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He's Lost His Appeal

Week of June 14, 2000

'Sure, some year we will blow it. Companies don't last forever.'
 - Bill Gates

For all of Billg's chances, it doesn't really matter anymore. He's already lost his appeal.

Word has it Billg might still have a trump card up his sleeve. TP was trying to push things to the Supreme Court but Billg got a full panel of judges to hear his side of things. It doesn't really matter. Win or lose, Billg is out of it.

He knew this years ago when he wrote his first book. He said so in so many words. What none of us knew back then was how much hypocrisy was in that tome. The man who humbly expressed a desire to be in on the new age of computing was using every dirty trick in the book to stop that new age from ever happening.

But now the dirt is out and in the open. Press photos of Billg making him look like an unpolished führer in the Bavarian beer halls of the 1930's are no accident - the press has had it with him too. Call it the Tall Poppy Syndrome, call it just a bad taste in the mouth, call it anything you like - Billg has lost his appeal. The word is out - Brad Silverberg, Allchin - these adolescent bunglers, Forbes top ten billionaires or not - are about as appealing as John Erlichman and Richard M. Nixon.

We're not losing anything by seeing the end of the Microsoft era anyway. Microsoft didn't even start it - IBM did. If IBM hadn't got Tim Paterson's operating system through Billg, they would have found something else somewhere else. It was the IBM name, the single rose in the clear crystal vase, the Charlie Chaplin figure, and the eclectic nature of the game - Snow White allying with the hackers of the world - that convinced corporations like Merrill Lynch to buy hordes of the machines within weeks of its release.

Microsoft's freedom to innovate is about as valid as McDonald's. Ray didn't invent the hamburger, and all Billg has done is moronize otherwise significant technology and dump it on the BDUs like so many Quarter Pounder Cheese's. He cannot be and will never be credited with any ground breaking technology: his whole corporate mentality is geared against it. It's geared against thought itself.

Back in the early 90's NT was the only viable operating system on the PC. OS/2, that hotbed of creativity, just didn't have the user base potential to make it a winner. NT did. But NT crept into the UNIX market, not the Windows market. And Linux had not yet been born on the world.

But since then several things have happened. The net happened - significant enough to get Billg to run from Redmond right before the release of Chicago and write a book. Dave Cutler kicked his last hole in a Redmond wall, finally had it with Billg, and stepped out with his dream team, leaving only the hopeless GUI gang Dave so despised. And Linus' operating system finally started to spread.

There is no question: the OS of choice today is Linux. It's as simple as that. radsoft.net has a (great) number of UNIX-like tools for the PC, in particular for NT, but consensus is solid. Linux is a step back into yesteryear, when UNIX was simple as it should be. Linux represents the best of the world of UNIX, and offers possibilities NT will never offer.

The Halloween Documents are incontrovertible proof supplied by Redmond itself that Linux is by definition far more stable and reliable than anything Microsoft will ever be able to come up with. For all their billions and stock options, they cannot compete with the user and beta tester base of Linux and they know it. When their plumbers start scheming to destroy Linus personally to defend their position in the market, you know they're desperate, you know they know they've been beat.

It doesn't really matter what happens with TP's ruling anymore. Win or lose, the battle is already behind us. Yes, we still need a good net browser. IE is definitely no good, NC isn't looking too good, Moz is a shambles, NC6 is just as bad or worse - we should have a number of good browsers and have none. Lucent has pulled back Mothra to make matters worse.

But browsers are a small part of the whole. BDUs will either learn to use sophisticated tools or fade away. People who heard about the net, walked into their nearest hypermart, pulled junk down off the shelves, came home and quickly learned that Ctrl+Alt+Delete was the most important command at their disposal will see something else. A Linux convert rarely goes back, and the reason is obvious: no leaks, no crashes, no forced re-boots, no install headaches, no Microsoft misery anywhere, and no more monster bloatware applications either. It's an entirely new ball game, and the world - yes even the BDUs - are ready for it.

BDUs are a lost generation anyway. People who have computer phobia don't get born much anymore. Kids of 13 often have more savvy than professors of 63. They've grown up with it. We once had a TV generation which older generations could simply not relate to; now we have a comp. sci. generation, and the gap is there again.

A teenager growing up with a computer is going to have much more fun playing with a Linux box. Playing with a Microsoft box is boring. And the earlier you change, the more decisive the road you take later. Once upon a time Steve Jobs got his computers into business by first sponsoring them for colleges and universities. Newcomers now will grow up tinkering with Linux boxes and won't give two hoots what fossils like Billg and Steve Jobs do.

Billg is gone. He was the richest person in the world, but he isn't even that anymore - he's been passed by. The new king of the billionaire hill runs his software on guess what platform.

Almost all the big guns have left Billg's ship, been either fired or were just plain tired of Billg's antics and the losing path he's on. The captain is still on board, waving his hands in a frantic effort to unite his dying Titanic, but the core crew is gone, the minions are panicking, and the rats are scurrying for the nearest exit.

He's lost his appeal.

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