Re: Salon 21st | Why Bill Gates still doesn't get the Net

Joachim Feise (
Tue, 30 Mar 1999 15:50:12 -0800

I sent that too early, the best bit is on the second page:

To anyone with a reasonably long memory, Gates'
pooh-poohing of Linux offers an overpowering
whiff of d=E9j=E0 vu: The last time Microsoft
dismissed a popular new technology as being good
only for "the student and hobbyist market," as
Gates is now describing Linux, it was the early
'90s, and the technology in question was the
Internet itself -- which, like Linux today, was "too
hard to use," "didn't have a good graphic
interface" and just didn't fit into Microsoft's
vision. Just as "The Road Ahead" required drastic
re-routing, don't be surprised if "Business @ the
Speed of Thought" -- which today barely
mentions Linux -- issues a second edition replete
with revisions about the free software/open-source
movement. =

Joachim Feise wrote:
> =

> =

> If you plow through "Business @ the Speed of
> Thought" you will quickly realize three things:
> Nearly everything Gates writes is obvious. Nearly
> everything Gates writes is right. Yet somehow he
> has missed the real story.
> =

> He's right that digital technology allows companies
> to react faster. He's right that e-mail allows
> important news to bypass hierarchical bottlenecks
> and get to the people who need to know it. He's
> right that abandoning paper and "going digital" can
> not only cut costs but create new business
> opportunities.
> =

> To such revelations, at this point in history, one
> can only respond: duh!
> =

> But your eyes may glaze over as Gates delivers
> example after example of mega-corporations like
> McDonald's, Nabisco, Boeing and Coca-Cola
> achieving digital nirvana. And as the book
> progresses, a subtle blurring of a key distinction
> takes place: Going digital is gradually equated
> with replacing all your old systems with
> Windows-based PCs. A handy appendix at the
> book's end provides a technical roadmap; all that's
> missing is a 1-800 telephone sales line for
> Windows 2000.
> ...
> But the Internet that Gates depicts is barely
> recognizable as the Net on which more and more
> of us work and play. For better and worse, today's
> Internet is a vast, teeming commons on which
> buggy technological innovations, experimental
> business plans, fringe political movements and
> evanescent pop-culture trends are all emerging,
> converging and mutating. The Net has become
> such a crucible for human energy because its
> technical standards remain wide open -- it's the
> proverbial "level playing field." Gates does wield
> considerable influence, largely because he sits
> upon an enormous mountain of cash that enables
> Microsoft to acquire promising small companies
> whenever it chooses. But he does not call the
> shots.
> =

> This must be galling to him.
> --
> The pessimist complains about the wind,
> The optimist expects it to change,
> The realist adjusts the sails.