The Final Flame of Bill Gates

This morning I sat down at my Win95 computer, turned it on, and to my rage and frustration, was greeted by this message:

Cursing, I pressed the space bar. Very soon I had an entire screen filled with repetitions of this message.

Hearing my sounds of distress, the Better Half turned around from where he was sitting directly behind me at the dining room table, reading the paper, and said, “Blame it on Bill Gates.”

“Well, duh,” I responded crossly, wondering whether there was any point in pressing Control-Alt-Delete, or whether that would only make things worse.

He said, “Bill Gates, the Master Visionary, the Great Innovator, failed to foresee that hard drives would become standard, and that you wouldn’t always have to start your computer by putting a disk in the drive.”

I said, “Wha’?”

He said, “Take the disk out of Drive A. I was working with Print Shop last night and I guess I left one of my floppies in there. Sorry.”

Well, shit. I took the floppy out of Drive A, pressed the spacebar, and was shortly in business for the day.

I have been brooding about this little incident all morning, and I have finally realized that there was more going on than yet another Windows fuckup. Somehow, that simple statement, that the “Master Visionary” could fail to foresee something so fundamental as the existence of a permanent hard drive, caused the scales to fall from my eyes, and I now see Bill Gates for what he truly is. Not the “Master Visionary”, not “the Great Innovator”, but just a guy who happened to be in the right time and the right place to ride the rocket. I used to be so intimidated by him. He, the subject of countless TIME and Newsweek cover stories, featured as nothing less than “The Man Who Changed The World”, stands revealed as no more clueful about computers than my aged mother, surfing the Internet with one hand on the fire extinguisher, in case the World Wide Web should explode in her face.

I used to think he was the Antichrist. Seriously. But now I realize he’s not even a sort of Junior Antichrist. He’s not even a Minion. He’s just another businessman. Businessmen will be a dime a dozen at the Apocalypse. He’s a single paragraph in the computer history books–a short paragraph.

And Microsoft’s travails with the Justice Department are revealed as no more than the petty struggles of a large Seattle contractor, whose efforts to wriggle out from under charges of “monopoly” have availed him naught.

I found the latest Microsoft print ad campaign to be frighteningly inscrutable. Remember it? That’s the big two-page color ad touting the newest version of Windows, whatever it is. “Buy our software!” it trumpeted. “It’s much, much better than that other, sucky software we’ve pictured in this ad!” And what’s the sucky software pictured in the ad? Windows 95. Their own software. I mean, wow! This totally blew my mind. “What are they getting at? It takes real goombahs to knock your own product like that. Are they crazy? Or crazy like a fox?”

But now I realize that it wasn’t the Byzantine thought processes of a media giant, but just the clueless blatherings of a large Pacific Northwest contractor, spinning his wheels as he desperately searches for direction in a world that has moved on, leaving him behind.

Farewell, Bill. The rest of us are getting on with our computing lives. Other, more truly innovative minds will bring us into the 21st century. New versions of Windows that automatically render all our other software obsolete is not what the world wants, Bill. You are confusing “innovation” with mere “novelty”. So we will leave you in peace, sitting there in your pathetic rocking chair, remembering the glory days when all the magazines said you were the man who changed the world. Wallace Carothers changed the world, too. So did Garrett Morgan. And so did Joseph Woodland and Bernard Silver. But who remembers them? Only the Inventors website. Soon your name will be added to the list, to sink into obscurity, remembered only by trivia addicts and fifth-graders writing book reports.

You’re not Henry Ford, Bill. You’re not Kemeny and Kurtzas

You’re not even Nolan Bushnell.

You’re nothing, Bill. Bye-bye.


Never thought I would say this, but…buy a Mac.


I would think that creating an OS that only looks for the system’s software on a permanent hard-drive is the idea that is lacking in vision. Instead, by allowing MS-DOS to run off of a floppy drive, this ensures that you can still use your computer even if your main hard drive is damaged.

I also think that, if you really examine history, you will see that Bill Gates has done more than just be in ‘the right place at the right time.’ Although you (justifiably) may question his business ethics, his marketing of DOS and Windows has been pretty impressive. Although he was not the creator of DOS, his marketing techniques certainly raise him above the level of “just another businessman.” You don’t just happen into a monopoly.

Finally, I disagree with the statement that Gates has ‘confused innovation with novelty.’ What do you consider innovation? Computers with pretty colors on them that aren’t as powerful as Windows-based machines? Ad campaigns with Jeff Goldblum?

Um…you do know that on most machines, you can change the boot sequence so that it doesn’t look at the floppy drive first, if that bugs you, right? And you do know that there are very good reasons for putting the floppy drive first in the boot sequence, right? (Sorry to disagree with Drake Drake Gander(?), the Better Half, but putting the floppy drive first isn’t just stupid short-sightedness. It allows you the option of getting to dos with a boot disk for diags if your HDD becomes corrupt.)


Then carry on. Otherwise excellent rant. :smiley:

Let me also point out that the “Non-System Disk Error” is one of the worst-phrased, most user-hostile messages I’ve ever seen. How hard would it be to say “Disk in drive A: isn’t bootable. Please eject and restart”. I’ve had more calls about that stupid error message…

Fenris (lemme know if you want a hand changing that boot sequence)

Ummm… actually, this has nothing to do with Windows. The computer would do exactly the same thing no matter what operating system you were using. It’s a hardware function. If you computer’s checking your floppy drive first, the CMOS is telling it to do that. All you have to do is set the CMOS to check the hard drive first. Takes thirty seconds to do.

The value in having the computer check the floppy drive (be it before or after the hard drive) will be obvious if you just imagine for a moment what options would be available to you if the hard drive went belly up. When you get a hard disk failure message or find out your seven-year old formatted drive C, all of a sudden a floppy boot is a wonderful thing.

None of this is Gates’s fault. :slight_smile:

*Originally posted by RickJay *
[QUOTENone of this is Gates’s fault. :slight_smile:

If you want someone to blame, blame the founder of Digital Research(name escapes me at the moment). He created the BIOS, and thats where this feature lies. I never disable boot from floppy, because it makes it a pain to fix when something goes wrong. There are several unpleasant things that can happen to a pc that you need to boot from floppy to fix. just eject the disk and get on with life.

Bill Gates is a big Poo.

It may seem like an odd choice but could I pleeeeeeaze have that as a sig line? Pretty please?

It would give me great pleasure, TheVoiceofReason!!!
Oh, and I think that your decision to not capitalise the ‘poo’ works more effectively than my original post. :slight_smile:

So, you’re blaming Bill Gates because you lack the basic observation skills to see that a floppy disk is in the drive.




Blame Bill Gates. 'Cuz he’s rich. And we’re not.

And won’t all of you Gates apologists feel silly when he does turn out to be the Antichrist, after all?

Don’t you feel silly thinking that he is?

There’s starving children in Africa… Blame Bill Gates! The Human Rights conditions in China are deplorable… Blame Bill Gates! Britney Spears is popular… Blame Bill Gates! Chernobyl blew up, black people were enslaved, and kids are shooting each other in school… Blame Bill Gates, Blame Bill Gates, Blame Bill Gates!!

Blame Bill Gates, Blame Bill Gates, he’s not even a real country anyway…

Wait that’s not right…

ANYWAY, having had to reformat my various computers more than once (Physical damage to my hard drive in one case (My fault…dropped a box of floppies on it. >_<), general software fuckups in others.), I THANK GOD for boot from floppy capability.

(And, um, why didn’t you check your floppy drive after the first ‘non-system disk’ message?)

Please envision the following: After some fighting, I finally had a PC running NT. Sweet.

Obviously, NT can’t run out of the box, one needs a service pack, but I’m not one to complain about that - the victory getting the thing to run at all completely overshadowed the fact that it was running in Defective Mode.

I open NTs bundled Web browser (Explorer version something low) and merrily enter Microsofts URL to download the service pack. No go. Microsofts home page answers something like “Did you imagine our webpage could be opened by that pathetic parody of a browser, loser ? Get thee a proper piece of software!”

That’s just marvellous, MS. A webpage that can’t be accessed by your own products. I sure wish my company could treat its customers like that.

Sure, I downloaded Netscape (no problems whatsoever), got my Service Pack and have a running system that will never, ever see a Microsoft Explorer if I have something to say about it.

Linux sounds better and better…

OMG, DDG, you have caused SPOOFE to change his mantra from “Blame Bill Clinton!”, “Blame Bill Clinton!”, “Blame Bill Clinton!”

Don’t you feel bad? :wink:

Well, I hate Bill Gates and always will. I took part in his email tracking test and I have yet to receive my $5K. I have sent multiple letters to Microsoft, demanding my money and they will not even extend the courtesy of a reply. The next time he wants some piece of software tested, he will have to do without my help.

Because it’s a poorly phrased, intimidating message. If you don’t know what it means, it “sounds” like your HDD has crashed. That’s what most non-technical users think when they see it. And even worse, non-techs are taught that if something goes wrong (GPFs, Fatal Exception Errors, etc), they’ll go away if you reboot. This doesn’t. There’s no way to get more info on the message. It doesn’t even mention the floppy drive. Yes, it’s implied, but not to a non-tech. It’s scary if you don’t know what it means.

When I was doing first-tier tech support, that was the single most asked question from panicked customers. And the problem has gotten worse over the years as floppies become less and less used. I suspect that other tech-support people’ll back me up on the frequency that people misunderstand this message.


Hey, hey, HEY! You watch yourself, Beth.

My mantra CLEARLY used to be “Blame Canada, Blame Canada!” Sheesh… get your facts together, dear…

I’m amazed to hear this; I find it hard to believe that people in this situation don’t hear the floppy drive grinding just as the message pops up. I’m the unofficial Solver of Computer Problems for everyone I work with AND my entire family and I know nobody who doesn’t get the floppy drive concept.

I wonder why nobody’s designed a BIOS that comes back with a clearer message.

Anyway, getting back OT, chalk me up in the group of people who don’t understand the anti-Gates thing. You know when people are blaming the concept of floppy boots on Bill Gates when floppy boots are A) not related to Microsoft and B) a good idea, things have taken a turn for the irrational. He’s a successful businessman, good for him. What’s the big deal?