The Lite Side

Followup Interview to Bill Gates' Newsweek Meltdown

- 2007.02.07

In a recent Newsweek article, writer Stephen Levy interviewed Bill Gates and asked him some questions about the new Mac ads and the fact that Mac OS X had already implemented features planned long ago for Windows and only just now appearing in Vista.

Among other comments, Gates suggested that the Apple ads spread "lies", and suggests that the new Apple ads are calling Windows users "dullards, or the kind of klutzes that somebody is trying to say they are." The somebody, of course, being Apple's advertisements.

What didn't get published in this interview is even more interesting and shocking. What's shocking about it is the severe state of denial that Gates apparently lives in - and the motivations he has regarding his recent emphasis on philanthropy.

In a followup interview, the Lite Side contacted Gates while he was waiting in line at a Starbucks on his way to work, which allowed us to complete the Lite Side's

Followup Interview to Bill Gates' Newsweek Meltdown

Lite Side: You seemed pretty ticked about the Apple ads, according to what Levy wrote. On the one hand, you say you haven't seen them; on the other, you said that they lie about Windows and call Windows users "dullards."

If you haven't seen them, how do you know that they say these things?

Gates: I have people I pay to watch things like that for me, and they tell Steve Ballmer. Then he tells me. Pretty obvious that a busy guy like me can't afford to actually take the time to watch the ads that my competitor runs on television. Unless you're a dullard.

Lite Side: Well, why don't we change the subject from Apple and talk about Windows. Is there a Blue Screen of Death in Windows Vista?

Gates: There you go again. There's not going to be a BSOD because Vista won't crash. As a matter of fact, there's not a BSOD in Windows XP SP2 either; this is just another case of Mac users comparing a modern Mac to a 1997 Windows machine. That's not fair. There hasn't been a BSOD on the Redmond campus in, oh, four or five years.

Lite Side: Not one?

Gates: I've never seen one, so I'm not sure. But that's what my people tell me.

Lite Side: You've never seen a BSOD?

Gates: How can I? They don't exist.

Lite Side: Okay - let me ask you about your claim that Apple didn't really invent the menu system.

Gates: They didn't. You weren't there at the beginning of the computer revolution. I was. They didn't.

Lite Side: If they didn't, who did?

Gates: Microsoft invented menus. We discussed it in a meeting way back in 1972, which found its way to a memo at Xerox PARC, who actually had the first menus and windowing system. So in a way, when Apple stole these ideas from Xerox, they really stole them from the prior art we had in a memo.

Lite Side: Um, I didn't think Microsoft existed in 1972.

Gates: Of course it didn't. Microsoft was born in 1969, on the day after the moon landing. That's why no one really remembers our launch. It's kind of hard to compete with the first moon landing. Although, if we could take a Vista machine into the past and set it in front of someone who was going to watch the moon landing, we think they'd probably watch Vista over some dumb rocket.

Lite Side: Oh, the line moved. Let me step over this bush here.

Okay, so you're saying that you actually invented the menu system. What about the trash can? I understand Robert X. Cringely invented that for an early Apple machine.

Gates: That's a common misconception. Microsoft is actually the owner of a number of wastebaskets and recycling bins. I have one in my office.

Lite Side: Are you referring to wastebaskets that hold actual, you know, organic waste?

Gates: Of course I am. What are you talking about?

Lite Side: The, uh, trash can that appears on the computer desktop.

Gates: I don't know what you're talking about.

Lite Side: You've never used a trash . . . a recycle bin on a computer?

Gates: I have people who do that for me. Important people.

Lite Side: I see it's almost your turn to pick up your triple-latte malto-mash, or whatever it is you're about to pick up. Let me ask you a couple more questions.

You say that every single day a new exploit comes out that allows a user to take over a Mac. You do know that no regular Mac user has ever actually had this happen except as a demonstration in a lab, right?

Gates: Just because it's hasn't happened yet is no reason to be complacent on security.

Lite Side: We agree. But don't you agree it's far more significant that there are millions of people who have experienced exploited Windows machines compared to the future possibility that some Mac user might get attacked?

Gates: I don't know what you're talking about. No Windows machine I've ever seen has ever been compromised. And even if it had, since we sell more Windows machines in a day than Apple has in its entire operating history, even a tiny percentage of compromised machines would mean that millions of them would be infected or compromised.

Lite Side: You don't seriously mean for me to believe you've never seen a compromised Windows machine?

Gates: Of course I do. I'm worth upwards of a zillion billion dollars. I can pay people to keep any so-called compromised machine out of my sight before I come into rooms and stuff.

Lite Side: I don't think you sell more Windows machines in a day than Apple has in its entire existence. I mean, don't they have from 3-5% of the market, depending on who does the counting?

Gates: That's 3-5 tenths of a percent. I think Apple only sells something like eight or nine machines a year. Mostly to Hollywood types.

Lite Side: Watch out there, you nearly ran over my foot.

If you can afford all this assistance to keep you insulated from the real world, why are you in line to buy your own coffee at a Starbucks?

Gates: Because I'm the guy Bill Gates sends out to talk to low-end schmucks like you, so he can get on with the important business of giving his money away so people will hate him less.

Lite Side: You're not Bill Gates?

Gates: No, but I play him on TV.

Lite Side: You mean....

Gates: Yeah, that guy who was on The Daily Show the other day and ran away when the guest traditionally chitchats with Jon Stewart? That wasn't Gates. That was me.

Lite Side: Well, I guess you're next in the drive-thru, so this, um, fake interview with a fake Bill Gates is nearly over.

One last question. Was it you or Gates who interviewed with that guy in Newsweek?

Gates: Oh that was definitely Bill Gates. But he was stoned out of his mind. You think he seriously believes Apple didn't innovate in the user interface space? Get real.

Lite Side: He was stoned?

Gates: No, he was completely plastered. Wasted. Brain-dead. I should know.

Lite Side: How's that?

Gates: Gates has people who take his drugs for him too....

Lite Side: That would be you?

Gates: Yup.

Lite Side: Have a great day. Enjoy your mutated coffee-thing.

Gates: No problem.

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