June 06, 2007
Historical Moment: Gates and Jobs Chat
D5 was unique this year for bringing Bill Gates and Steve Jobs on stage at the same time to address several hundred of the top movers and shakers in the technology industry. Jobs says of Gates, "Bill built the first software company before anyone knew what a software company was. He did this before anyone else. That's the high order bid. Building a company is very hard. Bill's been able to stay with it for all these years."
Bill says, "first to clarify, I'm not the fake Steve Jobs. The idea that the Apple II computer. The bet that Apple made completely, that this could be an empowering phenomena, Apple pursued that dream. People may not remember that Apple really bet the Company on this. He has pursued this with elegance in the industry. Apple was failing when Steve went back and re-infused the innovation and risk taking. The industry has benefited tremendously from his work."
Says Jobs, "We've both been incredibly lucky that we've had great partners and attracted great people, none of which are sitting up here today. We're the stand-ins for all of those great people who made both of our companies."
Asks Walt, "I looked at an Apple print ad and it said, 'thousands of people have discovered the Apple computer, you don't want to buy one of these computers where you have to put a cartridge in, you want a computer where you can write your own ads on."
Walt reminds us, "you guys started in the 1970s..." Gates talks about the fact that there was Microsoft software in early Apple computers. Gates tries to explain but Jobs interrupts, "let me tell the story." He talks about Wocziak and how brilliant he was, what he was working on. He never got around to doing the floating point basic, so we went to Microsoft." Gates pipes in, "it was $31,000 for the floating point basic that they paid us."
Walt asks, "do you ever regret anything, something you could have done differently that could have gained a larger marketshare for the Mac?" Instead of diving into a direct answer, he talks about the differences between enterprise and consumer.
Jobs thinks the current climate is very healthy right now, particularly in the Internet space. Gates agrees that its a healthy period. Says Gates, "the ability to use the cloud to do part of the task to be really productive is great. We'll look back at this as one of the great periods of invention." Jobs says, "I think so too."
Walt says, "so the two of you have a ton of stuff you use on the Internet. But on another level, you guys represent the rich client, the big operating system and there is a school of thought that everything is moving to the cloud. There won't need this kind of investment anymore, they'll be a need to move a lighter version to the clouds." Jobs says, "you mean people will think of us as the dinosaurs."
Gates pipes in, "the network computer took over a few years ago and we'll die. The mainstream is always under attack. The thing people don't realize. You'll always have local rich functionality. It's a question to look at this local richness with richness that is elsewhere.
There are lighter weight hardware Internet connections but when you come to full screen rich experiences................" You can't do it all in the clouds -- its just not viable, not for the mainstream consumer. People want to be ablet o do whatever they want on whatever device they want. They also want experimentation.
Re: Microsoft's next rev, Bill talked about 3D and how it is an excellent way to organize things better. "Software is doing vision," he says. "Video recognition is seeing what people are doing and what is going on. Software can do vision very effectively."
Walt wants to know when it will be different though and pushes for more clarity, i.e., different from the traditional Microsoft folder and file icon drop down menus. Bill reminds Walt and the audience that there have been significant improvements in touch, ink, vision, speech and video, but because we see incremental updates, it doesn't seem as big. If we simply saw the changes from what we used five years ago compared to what we used today, 'you'd really notice a difference,' he notes.
Jobs jumps in and adds, "how much will be doen on the PC and how much on post PC devices in the next several years? So much of the focus now is on the post PC era because its new. The question is that we have to temper and augment what exists today. The radical things that will be done however will be done with post PC devices."
Towards the end of the duo on stage together, they exchange a few personal notations about working with the other over the years, all of which the WSJ documented in great detail in a post event transcript on June 1, 2007.
Gates on Jobs, "we don't have anything to complain about and its been nice to work together. So many people come and go, its so nice when people stick around. There's a reference point."
Jobs talks about when they first started working together. "We were both the youngest in the room, now we're the oldest. I think of the Beatles song, with the line "you and I have memories longer than the road that stretches out ahead." It certainly ended on a sentimental note.
For an extensive selection of photos that I shot from the front row at the event, check out the D5 photo album.
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