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Microsoft Government The Courts News

A Real Bill Gates Rant 293

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the well-that's-not-so-bad dept.
lou ibmix XI submitted an email written by Bill Gates a few years ago and turned over to the feds as part of the government's antitrust case. Great quotes like 'Someone decided to trash the one part of Windows that was usable?' and 'The lack of attention to usability represented by these experiences blows my mind.' We like to think of him as an abstract, but I think this is interesting stuff. Also, this might seem familiar. Oops.
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A Real Bill Gates Rant

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  • Massive Dupe (Score:5, Informative)

    by Thelasko (1196535) on Monday February 23, 2009 @10:10AM (#26956851) Journal
    • Re:Massive Dupe (Score:5, Insightful)

      by wisty (1335733) on Monday February 23, 2009 @10:14AM (#26956889)

      It's been 6 years, and he still can't install it? Maybe he should install Wubi, and try apt-get, that usually works.

    • by Sockatume (732728) on Monday February 23, 2009 @10:23AM (#26956985)
      No, no, this is deliberate. After posting a story which wasn't really news for nerds, they decided to post a story which is for nerds, but isn't actually news. They're giving up errors for lent and are trying to get them all out of their system first.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by cayenne8 (626475)
        "They're giving up errors for lent and are trying to get them all out of their system first."

        Hmm...well, this year for lent, I'm either going to stop giving up things...

        Or...I'm going to quit not drinking.

        Will worry about that later, tomorrow is Fat Tuesday, and NOLA is a wonderful place to live this time of year!! I feel so sorry for all my friends around the country, that not only will they not have a cold drink in their hand by 6am...but, will be actually going to work?!?!

        Hmm, now, what to drink for

    • by Valtor (34080) on Monday February 23, 2009 @10:42AM (#26957227) Homepage

      I know it's a dupe, but I still love to see Gates say: "But that is just the start of the crap..."

      It says it all right there. At least Microsoft knows about the problems with Windows. It is said that realizing there is an issue is the first step to resolving it :)

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by badasscat (563442)

        I know it's a dupe, but I still love to see Gates say: "But that is just the start of the crap..."

        It says it all right there. At least Microsoft knows about the problems with Windows. It is said that realizing there is an issue is the first step to resolving it :)

        I don't think Bill Gates is really responsible for the problems with Windows. In fact, I think it's probably one reason why he left when he did. The company just got too big for him to manage day-to-day - he wasn't the one making relatively minor decisions like where Windows Movie Maker sits on the Microsoft web site or how to install it, somebody else was making those decisions. And little decisions like that, all added up together, are 95% of what makes Windows as maddening to use as it is. And he was

      • by Mister Whirly (964219) on Monday February 23, 2009 @02:07PM (#26959629) Homepage
        Bill Gates didn't get to where he is today by being ignorant and in the dark about Windows.

        Bill Gates realizing and complaining about something that could work better in Windows isn't a huge "discovery". It is his job.
      • by fastest fascist (1086001) on Monday February 23, 2009 @03:20PM (#26960541)

        It is said that realizing there is an issue is the first step to resolving it :)

        It is also the first step to ignoring it.

  • I don't get it (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Spazztastic (814296) <spazztastic@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Monday February 23, 2009 @10:13AM (#26956875)

    I don't understand all the hate for Bill. Unless if this e-mail was nothing more than a publicity stunt to make him look less evil, it shows that he wasn't happy with the way things were going. He clearly saw the direction the ship was going and he couldn't turn it in time.

    Despite what you say about Microsoft now, Ballmer will always be funny to read about and watch on youtube.

    • by QCompson (675963) on Monday February 23, 2009 @10:15AM (#26956907)

      I don't understand all the hate for Bill.

      Stay off my lawn.

    • Re:I don't get it (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Vellmont (569020) on Monday February 23, 2009 @10:33AM (#26957101)


      I don't understand all the hate for Bill.

      Bill's the guy that's responsible for creating this monster. Obviously he didn't do it all by himself, but he's ultimately the captain of the ship.

      He clearly saw the direction the ship was going and he couldn't turn it in time.

      I actually don't really hate Bill (though I understand why some do). Even though I saw this email about a year ago I'm still greatly amused by it. It shows that even Bill Gates can't control the monster he's created. It's very interesting and amusing that Bill Gates, largest owner of Microsoft and (then) the person with the greatest control over it, reboots his computer nightly. That explains so much.

      • Re:I don't get it (Score:5, Insightful)

        by smallfries (601545) on Monday February 23, 2009 @10:51AM (#26957323) Homepage

        It's the law of unintended consequences. The vision at Microsoft has always been to try and reduce complexity. Whenever there has been a tradeoff between control and simplicity, Microsoft has chosen simplicity. Unfortunately some things are inherently complex, and as you try to wrap them behind simplistic abstractions there comes a point where you simply can achieve what you want. Suddenly you, and your current task is one of the things that the designers abstracted away. The quote about "we didn't realise people would try and download it from the downloads page" is a classic example.

        Which of course was exactly the point that Neal Stephenson made in the essay In the beginning was the command line [cryptonomicon.com].

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by postbigbang (761081)

          >>The vision at Microsoft has always been to try and reduce complexity.

          If this was true, then what's more onerous is that they failed, and did so in repeated, dramatically awful ways. The competing divisions, the lack of inter-disciplinary leadership, confused market views, the lie of 'customer-focused' decision making are all what were embodied in Microsoft's decided failure. Add in the mix of tawdry business practices, lack of belief in criticism, and an insular greed-based nature, and it's not a wo

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by maxume (22995)

            Counting their failure, they are still, by many measures, the most successful software company on the planet.

            For instance, more desktop users have complained about how bad Vista is than have used Linux.

        • by aero6dof (415422) <aero6dof@yahoo.com> on Monday February 23, 2009 @11:25AM (#26957669) Homepage

          The vision at Microsoft has always been to try and reduce complexity.

          Surely you jest.

        • Re:I don't get it (Score:5, Insightful)

          by porkchop_d_clown (39923) <mwheinzNO@SPAMme.com> on Monday February 23, 2009 @11:27AM (#26957691) Homepage

          > It's the law of unintended consequences. The vision at Microsoft has always been to try and reduce complexity. Whenever there has been a tradeoff between control and simplicity.

          Have you ever actually compared Windows to MacOS? Microsoft most definitely did NOT choose simplicity, rather they have always chosen flexibility - the ability to configure and reconfigure the system to run on different hardware and to do different things.

        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by chdig (1050302)

          Unfortunately some things are inherently complex, and as you try to wrap them behind simplistic abstractions...

          Does anyone else see the irony in a poster reducing a company like Microsoft's approach to one of "simplicity", while he himself reduces the complex discussion down to a "simplistic abstraction"?

          --
          even worse, he's dead wrong.
          Rather, the poster porkchop's argument that Microsoft chose flexibility is bang on.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by UnknowingFool (672806)
          Microsoft's modus operandi has been more features = more sales. You see this in why Vista had so many issues with the new driver model. For years they neglected to work on security and stability over features. When it became obvious that XP was/is a major target of malware, then they worked on it. But by that time years of bad programming practices by MS and 3rd parties led to many drivers breaking in Vista.
        • by Hao Wu (652581)
          "KISS" has worked pretty good for Hotmail, supposedly. Just not for Windows.
        • by AliasMarlowe (1042386) on Monday February 23, 2009 @04:35PM (#26961457) Journal

          The vision at Microsoft has always been to try and reduce complexity.

          Alas, their hallucination has morphed into a very bad trip indeed.

          The quote about "we didn't realise people would try and download it from the downloads page" is a classic example.

          Who the hell mixed PCP into their acid?

      • Re:I don't get it (Score:5, Interesting)

        by zappepcs (820751) on Monday February 23, 2009 @10:59AM (#26957413) Journal

        I'm keeping a copy of this and some other beauties. Anytime anyone wants to know why I think they should switch to Linux of OSX, I just show them the emails. Even Bill G is tired of Windows and how it works, why shouldn't joe the pc user be?

      • by digitig (1056110)

        It's very interesting and amusing that Bill Gates, largest owner of Microsoft and (then) the person with the greatest control over it, reboots his computer nightly. That explains so much.

        I turn my computer off when I go home in the evening, too. What's so amusing about that?

      • by msormune (808119)
        What does it explain? That he does not leave his desktop machine humming away in the night, but turns it off? Like the rest of the world does also (well, except for leachers), including all the Linux desktop machines owners. Yeah, that totally proves Windows sucks.
    • Re:I don't get it (Score:5, Insightful)

      by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Monday February 23, 2009 @10:36AM (#26957133) Homepage Journal

      I don't understand all the hate for Bill.

      You may hand in your geek card at the door.

      If BillG's actions as the head of Microsoft we're enough for you, then surely his new mission of spreading IP law across the third world should get your attention? The Gates foundation makes for-profit investments that are killing people they claim to be trying to save [latimes.com]. Bill is personally heavily invested in big pharma [theregister.co.uk] and Gates supports strong IP law [newmediaexplorer.org] in order to protect his profits.

    • Re:I don't get it (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Locutus (9039) on Monday February 23, 2009 @10:56AM (#26957377)

      Bill Gates is the one who, with Steve Balmer, created a Microsoft where it is more important to win by leveraging Windows than competing on quality. He's also overseen them target one software technology after another which were cross platform and therefore threats and had to be eliminated.

      What was once a tiny software company who made a Basic interpreter became a monster threatening anyone and everyone if they did not do things One Microsoft Way. This is Bill Gates' fault as much as it is Steve Balmer. Just look at the Bill and Malinda Gates Foundation for more proof. From what I've heard, if any school or library takes funds from them, they are not allowed to use open source software. They just constantly limit choice and that has been Microsoft's business method for over 20 years. IMO

      LoB

    • I don't understand all the hate for Bill.

      In my view he is the responsible for some of the unethical beaviour of Microsoft. I'm thinking of the famous 'if DRDos then crash' in Windows 95, among others.

      Markus

    • its easy (Score:5, Informative)

      by diegocgteleline.es (653730) on Monday February 23, 2009 @11:26AM (#26957675)

      In some of those published emails, you can see Bill Gates:

      -Asking to add Windows-specific quirks to the ACPI "standard" [slated.org], just to make Linux more dificult. "It seems unfortunate if we do this work and get our partners to do the work and the result is that Linux works great without having to do the work [...] Maybe there is no way to avoid this problem but it does bother me. Maybe we could define the APIs so that they work well with NT and not the others even if they are open. Or maybe we could patent something related to this

      -Asking their teams to add IE-specific crap in the HTML code generated by Office [slated.org], just to make harder for other browsers to display things: One thing we have got to change in our strategy - allowing Office documents to be rendered well by others people browser is one of the most destructive things we could do to the company. We have to stop putting any effort into this and make sure that Office documents very well depends on PROPIETARY IE capabilities" (emphasis by gates, not mine)

      -Lobbying Intel to get them to do all their design work in Windows desktops, not in Linux.

      -A lot of other "fun" stuff.

      And you wonder why people hates Gates? ;)

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      What cave are you living in??? How about Microsoft Asks For a Refund From Laid-Off Workers [slashdot.org]? That's just EVIL.

      I don't hate Gates, but I sure as hell don't like Microsoft. How can anyone who'se ever used IE or written a web site NOT dislike Bill Gates?

      • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

        by Skim123 (3322)

        What cave are you living in??? How about Microsoft Asks For a Refund From Laid-Off Workers [slashdot.org]? That's just EVIL.

        How is that evil, let alone EVIL? To err is human. If a company or individual or bank or governmental body makes a mistake and overpays a person or company or bank or government body, the entity that was overpaid has a moral and legal responsibility to paying back the overage.

  • Abstract (Score:4, Insightful)

    by msuarezalvarez (667058) on Monday February 23, 2009 @10:13AM (#26956877)
    We like to think of him as an abstract? Huh?
    • Like Big Brother. We tend to know little of his personal actions and convictions; we think of him primarily as "the head of Microsoft". In a way, he's synonymous with the company, so it's strange to see him doing something so personal as complaining about a product he downloaded (although as he says, it's part of his job).

      That's what I got out of it anyway.

    • Re:Abstract (Score:5, Funny)

      by eln (21727) on Monday February 23, 2009 @11:25AM (#26957667) Homepage

      You know, composed of a lot of straight lines and sharp angles, both eyes on the same side of his head, lots of colors everywhere, that sort of thing.

    • by icepick72 (834363)
      I think more like a mime, or maybe that's just some weird fantasy of mine.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Skim123 (3322)

      From Microsoft's website:

      The abstract modifier indicates that the thing being modified has a missing or incomplete implementation. The abstract modifier can be used with classes, methods, properties, indexers, and events. Use the abstract modifier in a class declaration to indicate that a class is intended only to be a base class of other classes. Members marked as abstract, or included in an abstract class, must be implemented by classes that derive from the abstract class.
      http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us [microsoft.com]

  • by Dolohov (114209) on Monday February 23, 2009 @10:14AM (#26956901)

    "'This is a shocking e-mail. Shocking!' And I said, 'What do you think I do all day? Sending an e-mail like that, that is my job. That's what it's all about. We're here to make things better.""

    Apparently he either really sucked at his job, or it was the job of the people who worked for him to completely ignore what he said.

  • by Dekortage (697532) on Monday February 23, 2009 @10:24AM (#26956991) Homepage

    FTA: "In fact it is more like a puzzle that you get to solve. It told me to go to Windows Update and do a bunch of incantations."

    Finally, someone at Microsoft admits that you have to use magic to make Windows work right... I would comment more, but I am on my way to my daily Ballmer goat and bull sacrifice.

  • I know how to make site and downloads more responsive. Just use Apache on Linux. ..... You're Welcome.

  • by Red4man (1347635) on Monday February 23, 2009 @10:28AM (#26957041) Journal
    "Hey Bill, can you help me program my Zune? Ha ha ha, I'm kiiding, I have an iPod like the rest of the planet."
  • Bill Gates has become a Luser - one that requires the application of a LART.

    So it's not just us that think their shit is whack... like printing a test page for a printer...
    why after all these fucking years is it not a right-click context option for printers or at the very least in the left hand side of the 'Printers' folder 'Info' section. And let's not talk about the mouse focus that KDE has had for years now...

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by socsoc (1116769)
      how many test pages do you print?
      • I was about to say the same thing, and don't have mod points today. A test page isn't something used frequently enough to have a context menu item for. How broken are your print drivers? I haven't printed a test page since the day I set my laserjet up 3 years ago.

  • by Mr Z (6791)

    It's rather cool that Bill himself sent such rants internally. I know I've sent rants and/or filed numerous bugs on our own products at work from the standpoint of usability and usefulness.

    I'm not the greatest at designing a UI, but I can certainly highlight what doesn't work. What's least likely to work is stuff that crosses organizational boundaries, and it looks like Bill's experience here is one of those: The integration just isn't there.

    I'm not a big fan of Microsoft or its tactics over the years, b

    • by fwarren (579763)

      How can you admire him?

      Northing changed.

      Is it really that broke? If they are trying to maintain a monopoly, yes it is. They have to maintain lock in at all costs. Any broad range fix to usability is likely to damage lock-in. If there goal is to make simpler and better working products. Then no, it is not so badly broke that it can be fixed

      The fast that nothing has changed is illuminating of what kind of company Microsoft currently is.

      • by Mr Z (6791)

        I admire, or at least complement this aspect of him. I'm no fan of Microsoft as a whole nor am I an adoring fan of Bill, but Microsoft is not Bill Gates.

  • by stewbacca (1033764) on Monday February 23, 2009 @10:38AM (#26957161)
    Maybe had Bill been more hands-on in a Steve Jobs sort of way, the focus might have been more on usability and less on feature-lists. Bill gets what he gets. It's his fault that usability sucks, because he didn't cut into the bottom-line to make it better. It's also Bill's "fault" that Windows enjoyed a 95% market share for a decade.
    • by cabjf (710106)

      It's also Bill's "fault" that Windows enjoyed a 95% market share for a decade.

      That's more IBM's fault than anyone else. Bill just happened to be in the right place at the right time (like not out flying an airplane when they called).

    • Ironic (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Sockatume (732728)
      So, we have a story which implies Windows would be better if its architects used it more often and were therefore aware of its crappiness. And it's being duped, because Slashdot's editors don't read Slashdot often enough to notice they're reposting a really popular story. There's a lesson there somewhere.
    • by Hasai (131313)

      It's also Bill's "fault" that Windows enjoyed a 95% market share for a decade.

      I must disagree. It was not Bill who made a shoddily written excuse for an OS the dominant player in the market, but rather the boggling level of ignorance on the part of the overwhelming majority of said market as to what an acceptable OS should be, and Microsoft's exploitation of that fact.

      There has always been a grim joke among IT personnel that while the sales personnel from IBM, Novell, Sun, etc., are talking to the IT manager, the Microsoft salesman is playing a round of golf with the CEO. A grim jok

  • NEW! (Score:3, Funny)

    by Cornwallis (1188489) * on Monday February 23, 2009 @10:42AM (#26957229)
    I've got a news item about Craig Shergold. Really, it's news. Can I post it here?
  • by bogaboga (793279) on Monday February 23, 2009 @10:43AM (#26957239)

    Now let's turn the conversation the other way...to KDE and GNOME. Bill Gates here, is just being a typical newbie if he is anyway. No offence to him here. But if he were to send such a "rant" to the GNOME folks, you all know what kind of answers he'd get.

    This is not to say the KDE folks get it either. But for Linux to succeed even in the minutest way, it must meet Joe Public's expectations...and this can be done while at the same time meeting expectations of whoever it is at present.

    I guess I will be labelled a troll but what I am saying is the truth...so go right ahead and mod me down.

    • But for Linux to succeed even in the minutest way, it must meet Joe Public's expectations

      Why? It's a tool. The majority of "Joe Public" don't have specialized tools to work on bikes/cars/woodworking/electrical/floors/whatever. Does that mean that professional tools for those tasks should be re-designed for those "joe publics" to use without skill?

      I don't want my tools to be n00bified, they work great as they are, and appreciate them going in a direction that doesn't ape a broken paradigm. Thanks.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Draek (916851)

      But for Linux to succeed even in the minutest way, it must meet Joe Public's expectations...and this can be done while at the same time meeting expectations of whoever it is at present.

      Define "success", then prove meeting "Joe Public"'s expectations is a requirement for such, and *then* prove that meeting them can be done doing only changes that don't alienate any of the current users. Good luck with that, you're gonna need it.

      As it stands, your post is just unsubstantiated opinion, off-topic as it pertains to Linux instead of Windows, and very likely a troll since you're using a CEO's letter to his employees to imply that the Gnome and KDE developers react badly to any criticism from 'ne

  • by Kazymyr (190114)

    So they told me that using the download page to download something was not something they anticipated.

    Classic.

  • I'm pretty sure I read this e-mail on Slashdot already.

  • I find it interesting to look back at the trouble that even the great architect Bill Gates as with his own child. Submitting this as evidence for the prosecution in an antitrust case might prove to be a problem. Submitting this as evidence for the defense, however, might be a great step toward acquittal. Why? Ever hear the saying "never attribute malice to that which can be explained by stupidity" or something like that? That's all a jury needs to hear to realize that Microsoft is not a singular conspi

  • by Ancient_Hacker (751168) on Monday February 23, 2009 @11:05AM (#26957471)

    It's funny that he praises the add/remove programs control panel. Try opening it up when you have a file system mounted that contains a whole lot of files. Apparently this control panel, even though it has a cache of installed programs in some subdirectory, plus roughly the same info in a registry subtree, this sterling piece of software goes off and looks at every file on every device. That's the only explanation I can think of why the disks whir for like two hours before this control panel lists anything.

    And even then all that work was for naught, because the items listed have not been even slightly vetted for correctness. You click on some of them and get an immediate "no uninstaller found" or even more cryptic messages, and no way to remove these useless entries. This control panel is a classic fail, with it doing slow and useless work several times over and still missing the whole point of what it should be doing.

    Bill, you got real problems when you think this really crapalicious control panel is a shining star.

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      It's funny that he praises the add/remove programs control panel. Try opening it up when you have a file system mounted that contains a whole lot of files. Apparently this control panel, even though it has a cache of installed programs in some subdirectory, plus roughly the same info in a registry subtree, this sterling piece of software goes off and looks at every file on every device. That's the only explanation I can think of why the disks whir for like two hours before this control panel lists anything.

      Defragment your Registry [microsoft.com]. It's always going to be slow but I almost guarantee you that this is part of your problem. If you use that particular control panel much then I bet your registry is fragmented like crazy. The registry is the biggest problem with Windows, it is horribly inefficient. Why Microsoft hasn't replaced* it with some more capable database engine by now I have no idea.

      * By replaced I really mean augmented. Boot on the file-based registry, then once you get MSDE or whatever started replicate

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        It has nothing to do with a fragmented Registry. My Registry is not fragmented and the time goes from two hours to 20 seconds when I unmount the disk with all the files.

        And the installed programs list in the registry is only 15 entries, that should not take two hours to load.

        It's just poor design. You should never have to scan the universe when you already have the info in at least two places, the Registry and the installer directory. And of course it's a bad idea to have the info in two places.

    • by Dunbal (464142)

      This control panel is a classic fail,

      This operating system is a classic fail

      fix'd

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Spatial (1235392)
      Yup, it's a piece of shit. I use this Nirsoft tool [nirsoft.net] instead, which shows more information and allows you to remove and change the entries.
  • ... on the linked site are pretty funny. I particularly liked

    ...A positive note for the US: China and Russia are even more hobbled by Microsoft-created productivity losses. I'd suspect a CIA plot if they weren't as screwed up as Microsoft.
  • joe@joe ~ $ sudo emerge kino
  • I have more respect for the man now. And that was perfect for Monday. I have not laughed that hard in a while.
  • I've seen this email before and both times I considered Bill Gates to be doing the right thing. If he thinks something sucks why shouldn't he say so?
  • I don't understand why a dupe would be posted while being fully aware that it is, in fact, a dupe. Even after stating so in the summary.
  • I can't imagine Ballmer sending an email like that, or even caring enough to directly test usability. Ballmer has a salesman mentality, he doens't care about the product itself, just the amount of sales. He probably can't even see any connection between usability and sales.

    I dont think its any coincidence that the usability of Microsoft products, whic hwas never good, is noticably worse since Gate's departure. Vista is waay worse than XP for usability, and that from early accounts Windows 7 is even worse ag

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