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Gates and Jobs together again!


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Let's face it: both guys are multi-billionaries who made their fortune on a weird combination of being assholes and geniuses, simultaneously. They have more in common than a lot of people think, but it's obvious to me that the main difference is that Steve Jobs has a lot more taste and style. (Steve said as much in a profile on 60 Minutes a year or two ago, and wound up apologizing to Gates, but adding that it was still true.)

I think Jobs realizes the Mac needs Microsoft applications in order to keep going, and I personally use Microsoft products every single day. I still hate the company, but I concede that they make good products.

In the case of Apple, for years in the early 1990s, Mac fans paraded around conventions with T-shirts that said "Hate Apple... Love the Mac." Apple as a company has made some unbelievably stupid mistakes over the years, but the Mac OS and their current computers are brilliantly done.

I also have to say, Windows fans can bash Apple all they like, but in reflection, it's clear to me that Windows Vista would never be as good as it is had the Macintosh never existed. (And vice-versa, too.)

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I guess you're saying that competition is good.

It can be. There's no question to me that neither the Mac nor Windows machines would be as good today if the other had never existed.

But competition can also be very bad. The old "Beta vs. VHS" competition from the 1970s and 1980s didn't help consumers or manufacturers at all. There have been many similar lessons learned over the years; the latest is HD-DVD vs. Blu-Ray DVD, where again, consumers are confused and manufacturers are losing money. Not an easy situation to predict.

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I remember the VHS Beta war, and was a victim, having gone with the 'better' format. The HD Blu-Ray situation is almost identical, from what I can gather, but I'm not getting into it at all this time. I'll wait till the dust settles before making any choice. It's quite possible they will both be surpassed by some kind of PVR chips anyway.

The computer/software situation between the PC and Apple seems to me to be a different situation, because each is not so much a hard and fast piece of equipment, but a fluid change of systems, each developing in response to each other and the marketplace.

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I wonder, old cynic that I sometimes am, if what we are seeing between Jobs and Gates, is a public friendly business competitiveness designed to cover up a private corporate virtual-merger of both companies, that seemingly leaves us with two operating systems, when in fact it will be only one with different "skins."

Why would they do this? -Because they have learned it is cheaper to avoid a confrontation with the Department of Justice which would or should, be most unhappy if an actual merger was to occur. Such a merger would also give an untold amount of power to those very few people who already have almost untold financial wealth.

Avoiding the interference of various Trade Practises Commissions and other such watchdogs may also be the targets of such a business based deception.

This needn't even be a deliberate conspiracy to "control the world" by these apparently somewhat benevolent CEOs, but the danger is that this effectively disguised merger falls victim to a takeover by those whose ambition is more aggressive in their desire to control the computer systems that control *the System.*

It doesn't take too much imagination to realise what Hitler or other despots would have done if they had had access to such control.

Hey, Shakespeare would have written a play about it, Macbeth could have been MacJobs,

Richard the Third would be William Gates the Third,

"Julius Gates" offers wonderful scenes of Brutus Jobus delivering an eulogy after Julius is assassinated for the good of the ROM, or alternatively he could have taken a lighter view which the comedies offer:

All's Gates That Ends Gates

The Two Gentlemen of Silicon Valley

Bit for Byte.

Much Ado About Getting Everything.

I'm sure you can think of other parallels. An issue here is why our modern day playwrights and screenwriters aren't rising to play with this material? But that is another story.

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Jobs and Gates, despite appearances, are not on good terms owing to a long standing feud about the design of Windows being a ripoff of the Mac interface* and the fact the settlement deal was munged up by the lawyers. I could go on, but I won't bore you. Mr Jobs and Mr Wozniak take it quite personally, I assure you.

* which in turn belongs to Xerox Parc, but that's another story.

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Jobs and Gates, despite appearances, are not on good terms owing to a long standing feud about the design of Windows being a ripoff of the Mac interface...

It's much more complicated than that. Read these books:

The Second Coming of Steve Jobs by Alan Deutschman

iCon: Steve Jobs, The Greatest Second Act in the History of Business by William Simon and Jeff Young

Insanely Great: The Life and Times of Macintosh, the Computer That Changed Everything by Steve Levy

Apple Confidential 2.0 by Owen Linzmayer

Barbarians Led by Bill Gates: Microsoft from the Inside by Jennifer Edstrom & Eller Marlin

Hard Drive: Bill Gates and the Making of the Microsoft Empire by James Wallace & Jim Erickson

Breaking Windows: How Bill Gates Fumbled the Future of Microsoft by David Bank.

There are many others (most of which I've read), but these will tell you most of the story, from various points of view, and I think you can get a well-rounded view of what really went on over the last 25 years. The reality is that Apple paid Xerox PARC to see their technology, then used it in the original Macintosh, yet Xerox wound up suing (and settling with) Apple, because Xerox felt Apple borrowed more ideas than they had expected. Microsoft outright stole the Macintosh interface when Gates famously told his engineers, "I want the Macintosh interface on the Windows platform." That's the difference.

Apple lost the lawsuit because one of the key elements of patents is the problem of "prior art," when something patented turns out to be based on something that somebody else invented. So they basically perfected PARC's interface, but didn't create it from scratch.

I believe Jobs has long since abandoned any hatred of Bill Gates or Microsoft, and I think Jobs looks on both as necessary evils, even collaborators, on the road to helping users and making money. I also believe Microsoft is still nervous about being looked upon as a monopoly, and they want to see Apple stay in business so Microsoft don't own 100% of the computer business, for fear of being forced to split up the company.

But at the same time, I don't think Jobs respects Microsoft as an innovator. I think he does respect the company as a business, but those are two different things.

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