back to article Is Bill Gates mulling a return to Microsoft throne?

Bill Gates is mulling a return to Microsoft according to a well-placed source. The mole told Fortune that the tycoon may consider clasping the reins of the company he co-founded and replacing Steve Ballmer as CEO. The remarks came from "a prominent chief executive", according to the site. Gates left Microsoft to focus on …


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  1. SiempreTuna

    No fan of Bill ..

    .. but weren't Microsoft into phones, tablets, the 'cloud', IT domination etc etc etc years - and in the case of tablets and IT domination decades - ahead of Apple ..?

    Kettle / Pot ..

    1. Doug Glass

      Yeah but ...

      ... there's a big difference between planning and execution. You have to get the good stuff off the drawing board and into the consumer's hands. Apple has been superior at putting products into user hands.

      1. HMB

        Depends if you're talking about computers or tablets.

        Microsoft are far superior to Apple when it comes to market share of desktops and laptops. When it comes to tablets & phones, Apple clearly have the lead of the two.

    2. MD Rackham

      I think they meant successful products

      In which case, phones, tablets, and the cloud from Microsoft are all straight out.

      And Apple has never made a serious effort at "IT domination" unless you count the lackluster XServe line.

      Which isn't to say that those are original ideas with Apple, just that it's success that counts, not who did it first, at least in business.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      They just didn't make them shiny enough for people to think 'ooh, that's nice'. They didn't make them with the limited features and interface that allow a 'guy off the street' to think "ooh, I want one of those". Rather, they made them like PCs- fairly dull to look at and maybe not the most reliable things on the planet, but incredibly practical, expandable and easy (and cheap) to develop for.

      You can actually take the voiceover from the new iPad advert and apply it to every version of Windows since about 1998. Which means every Microsoft tablet ever.

      Crucially, though, they didn't make them low-power enough to be small and light enough to fit into a purse. They didn't bang on about it and say 'ooh, look at our revolutionary shiny thing'.

      They were also years ahead of Apple with smartphones/PDAphones. And being able to play games. And in office productivity equipment. And in being an evil empire- though their main crime was being a Big Company during the grungy 1990s, and their main fault releasing equipment when they'd got it working, rather than when it was ready for general consumer use.

      Unfortunately, MS have in recent years (since Ballamer took over, basically) lost the long-term vision that put them ahead of both the mainstream competition and the level that technology would sensibly sit at. And dropped the Quality Control ball pretty badly with Vista. Hopefully, with a rested Gates at the helm they will once again be able to push back boundaries (admittedly, they'll probably be steamrollering it over smaller businesses... but hey, I get Apple's latest gadgets 10 years before they're made so life's good!).

    4. Gordon 10 Silver badge

      ***cough*** MS tablet domination? Bwahahahahah

  2. Anonymous Coward 15

    Is he going to start a hero-worship cult and steal a kid's liver?

  3. EddieD

    "Microsoft told us that they do not comment on rumour and speculation"

    At least they tell you something...unlike other computer companies...

  4. Anonymous Coward

    That would be an excellent decision Mr Gates

    ..considering the technological competence of Mr Chairthrower.

    Ballmer terminated the head of developer tools & servers, despite this division making some of the best products of Microsoft.

    1. Richard Plinston Silver badge

      > Ballmer terminated ...

      If he is to remain in the top post he has to remove all threats from underneath that he can. This is the only reason that Ballmer has survived, there is no viable replacement in the ranks, he has made sure of that.

      Of course these actions have hurt the company, this is the 'Peter Principle' at work, followed by entrenchment.

      The only possible threat is from above. Replacement by Gates is the only thing left.

  5. Anonymous Coward


    lets hope he does, i mean, We had windows 7 which is very good and wp7 is good too but most of Microsofts efforts have been for nothing as its marketing sucks, this is something that could easily be fixed given the correct will and guidance, there has also been a lot of FUD under Balmars reign. Gates is no saint, he might not even be a grate designer but a simple fact remains, his not and woudnt be any worse than Balmar. It doesnt matter what side of the fence you sit on, Pro or anti MS, having someone good incharge is good for us all as another simple fact remains that MS desktop OS and even its IE has market share more than any other, having good software in the hands of the many is better for us all

  6. PhilBack

    This would be interesting

    Especially if Gates focuses on education!

    1. mfritz0

      This may be a great time to buy stock in Microsoft. Yes this could get very interesting.

  7. Shane Kent

    maybe his first order of business could be...

    to let Windows die, he let DOS die and now it is time for Windows. Not to say they stop making OSs, just no more Windows and make something new. Looking at Windows 8, maybe they could

    call it Tiles instead of Windows. Drop everything that was Windows, that being USER, GDI, Explorer, CMD Console, Iexplore, Kernel, etc. and start fresh. And ship it with VM'd Windows XP tweaked for VM. Much the same as they VM'd DOS on Win9x.

    And when making this OS, I would like one that doesn't have a stupid number of files. DIR /S from within my WINDOWS 7 directory and I get over 91 thousand files and 62 thousand directories. 62 thousand directories for 91 thousand files, who makes this crap? I remember Win95 early days, a handful of directories and could do a DIR on DLLs in SYSTEM folder and manage down a list of files looking for older dated files (fixing DLL hell). Modular is great, but this is ridiculous, we got gigabytes of RAM, why do we need a bunch of killobyte and megabyte files?

    1. Tinker Tailor Soldier

      Dos VM in 9x....

      DOS was still at the bottom of Win9X, in fact there was a little Win16 kernel under the whole pile (it had a semaphore to protect . Now, virtualizing DOS in Windows NT, that they did.

    2. PaulR79

      Troll or really poorly informed?

      I would hope you're kidding and just trolling. Vista was an overhaul and look how much that pissed people off because manufacturers wanted to push new hardware rather than write new drivers for the old stuff. Sure Vista was painful but it was a necessary change and Windows 7 improved on it quite a lot. Dropping all the 'old' stuff would upset a vast amount of people and not just end users.

      You say that DOS was run in a VM on Win 9x... I just can't believe that's meant seriously. Win 9x were shells that ran on top of DOS. They didn't need it quite as much as previous versions of Windows but it was still used a lot. That was one of the big changes with Vista, moving away from DOS.

      I can't comment on the rest of your poorly informed post and what I wrote is based on what I know which may also be wrong (feel free to correct me people that know better) but it's a lot closer than what you posted to the truth!

      1. Ramazan


        Vista wasn't a move from DOS. WinNT was, with its direct descendants being Win2k, WinXP, Vista and Win7. Vista was rather a move from GDI, which remained largely unchanged since WinNT 4.0 (GDI was moved from user space to kernel between 3.51 and 4.0 to improve speed).

      2. PeterM42

        Versions of Windows

        The reason "Windows 7" is better than Vista (NT 6.0), is that it is actually a bug-fix for Vista.

        Look in Windows Explorer, Help, About - it is NT 6.1

    3. mfritz0

      Or, completely redesign Windows and bring it into the the virtual world. I would love to see a Windows come out with it's own version of Open Simulator and an actual way of moving the web into true virtual reality, like everyone ever dreamed it should be. Maybe even making the new Windows open source like Linux.

  8. JDX Gold badge

    I think it'd be fascinating, a chance to really see how good Bill is when coming from behind rather than dominating the market.

  9. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  10. All names Taken

    Seems plausible - better still if Mr Balmer invites Mr Gates back?

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    He'd be a busy boy, then ...

    Between saving Microsoft and building reactors for the Chinese.

    Can't see it happening (its an unsubstantiated rumour circulated in a very narrow sphere), but that means it'll probably will.

  12. Anonymous Coward

    Obviously, he just wants back in the cabal

    Obviously, he just wants back in the cabal...

  13. Will Godfrey Silver badge

    Dear {deity} please NO!

  14. Adam Trickett

    Could be good news for MS or not

    I can't stand BillG but it is clear that softly spoken Balmer hasn't been good for the share price and the company though still pretty much a monopoly seems to lurch from one disaster to another one. Could be time for a glorious return...!

  15. Wibble

    Dent xiao Gates?

    The image springs to mind of the ageing Chinese leader Deng Xaioping smiling and clapping to an audience of thousands. Ok, anything to see the back of Monkey Boy, but it's a truly damming enditement of Microsoft's current state that this could even be considered.

    Hobson's Choice; they've only themselves to blame.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No fan of Bill or MS

    But if I had shares in MS, I'd call this excellent news!

    I don't like the company, I don't like many of its products or the design philosophy behind them. I don't like the way they do business. But ... At least Bill was /good/ at it.

  17. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Ahead of Apple

    Yes, everybody did everything Apple did first.

    Apple secret was making it into a product that people actually wanted.

    They also have a single focus on what they want and the different parts support that ie. iPhone needs iTunes.

    In MSFT different divisions protect their turf - which is why their tablet died, because it couldn't do exchange server, their cloud offering died because it cost MS-Office sales, flight simulator died because it threatened X-box

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Given that the Windows 8 tablets are starting to look more like the Courier tablet that Bill Gates cancelled, it makes sense.

  19. Ramazan

    hey, Billy

    Maybe you were good once... But now, everybody knows you're just a washed up rocker, who can't tell a six-string from a shot glass.

  20. Stuart Duel

    Bill Gates...

    …is no Steve Jobs.

  21. Lars Silver badge

    It's not likely you will know what Gates will do!.

    "it's not likely Gates will do something just because Steve did."

  22. Ian Davies


    "Larry Page famously returned as CEOs after absences and pulled off marvellous recoveries"

    Google was in need of/has had a recovery...? Really? To put Larry Page's return in the same terms as Steve Jobs is a nonsense. What's actually changed? A bunch of going-nowhere labs experiments got taken out back and shot, and... that's about it. Is there anything else that has even registered on the radar since Page became CEO again?

    How has Google's trajectory changed in any significant way whatsoever?

  23. scarshapedstar

    You mean... die?

    "But despite Jobs' claim that Gates always copies him, it's not likely Gates will do something just because Steve did."

    1. Ramazan


      Obviously, the one who downvoted this joke either doesn't appreciate black humor or hopes to live forever (just to avoid copying Steve, probably).

  24. Nuke

    Doing what Jobs has done ?!

    "despite Jobs' claim that Gates always copies him, it's not likely Gates will do something just because Steve did"

    When I read that, for a moment I thought it meant snuffing it.

  25. Anonymous Coward

    More words of wisdom!

    I can see it now, Gates taking charge of the division and he'll give us new exciting and important insights...

    "640Gb storage should be enough for every tablet". Hmm, I wonder where I heard that one before ;-)

    1. Davidoff

      Wisdom, yeah right

      I didn't think there are still people which believe that Gates actually said something like '640k RAM is enough'. Well, he didn't, he never said something like that. It's an UL set in place for the simple minded.

  26. Arctic fox

    "a prominent chief executive"?

    That seems a rather strange formulation. Unless it is, allegedly, Ballmer gossiping about his own forthcoming defenestration it suggests that the person concerned belongs to another company than MS. Such a matter, if true, would be very hush-hush and known only to a very small inner circle, how would the senior officer of another company have heard about this? Unless of course it is the CEO of a major investor in MS who has been "sounded out" about such a move. The only thing that causes me to think that it *might* be true is that BG may have "rested" long enough to feel bored away from the "imperial throne" and such a move would, at this time, be unlikely to harm the company's share price. However, I have to say that the story smells of kite-flying by someone rather than the real deal.

  27. Gil Grissum


    Getting Balmer out of there and Gates back in as CEO is the best move for Microsoft. Balmer needs to go and now is the time to do it because he will continue to drag Microsoft down is he isn't ousted. The Board and shareholders are ready for him to go. The time has come.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Visionary, if you live in the 60s

    Bill Gates's "visionary" ideas centered (center?) mostly around handwriting-driven tablet computers and home automation. Real Jetsons-style nonsense. The guy is an out-of-touch nerd and never had his finger on the pulse of the consumer. Anybody who thinks he can come back to Microsoft and make a positive difference is delusional.

    1. Goat Jam

      It would probably give their share price a bump

      for a while but other than that, yeah, what he said.

  29. Magnus_Pym

    It would only make a differece...

    ... for the shareholders. They are getting pissed off with Balmer's lack of success. Getting Bill back at the top would temporarily help MS share values until he too failed to grow the brand.

    When MS came to dominance it when word-processing, spreadsheets and databases where the killer apps. He brought the dominant products to DOS and assimilated them into office. He saw the existing situation and gained control. MS business plan is to be behind the curve and then buy it. It is how they started and all they have ever done since.

  30. That Steve Guy

    The Dinosaur

    The thing is the world has changed Microsoft still has the same business model since Bill first set it up.

    Force your software down the world's throat by deals with OEMs, strangle the consumer with your licensing.

    Microsoft is the great dinosaur that seems stuck in the PC market it has always existed in no matter how much they try to branch into search or mobile.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    At least he's not Ballmer

    People might not like Bill Gates, but at least he has an interest in technology and IT, I have never had that feeling from Ballmer, he comes across as a mediocre businessman.

    Like him or not Bill Gates did drive Microsoft to produce products that compete, even if they don't have the usability and sleek design of Apple products, and he does take action eventually to correct mistakes when he realises he has made them.

    From what I have read and the interviews I have seen I am not keen on him as a person but he would have the drive and business sense Ballmer seems to lack and as such would be the better choice to run Microsoft.

  32. PeterM42

    Come Back Bill........

    ......All is forgiven.

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