Sir William Gates III has waded into comments by Steve Jobs in his biography, claiming that the cargo cult messiah could never really deal with the fact that Microsoft outsold Apple machines “by a lot.”
Talking to Fairfax Media, Gates took time out to answer Jobs’ criticisms about him which were published in his biography. Amongst other things, Jobs said that Gates was “unimaginative” and hadn’t invented anything.
Gates told Fairfax that Jobs was “brilliant” and he enjoyed working with him on Mac software and also competing with him. However, Jobs had a chip on his shoulder “because the Microsoft machines outsold his machines.” Gates didn’t mind. He still thinks Jobs was brilliant.
Gates licensed his software to everyone and this was the opposite of Jobs’ philosophy of controlling every user. Gates said that the integrated approach worked well when Steve was at the helm. But it doesn’t mean it will win many rounds in the future.
Jobs hated Gates’ model even if it worked. He said Jobs claimed Microsoft didn’t make really great products, “it produced crappy products.”
Gates said that Jobs was “fundamentally odd” and he had a mesmerising effect on people. But he was basically “weirdly flawed as a human being”.
In his biography, Jobs said: “Bill is basically unimaginative and has never invented anything, which is why I think he’s more comfortable now in philanthropy than technology.” Jobs told his biographer that Gates just shamelessly ripped off other people’s ideas.
Jobs has moaned that Gates stole the idea of bringing a mouse-operated graphical user interface to Windows after seeing it on the original Macintosh. Of course, he didn’t invent it either, but Jobs had a tendency to forget reality if it did not fit into his marketing.
As Gates pointed out, if Jobs really believed that, “he really has entered into one of his own reality distortion fields… Steve did not know anything about technology. He was just a super salesman.”
Gates also knocked on the head rumours that he was considering a comeback to Microsoft. But he said that he had made the transition to work full-time at his Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation “and that will be what I do the rest of my life”.
“I’m part-time involved with Microsoft, including even being in touch this week to give some of my advice but that’s not going to change – the foundation requires all of my energy and we feel we’re having a great impact.”