Many readers know my views on Bill Gates – for the past 10 years his tactics – Machiavellian at best, ruthless at worst have proved highly counter productive for the industry and ultimately his company. Just one example is Bills fruitless efforts to replace and then undermine the Web have proven to be futile. And twice Redmond has had to reverse course as others have circumvented his monopoly-based attacks on the Web.
So the question is, if Gary Kildall had not gone flying and Bill had not gotten asked by IBM to do DOS, would the IT World and PC development have been better off. I am not so sure. Obviously, without a major Bill, Apple would have been a much bigger player in the PC market and IBM would have not been humiliated on OS/2 by Windows. There would likely be a more pronounced business versus consumer split in PCs; LANs would have taken longer to migrate to IP and IBMs current OS and hardware agnosticism might not have taken root.
But the most serious problem would be Apples Steve Jobs – its likely he would be just as Machiavellian as Bill.
The evidence. I have just praised iPhone for it UI benefits – but look here for the very short sighted, monopolistic and a “we, and only we, know best how to perfect and extend this iPhone technology” approach by Steve on iPhone. Second, be reminded that Apple lost huge market share to DOS and lame Windows PCs because Steve and Apple followed a “no clones” strategy based on the same “we know best” philosophy. But now there is a persistent enquiry on the Apple backdating of stock options that really puts Apple and Steve Jobs in a terrible ethical light. The inevitable conclusion – Steve would likely have been Bills ethical mis-replacement.