[Gllug] Bill Gates To Leave Microsoft

Mike Brodbelt mike at coruscant.demon.co.uk
Fri Jun 16 21:48:07 UTC 2006

On Fri, 2006-06-16 at 11:22 +0100, Richard Jones wrote:
> On Fri, Jun 16, 2006 at 11:08:23AM +0100, ben fitzgerald wrote:
> > I'm no MS fan but <smashie+nicie_voice>he does a lot for charity,
> > mate</smashie+nicie_voice>
> But would the world have been better if all that PC "rent" money that
> he forced out of people had stayed with the people?

I actually doubt it. I'm no fan of Gates or of Microsoft, but the wealth
he has amassed in one place has made it possible for him to do things
that, were the cash still spread out thinly, couldn't happen. The
Microsoft tax has probably slowed down innovation in computing, and has
definitely had an effect in terms of keeping old architectures around
long after they should have died. However, the monoculture forced upon
us has created economies of scale that have probably offset the costs.
Just look at the price of SPARC CPUs compared to x86, and then consider
what a fast chip might cost if there were 20 vendors, each with a
different architecture, and a 5% market share. I'm not sure that
hardware would actually be cheaper.

> It's nice that he's giving some of it to charity, but just remember
> that for him to have that money, PCs cost hundreds of pounds more than
> they should do[*], and whole economies ship literally billions of
> pounds each year to a site in the north west of the USA.

There's a good possibility that the work done by the Gates foundation
will save the lives of thousands in developing countries, and it may
also contribute towards a cure for malaria and other diseases, many of
which have received little attention for a long time due to the
demographic they affect. I think that whatever one may think of Bill
Gates and Microsoft, it's difficult to refute that he's doing real good
with the foundation these days. The cynical view is that having got to
where he is, he's now rather more worried than he used to be about how
he'll be remembered. Anyone remember the not so subtle historical
omissions in Encarta? Motivations notwithstanding however, it may be
more important that the sort of stuff he's funding gets done than the
reason it gets done.


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