10 Examples Of Bill Gates Telling It Like It Is

Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates has always seemed to relish the idea of addressing tough questions head-on, particularly when it comes to Microsoft's strategy and those of its competitors. Gates has often done so in testy fashion, as if to say, "You know what? That's a dumb question and I'm tired of hearing it."

So as Gates prepares to ride off into the sunset, or at least scale back his everyday involvement in Microsoft affairs, ChannelWeb decided to look back at previous interviews we've had with the Microsoft co-founder and dig out his most unvarnished comments on various issues Microsoft has faced.

July 2001 (read the full interview)

1. On Microsoft's rationale for starting a channel program

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GATES: The idea we chose was not to be like Oracle in services or IBM in services. Very, very early on we said when we work with PC hardware, we came up with a way that focuses on designing just what we're good at designing: software products. It's natural for us to stick to our core thing and isn't there a way to get other pieces needed through partners. We like to focus on the one piece, which is a very hard piece, the handwriting, the security, development.

September 2001 (read the full interview)

2. On partners' concerns over the complexity of Microsoft licensing

GATES: If you want to interview someone at Microsoft about licensing, you probably picked the wrong person. We do believe software should be licensed. Licensing has never been a big issue in terms of the success of our products, one way or another. We're a high-volume, low-cost provider of software.

3. On Microsoft's .NET strategy

GATES: There's no equivalent to what we have in .NET. I mean, what's Oracle's authentication service? What's Oracle's equivalent of Visual Studio .NET? In terms of what we're doing with these schemas and driving the standards, Oracle's not even there. It's true they are putting XML capabilities into their databases, but that's the only thing of the .NET activities that we see them doing at all.

4. On whether Sun might commit to the Intel platform

GATES: Only over [Sun CEO] Scott McNealy's dead body. As well as saying people shouldn't have PCs and [should] get over the loss of privacy, he's said that he doesn't want to be somebody who's not building his own architecture and that people who buy from Intel have no future and that they are completely worthless. So, they are not serious about anything but their own hardware architecture.

5. On Microsoft's Linux strategy

GATES: We don't have any software that runs on Linux. We don't plan to have any software products [for Linux].

The whole General Public License (GPL) thing is something that sort of breaks the cycle of academic software, which is essentially government funded and made available for commercial people to start with. There's always been free software. And there's always been a virtuous cycle where commercial start-ups take free software and build enhanced versions of it. GPL breaks that cycle.

Next: On Antitrust Claims, Oracle, Novell, And More

6. On the government's claim that Microsoft illegally tied Internet Explorer to Windows

GATES: The lawsuit was not about removing anything; it was about hiding end-user access. The help system is built on the base technology. So, the word "remove"... you should look pretty carefully into what people mean when they say remove.

Removing end-user access is different from removing the code. If you remove the code, of course, the operating system doesn't work. That doesn't mean we can't remove it; we can.

September 2005 (read the full interview)

7. On Microsoft benefiting from Novell's failure to generalize its platform

GATES: Historically, the main company that we really competed for partners with was Novell (NSDQ:NOVL). They had that as a huge asset and because of some missteps in their software strategy we've been a huge beneficiary as they didn't generalize their platform -- we picked up a lot of those partners. I think if you go out there numerically in the world, there still may be more Novell partners than there are Oracle partners or IBM or SAP partners.

Anything Microsoft does that's successful gets -- whether just purely in rhetoric or in actual execution -- gets our competitors thinking, 'Hey, that's a good thing.'

8. On Oracle's acquisition Of Siebel

GATES: Well, [Oracle CEO] Larry [Ellison] predicted that the software industry would consolidate. Through billions of dollars of his spending, he's managed to make his prediction come true.

October 2007 (read the full interview)

9. On the prospect that Google might enter the VoIP market:

GATES: They entered the space ... You should do an article on the market share and popularity of Google Talk. I mean, they're here. They haven't been noticed recently.

The most excitement is before they release something, generally. Before Google Talk was released it was clearly going to cure cancer, and you can judge, look at the usage numbers, and see how it's going.

10. On where unified communications fits into Microsoft's SaaS strategy

GATES: We're moving to have symmetry so you can do it on your servers if you want, you can do it hosted if you want, but actually getting all of the pieces to have that perfect symmetry will take a lot of years.