Goodbye Bill Gates, and Thank You

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Bill after being arrested in 1977 after a traffic violationWe at Computer Courage would like to throw in our official farewell and thank you to the man who revolutionized the personal computer, who created the role of engineer-CEO, who inspires entrepreneurs everywhere, and who now runs the worlds largest philanthropic organization – the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Bill, you’ve been a part of it all. You’ve made magic happen, you’ve pissed us all off from time to time, you’ve got your hands into just about every tech industry there is. You’ve created great success stories and miserable failures. You are publicly pitted against your old friend Steve Jobs, but really you two are one in the same.

A few of our favorite Bill Gates memories:

MS-DOS. DOS is nearly forgotten now, having been overshadowed by the GUI and by the leaner, meaner Linux. But for all of you who still use the command line in Windows, for all of you who remember optimizing your autoexec.bat and config.DTs files to squeze out 16k of extra RAM, we raise our glasses and thank you for MS-DOS (even if you did practice some shady business techniques with licensing and PC-DOS.)

Pie in the Face.  As Bill began to emerge as a world figure, he went through one of my personal favorite rights of passage.  For those of you not familiar with it, there is a great history of various groups throwing pies at people of importance, trying to remind us all not to take life too seriously.  A man named Noël Godin got Bill in 1998 in Brussels, and got away with it.  He left this comment “The attack against Bill Gates is symbolic, it’s against hierarchical power itself.”.  Here’s a video:

The XBOX.  Bill’s vision to lead the company into the world of video games was another surprising and successful decision.  I was impressed by the XBOX because of it’s relatively adult-oriented (no, not that kind of adult-oriented) style – the XBOX really doesn’t look like it’s made for kids.  Sure enough, Microsoft got itself right into the mix selling record numbers of video games to the now grown-up video game generation.  By the way, Bill never intended this but the XBOX can be made into an amazing media center.

Internet Explorer.  Once again, Bill drives Microsoft straight into new territory.  At the time of its release, Internet Explorer was a baby next to the goliath Netscape.  Bill had a vision to integrate the web browser right into the operating system, something that not even Apple does today.  This caused a huge barrage of anti-monopoly lawsuits, something MS got pretty used to, and which MS won eventually.  On a personal note, we at Computer Courage much prefer Mozilla Firefox, but we want to recognize Bill and MS the accomplishments of IE.  Internet Explorer brought the internet to the masses, introduced CSS, integrated with video in the pre-flash days (thanks to RealMedia), and made Favorites easy.

Windows Genuine Advantage. Ugh.  By far and away the most annoying thing to ever come out of your camp.  Of course, we all complain about the privacy invasion, the inconvenience, the outages, and the false positives, but most of the complaints probably come from pirates.  The real problem is that the pirates ended up beating the system, leaving only the honest users to suffer.  MS should take cue from their rivals in Cupertino on this one and ditch the copyright protection – trust your users and keep making a good product.

Windows Vista. Yuck.  I’ve already covered this one.

Bill’s Foundation. Bill’s not done yet, he’s off to run his unbelievably altruistic charity, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which will probably do greater good to humankind than any politician, ever.  Thanks for the memories, thanks in advance for wiping the planted of TB, thanks for Windows XP, thanks for all viruses, spyware, driver conflicts, and Windows reinstalls.  Oh yeah, and thanks for the careers.

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