Bill Gates; Good, Bad or necessary evil?

IMHO I don’t know. Every computer I use- uni’ work and home has Windows of some sort installed as the OS. I’m viewing this webpage using Internet Explorer. My coursework, reports at work are written up on Word, spreadsheets on Excel. Now one or two of the games and demos on my PC are MS products as well. This is one market where choice is everywhere except with OS and the software bundle. I know that I can use other OSes and software packages but I never see the need. Whereas if I want to buy a car or TV or a loaf of bread I’m fairly free to choose Bill Gates doesn’t seem to have left me with much choice.
Question- am I any worse off? :confused: If Bill Gates had been run over before he got to type his first line of code would I have a superior OS and much better packages on my PC or would I still be peering at my Sinclair Spectrum on the TV set. Has he done good things or bad for the computer industry or is he equally good and bad for it?

We’ll never know, really. Some say that if Microsoft hadn’t garnered the market, some other company would’ve, and it would have been the exact same situation all over again… just with a different name. Others say that having a dozen smaller companies making OS’s would ensure that they’d all be of a higher calibre… but I don’t follow that logic, as each of those smaller companies would have - surprise! - fewer resources to devote to their product.

And besides, the computer world being what it is, a single unifying standard throughout has been extremely beneficial. Microsoft, for good or ill, has at the very least forced that standard into being (and, yes, I know that their standard could be a bit better). If the market were full of a dozen smaller companies, then that standard would have taken longer to come into being.

Bill Gates had some good ideas in the beginning, but his monomaniacal obsession to own everything has done so much damage to personal computers and personal technology that I’d have to vote “evil.”

Well, the question asked in the OP depends on what you use computers for. The OS is just a tool and like every other tool out there using the right tool in the right place is the key to doing the job right.

For home and most business users Winblows is a mighty fine OS. A while ago the Mac OS was way better than Windows but now the difference is trivial.

For networking people Windows is problably the worst choice, IMHO. The reasons are pretty simple. Windows is not secure and is targeted for more attacks than other systems. It isn’t as stable as some other systems. And, last, it cost more than some other systems.

The worst thing about MS is their adapt and extend stratagy. They have a history of adapting open standards and then extending them so that MS versions of the standard only work with MS products. Most of the time they get put in their place but they keep trying it. They did it with Kerberos and more recently they set up MSN so that it would only allow MSIE users to the site. MS claimed other browsers wouldn’t work with the site. It turned out that if you fudged your user settings with Opera and a couple other browsers to fake out the MS sniffer program the site worked just fine. Other scary things are the MS .Net, Windows XP verification and Passport ideas. I DO NOT want MS to have my personal information or control whether or not my OS works if I upgrade my box.

So, to answer the OP, MS is sorta evil trying really hard to be pure evil.


I asked a bunch of serious OS pros this question two years ago at a conference: “Is there a worse OS for the Intel platform the MS-Windows?”

They all agreed it was the worse. MS did not get ahead by being “better” no more than VHS beat Beta by being “Better”. American consumers routinely make really lousy purchasing decisions. The majority of experts on PC platforms I know consider the Amiga to have been the best platform in power, cost, system software, etc. And most people reading this don’t even remember the Amiga.

Regarding Bill Gates in particular. He will do anything to win. Ethics is a totally irrelevant concept. In American business today, you do whatever you can to as many people as you can. Enron is just the tip of a very large iceberg.

Gates will not be viewed in history as positive as Andrew Carnegie or John D. Rockefeller. That’s not saying a whole lot.

Pushkin says:

and then:

You’ve just acknowledged a choice you’ve made. Where’s the lack of choice?

I’m with galt. Those evil Microsoft bastards, how dare they make things convenient for you?!

Meantime, if you can stand a little extra effort, pick up Linux or BeOS, or go Macintosh. There’s no point consistantly buying a company’s product and then kvetching about it. Are they evil because they take advantage of your inertia?

I’d see more honour in Microsoft haters if they spent time promoting alternative choices (which is difficult) instead of complaining (which is easy). If you want to bankrupt Microsoft, boycott them.

Microsoft has designed their product for the lowest common denominator… which is what the majority of consumers are. Those who rave against Windows have been, in my opinion, the computer elite who actually care about the shortcomings that Windows has.

As for Bill’s business ethics… he’s no different than any other businessman in America, except that he’s the guy on top, and as such, the biggest target.

The major selling point of the Windows systems has been their flexibility. If I was running an internet server, it would definitely have Linux, and if I wanted a workstation exclusively for multimedia, I’d consider BeOS. But since I need a computer that has internet capability, multimedia editing, word processing, games and other applications, I need something general-purpose. So far, that’s been the various versions of Windows.

Sure, it’s clunky, inefficient, slow and prone to crashes, but it does most of what I need most of the time, and Microsoft managed to deliver, most of the time. The “computer elite” who want to focus on a single set of tasks can readily find operation systems suited to those tasks, but suggesting that everyone needs a non-Windows OS is pointless, as it would be for SUV drivers to constantly lambaste all non-SUV cars, even though they are suitable for the needs of most people.

On a side-note: I see a clear Mac bias from some of my computer instructors, and that’s fine, but they’re over-specialized. Take them out of their field and they’re screwed.

Doh!:o Yes I am lazy. I meant that the alternatives seem to be hidden away under a slew of MS marketing and their own percieved complexity. I’ve read articles extolling the virtues of Linux but then furthur on the routine to go through just to get them installed is off putting. Is Bill Gates really hiding something better than Windows from me or has he provided something superior?

I am agnostic on the question, but if you want to see personified evil, read what the NY Times magazine had to say about Larry Ellison yesterday.

I think it is more or less obvious what the software world would look like with a half dozen or more incomaptible OSs. It would look like Unix does today (or did, before Linux rolled over them all). If you get a Unix program, you get it in source code form generally and it is up to you to compile it yourself. Also, in most cases to make whatever changes have to be made in the source to get it to even compile on your computer. Open source has both advantages and disadvantages. If you are up to it, you can fix the bugs that bug you. As you can with Linux. On the other hand, do you think we would see computers in most homes? Do you think the i-net would be what it is?

Promoting alternate choices is easy; getting clueless Windows users to listen is hard. :wink: