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Out of the Question

Out of the Question

Hello. Hello. Mr Gates. Wait up. (I’m jumping up and down.) Yoo-hoo! Bill . . . Hey, over here . . . (I’m waving my arms.) Can you see me yet? I know you left the country a couple of days ago and I’m just a speck on the horizon but squint a bit and I’ll wave some more . . . See me? It’s me, Linda Kennedy. Not that you know me or anything, although I have interviewed you a few times. Still it’s been a while — think the last time was back when the Windows 3.0 juggernaut was taking the desktop by storm.

(I’m jumping and waving some more.) Can you see me now? Sort of? Well, that’s great.

Hey, how ya doing? Long time, no see. Sorry to bother you, but I was in New Zealand when you were in Sydney, so I didn’t get to go the Microsoft press thingy. Looks like it went well. Guess everyone’s pretty happy.

Anyway, back to why I was trying to get your attention. Well, I’d like to ask my one question. I know it’s post-event and I don’t have an ID but that is my picture up there — really, promise, cross-my-heart.

Here’s my question: Bill, when you’re by yourself and in a reflective mood do you ever think, “We should have stuck with OS/2”?

I know you guys never dreamt that Windows 3.0 was gonna be as BIG as it was. I know that Win 3’s take-up gave you an unequalled opportunity to not only own the desktop, but ALL the apps. (Well, except for a database initially, but the FoxPro acquisition bailed you out of that one. And shafting 3Com with Lan Manager went a long way to fixing the network OS issue.) I know the desktop looked like a gold mine (and, by George, it was), but, Bill, you weren’t thinking about the big picture: the enterprise. (Who’d have thunk PC servers would end up powering the enterprise? And back then, no one suspected the World Wide Web.)

So what did you end up with? Well, all right, yes — more money than anyone in the history of the world. I’ll grant you that, but what I really meant was your company has ended up with a desktop operating system (even with the secret ingredient having a strong aftertaste of VMS) trying to function as a hard-arsed, bulletproof enterprise operating system.

There is a reason for all those headlines in the national dailies — the ones where enterprise CIOs were getting ever so testy with patches, downloads, scalability and all the stuff that’s a pain with Windows but was promised in OS/2. A promise that became too hard to keep given the temptations for your company to screw IBM, Novell, WordPerfect, Lotus and most of your applications competitors by making a late reversal to become the Windows Company.

Not that you’ve done too badly since then, but just think if you had stuck it out with IBM and OS/2. Do you ever wonder whether you wouldn’t need to be coming up with spin to explain why people should ignore open source and stick with your copyrighted goods?

Oh sorry, that’s two questions. I forgot you limited the press to one each.

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