People who read my blog entries know that I am a fan of Behavioral Finance. I am mentioning this because I want to use the last sentence as a disclaimer.
Here is my grand sweeping statement:
Apple, nice knowing you good bye, Sun interesting language too bad it wont stay, Oracle go sail away.
Yesterday I watched The Daily Show with John Stewart where Bill Gates was a guest. Bill Gates normally is a geeky kind of guy and as many have said has poor presentation skills. What I saw yesterday made me think that the tide has turned. I think Microsoft is here to stay and people will overwhelmingly remember Bill Gates and Microsoft as good person. I think Microsoft will be a legacy that we accept and not regret.
For comparison, remember Bill Clinton? One of his memorably moments was him playing the saxophone on the Arsenio Hall Show. That moment made Bill Clinton interesting and somebody the “common person” could understand. It made Bill part of pop culture. Let’s remember even today Bill Clinton enjoys a huge amount of popularity.
Yesterday with Bill Gates on “The Daily Show” I feel there was a pop culture moment, and it can best be summed up by what John Stewart said at the end of the show while talking to Steven Colbert.
John: And before we go, on to the Colbert report.
Colbert: In honor of the worlds richest man… Send ol’Billy boy to have some.
John: That’s very sweet Steven, but he left, quite quickly if I may add.
Colbert: Really, ah really, ok. No problem I guess I will just send this to his foundation.
John: He is a very busy man.
Colbert: Oh I am sure he is. Selling computers, saving the rain forest, ending malaria. I am sure all those things are more important than trying my cake.
John: Well, I would guess they are.
Colbert: [Emphatically] Oh I am sure they are.
John: No, I think they are.
Colbert: [Emphatically] I agree.
John: I will see you in a minute Steven.
Notice how selling computers, saving the rain forest, and ending malaria are all in the same sentence. This says quite a bit about how Bill Gates is being viewed in the pop culture media.
Bill by showing up on The Daily Show and not talking like a complete nerd, and more like a normal human being that cares about the planet and its inhabitants has changed things. I first encountered Microsoft in 1987, and when I called to become a beta tester they asked, “You really want to test software for us?” Needless to say I beta tested Windows 3.0. During the late 80’s and 90’s hate surrounded Microsoft with phrases like Microshaft, MicroSlough, or Micro$oft. I shifted to Open Source in the late 90’s and today use Open Source for many things. Though I will admit that I am an Open Source .NET kind of guy that appreciates Microsoft.
This change in tide is important because I think there is a split happening between the younger generation and those from the 80’s and 90’s. I think the rebels of the 90’s are becoming the “old” guys. For example in the referenced article there are hypocritical statements like:
And for the new rebel generation that has grown up with computers, they see the Windows Vista PC, not as a tool that will help them build their dreams, but a barrier whose end user license agreements, restrictions on content, and closed development processes stand in their way.
Yet in the paragraph above the poster said:
Today’s rebel is wearing a Google T-shirt, carrying an Apple laptop and promoting their company from a Linux infrastructure they don’t even own.
Google, and Apple are just as restrictive and in many cases more than Microsoft. For example, let’s say you use a Google web service. In Google’s terms of service they explicitly say they could cut you off whenever they please. Imagine if Microsoft had the ability to stop you from running any particular application, people would cry bloody murder. Yet Google and Apple can get away with it.
No, I think to the younger pop culture generation Bill Gates and Microsoft will appear as a company that cares about the planet and its people. Microsoft is here and will remain here for decades to come. After watching The Daily Show I realized for the rest of my life I will be using Microsoft Windows. This makes me think about what companies to invest in for the long term.
Though I do think the exception to the rule is Linux and its niche status. Linux is being used to help the planet with projects like the 100 USD computer.
Additional NOTE: I completely disagree with comments like the following from the 80’s and 90’s link.
The high-school developer in a garage with a cool idea isn’t thinking about getting her product to Microsoft — she wants to get it onto the Internet where it make her world famous, not hold her hostage to lawyers and marketers locked into an obsolete business model. And she wants her ideas to be used and shared in millions of devices across the world, not locked in a vault with a thousand others, waiting for competitor’s threat to free them.
As an author of two Ajax books and someone who has lived breathed and eaten Internet for the past decade the next decade will NOT be about the Internet. It will be about hardware like iRobot.