Friday, June 27, 2008

Eulogy

So, as I write this Bll Gates will be logging off and leaving work for the last time.

He has long been admired and derrided in roughly equal measures, but I have nothing but huge admiration for him, the way he has conducted himself and for his ongoing mission.

Microsoft under Steve Ballmer is a corporate beast that is unlikely to innovate again and is increasingly 'getting it wrong'.

Gates was never the fashionista that Steve Jobs is and has never really attracted the praise he deserves for creating one of the best companies in history, ranking with GE and his original nemesis, IBM.

Of course, without him we might now be living in a different world. Better or worse, who can really say. I reckon better.

The only thing he didn't perhaps do was create a more democratic information society, but what does IT matter when so many people have no food, water or shelter.

At the end of that day I quite like the idea that I've been taxed by Bill and much of that money is now being funnelled into good causes. It sure beats letting governments do it.

But the one industry where Bill must be considered a failure is TV. Cludgy attempts at IPTV, seriously poor technologies and an obsession with the OS did the company no favours. The only successes were the quality of the codecs and the DRM. Having long ago lost the creative community, the rest was just pushing water uphill and the forays into content (MSN) and advertising (Atlas) are cursory at best. When the history of TV is written, Steve Jobs' name will loom large, but Bill's will be missing.

As Bill clears his desk and takes his cardboard box home on the bus from Redmond I don't think that he'll give a second thought to this, a minor failure in the overall scope of things.

Curing the world of TB, now that's a whole different matter...

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