you don’t need to know how to use a computer to do tasks that are useful, then why not do it?  Other benefits come from not being restricted to having a massive hardware requirement for a massive inclusive operating system.

Getting back to the topic of Steve and Bill, towards the end of the video they are asked what aspect they envy of each other.  Bill responded that he admired Steve’s ability to build the right teams to build the right products.  He essentially also wished he had Steve’s taste in things.  Steve, on the other hand, wished that he had Bill’s ability to partner with many different companies to build successful products.  Obviously both saw these things as weaknesses in themselves relative to the other.

There was no sign of hostility to each other like might have been seen when they were much younger.  They have aged well and certainly are more wise and mellow than before.  There were many quick humorous statements meant to target the other but they both just brushed these remarks off and moved on.  The are old enough not to just react.

Personally I really enjoyed watching the D5 video because it is a true representation of the history of the industry.  These two people have controlled the destiny of two of the most important companies in the computer industry.  These are real men with plenty of passion but who also make mistakes from time to time.  It is a treat to see this kind of view be so public.

In reference to my previous post about the hypothetical entry of Apple into the enterprise market, I must confess that I do not see Steve Jobs going that direction.  The obvious exception is any new devices that he can create that are outside the realm of what is now considered a PC.  He calls it a post-PC environment and I believe his secret is that he thinks that the era of PCs is coming to a close.  Otherwise it would not make sense that he is investing so heavily in specialized devices built on what was learned from the PC era.  I hope this catches the attention of a few people.

He might very well be right (assuming that he thinks this is true in the first place).  Every era must come to an end.  Something better than the typical PC is bound to show up eventually.  Apple has a good shot on taking that on.

The highest chance of success comes from mixing the “Cloud computing” model with the specialized device model.  Steve talks about this in relation to Google.  It is clear that Steve knows the value of this model and the potential market as well.  He gives having maps on the iPhone as an example but it really expands much bigger than that.  It is also evident that Bill is more in react mode than innovate mode when it comes to this kind of thinking.  In fact, it seemed that Bill is largely staying away from the concept of “Cloud computing” and trying to consolidate the power into the PC as it has been since 1975.  Perhaps this is because Bill sees the cloud as a threat and will only invest heavily in things that are known to work well like search.

I would end this post by concluding that Steve and Bill are friendly to each other and have even enjoyed time together but that they are still foes when it comes to the companies that they represent.  If you watch the video, you will know what I mean.

Bill Gates’ Charmed Life

billgates.jpg

Microsoft and Citrix have had a long and productive relationship.  Microsoft gave Citrix the ability to create the terminal services business and Microsoft bought the technology when it matured.  The partnership continues strongly today from the new focus on virtualization and branch offices (not necessarily together).

I was looking for some new material on the new project between SanDisk and Microsoft that is now dubbed StartKey.  Along the way I found the 2008 CES Keynote with Bill Gates.  This is embedded in the Microsoft CES web page.  When you first come to the CES page, it pretty much demands that you install Silverlight.  If you select the link for the CES Keynote here, you won’t have to get Silverlight going just yet.

What prompted me to investigate this Keynote video was that it was announced that Bill Gates’ last day is coming in July 2008.  After that, he is going to focus on his Foundation work.  The Keynote video starts much like any other high tech video with lots of polish and marketing.  After about five minutes of introduction and Bill Gates talking about his history with CES and final day, he shows a video of what his last day might be like.

It’s amazing and funny at the same time.  I was quite surprised with his attitude of essentially being roasted by a collection of very famous people.  You will certainly not believe who shows up and how casually they treat this.  It is certainly worth watching.

Later on I was thinking how charmed Bill Gates’ life has been.  To be one of the richest men in the world doing what he loves doing anyhow is certainly a blessing.  He has changed quite a bit over the years and has certainly mellowed with age.  It looks like history is going to be very kind to Bill.

Thanks for giving Citrix a chance Bill.   It has been a good ride together.