Byte-Me magazine interviews Chet Gates

Copyright by Karim D. Ghantous 1997

WARNING: Exaggerations and extreme subtlety prominent in the following mock interview. Some statements are not necessarily accurate and are only included to make a point.

Byte-Me: There is an old joke going around that you bought the Catholic Church. How do you feel about satire like that?

Gates: A joke? Who said it was a joke? Do you realize that there are one billion Catholics around the world? That's a huge market. Our shareholders would not like it if we just ignored this. But, as I keep trying to tell them, although the Catholic Church isn't showing profit as yet, we have a stable, conservative plan to boost sales. This includes licensing the Latin language, re-engineering the Sermon API - the Application Programming Interface - introducing object based eulogy tools and later a version of Visual Holy See++. We'll even have virtual prayer for those who cannot attend mass. And it's great that mass is compulsory for Catholics - it's a sin to no-show - because we can charge a licence fee for each believer once a week for communion rights.

Byte-Me: Sure... let's examine more common criticism. Your critics have -

Gates: Not mine; they're critics but they don't belong to me.

Byte-Me: Mmm... they have claimed that Microshaft has never had an original or interesting idea and that you just feed on other people's ideas all the time. What's your side of the story?

Gates: You know, I'm always getting more and more tired of this sort of bullshit. If they can make better operating systems that we can, I don't see them. Do you know how many copies of Sun's Solaris there are in circulation? A couple of million. Do you know how many copies of NEXTSTEP there are? Much less than that - and to think that it was hailed as the most anticipated product of the decade! There are tens of millions of Windows users out there. I have always been a believer in democracy, both in society and in business. What our competitors are trying to say is that they want to step in like dictators and tell people what they should use. We on the other hand just keep making Windows better and better instead of wasting time with complaining. I mean, look at it this way: who invented Windows? We did. Not Apple, not Sun, not NeXT.

Byte-Me: They also accuse you of hi-jacking the whole computer industry. I bet you hear that a lot.

Gates: Look "computers for the masses, not the classes" - that's always been my motto ever since I founded this company. I mean, do you know how much Sun is charging for their servers? A hundred thousand dollars! And they take up so much room! But if you 'do what everybody else does' and use a Windows NT server it will cost a few hundred and 95 costs only one-sixty dollars. All in a compact, shrink-wrapped little box. You want original? We knew the IBM PC was going to be big so when we were asked to write the operating system, we worked really hard on it.

Byte-Me: Yes, it's true, computers can be confusing in all sorts of ways.

Gates: Well, let me just interrupt here. We are the only ones in the industry who want to genuinely rid the market of confusion. I mean, we have Windows 95/98, Windows NT, Windows CE and of course we still support Windows 3.11. So whenever you move from an office PC to a server to a palmtop computer or specific appliance, you can always be sure that Windows will be on them. That way, there is less confusion and you can get down to business. So not only is Windows easy to use and reliable, it will be a familiar sight to everyone, no matter what they are using. Now, you ask Unix users for example if they can give you that variety. Can they give you a server operating system? Sure, they say, use Unix. Okay, so far so good. Can they give you a home PC operating system? Sure, they say, Unix can do that, too. But what they're really saying is that they only have one product to offer. All versions of Unix cost much more than Windows. That's just another example of elitism for you. I'll just remind you that NeXT no longer makes their operating system, which tells you how 'good' it really was. I think people are seeing that Windows is the future standard...

Byte-Me: Many of these competitors claim that Windows is a 'hog', a 'wheezing fat pig' and is infected with 'code-bloat'. What do you say to that?

Gates: What do they want us to do, stop developing so that it [Windows] stays the same size and so everyone has a chance to catch up on features? You have to be kidding me. I've quite plainly pointed out to Mac users that every application written for Windows - even those written by our competitors - is bigger than the Mac version. The developers don't have the time to waste on the Mac platform. They'd much rather be developing for Windows. Quite frankly, I would blame Apple for all the problems on Windows software, because developers are pressured into dividing their time between two operating systems. And that lack of focus is what is causing what few problems there are on Windows systems.

Byte-Me: But is your technology genuinely better than Apple's or is it that your software is just chosen by default?

Gates: Well, let's put it this way. When John Sculley was still CEO of Apple, one of his programmers did a BASIC for the Mac. By coincidence, so did we, hoping of course to get a contract, there. So, when John made his decision, he chose ours. That says it all. And when others criticized him for that decision, he used us again - this time as scapegoats - and sued us on the pretence of Microshaft copying their 'look and feel'. All we want to do is make great products and we're just constantly criticized and attacked for it. I mean, is there any justice in this world?

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