back to article Bill Gates says he'd do CTRL-ALT-DEL with one key if given the chance to go back through time

Bill Gates has said that if he could decide again, he would not have chosen CTRL-ALT-DEL as the keypress to interrupt a PC's operations. Speaking at the Bloomberg Global Business Forum, as recorded from about the 8:30 mark in this video, Gates looked a bit amused when Carlyle Group co-founder and CEO David Rubenstein asked …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Better CTRL-ALT-DEL than ALT-RIGHT for a reboot.

    1. MyffyW Silver badge

      CTRL-ALT-DEL the last few years please. Something has gone horribly wrong.

      1. NetworkNightmare

        O la la!

        CTRL-SHIFT-ESC will take you directly to task manager now, bypassing the full screen options.

        1. Lennart Sorensen

          Re: O la la!

          And amazingly control-shift-esc did the same thing 20 years ago too.

          1. Roland6 Silver badge
            Headmaster

            Re: O la la!

            > 20 years ago?

            Can't find a reference to CTRL+Shift+Esc that predates XP... :)

            1. DuchessofDukeStreet

              Re: O la la!

              That may well be the most useful thing I've learnt today - and one handed too :-)

            2. CliveS
              Happy

              Re: O la la!

              >> 20 years ago?

              > Can't find a reference to CTRL+Shift+Esc that predates XP... :)

              Windows NT 4.0 introduced that feature so 21 years ago.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: O la la!

                Amstrad CPC 464 in 1984 used Ctrl + Shift + Escape as a reboot option.

    2. JulieM Bronze badge

      Alt-right is for a jackboot, not a reboot.

    3. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge

      @AC

      Alt-right or Alt-left?

      One of the problems we have is the interjection of politics where its not needed.

      We definitely need a reboot.

      1. Stevie Silver badge

        Re: @AC

        No such thing as Alt-left. OPOTUS invented them to make the Alt-right sound Fair and Balanced.

        8o)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: @AC

          It's the CTRL-LEFT, because the left loves to control everything and everyone.

          1. Tom 7 Silver badge

            Re: @AC

            Those the ones trying to take BCKSPC-CTRL?

  2. Tim99 Silver badge
    Windows

    Bill Rewriting History again

    Bill seems to have forgotten that he was running a tiny company. IBM were still in the IBM and the seven dwarfs -> BUNCH era. Microsoft did not, and would not, have the resources to direct technology for several years.

    1. wallaby

      Re: Bill Rewriting History again

      Hardly,

      he was asked a stupid question by a journo, he answered

      at no point did he say He \ MS were responsible

      if he had been asked what his favourite film was would you be saying he was taking credit for making it.

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: Bill Rewriting History again

        Ctrl-Alt-Del is detected by the BIOS and generates an interrupt. That's IBM's fault.

        It was billg's decision about what to do with that interrupt, if anything, so he is responsible for that. In DOS he chose a reboot. In Win9x he chose a task manager. In WinNT-based Windows he chose to use it to progress through the log-on screen and go to the lock/log off/change password/start task manager screen once logged in.

        1. Nugry Horace

          Re: Bill Rewriting History again

          Bill didn't choose a reboot in DOS -- that's done by the BIOS, too. The source is online, it's quite easy to check. Google "TEST FOR RESET KEY SEQUENCE".

          1. bigphil9009

            Re: Bill Rewriting History again

            Err, I did just that, and no results on the first page even go so far as mentioning anything about BIOS-level resets. I didn't go past the first page of results because come on, who ever does that? ;-)

            1. Nugry Horace

              Re: Bill Rewriting History again

              Did you put the search string in quotes? Second result for me is page 199 of the IBM XT technical reference, listing that section of the XT BIOS.

              1. Simon Harris Silver badge

                Re: Bill Rewriting History again: XT Reference manual

                "K28: ... K28A: ... K29: ... K30 ..."

                Not the most memorable assembly code label names!

                I'd forgotten the MOV RESET_FLAG, $1234 trick to prevent all the POST and initialisation when forcing a reboot.

          2. Dan 55 Silver badge

            Re: Bill Rewriting History again

            Oh, so it is.

            Real mode, eh? Jumpers for goalposts.

            http://www.os2museum.com/wp/ctrl-alt-del-myths/

        2. Wade Burchette

          Re: Bill Rewriting History again

          "It was billg's decision about what to do with that interrupt, if anything, so he is responsible for that."

          If I remember correctly, there was some malware that looked exactly like the Windows logon screen. It's purpose was to steal your logon credentials. But it was simple. Pressing CTRL+ALT+DELETE would reboot the computer. So Bill and Microsoft decided that to log on to Windows NT, you would have to press those three buttons. If there was that password stealing malware, the computer would reboot. If it was legitimate Windows, it would intercept the call and allow you to log on.

          1. Suricou Raven

            Re: Bill Rewriting History again

            It's called a Trojan login, and it's got a long history. I once wrote one back when I was in school - it looked exactly like the Netware login screen, written in quickbasic. It sufficed to fool our IT head/network manager. Requiring ctrl-alt-del as a preventative measure is effective - the only way to change what those keys do is by altering the interrupt vector list. That can't be done without administrator access, and even then it's tricky because you need to do kernel-level stuff. Your malware would need to be a device driver.

  3. Mark Scorah
  4. thames
    FAIL

    Microsoft is famous for flaky software which needed a frequent three finger salute to reboot it, so Gates' preferred solution would be to add a special key to make the frequent reboots easier. Somehow I think this tells us all we need to know about how Microsoft got their reputation for lack of quality.

    1. wallaby

      "Somehow I think this tells us all we need to know about how Microsoft got their reputation for lack of quality."

      tells us more about the Microsoft haters who will pick up on any pathetic attempt to have a dig

      sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo boring !!!!!!!

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        tells us more about the Microsoft haters who will pick up on any pathetic attempt to have a dig"

        He has a point though. Why have a single key-press on the keyboard where an accidental press results in a complete system reboot? It really did need to be at least two separate keys far enough apart so as to require both hands to activate. I'm sure we all have experience of desktops, or worse, servers, with badly placed hardware reset buttons that have been inadvertently pressed with knees or other objects.

    2. Bronek Kozicki Silver badge

      I think every developer worth his/hers salt wrote some truly awful software in their young age. Bill Gates was unlucky to have that software used by virtually everyone, for a very long time. If people all around the world started using code I've written 25 years ago I would probably die of embarrassment.

      1. Tim99 Silver badge
        Windows

        ...wrote some truly awful software...

        You do know that Bill did not write it? Wikipedia.

        1. Jim 59

          Re: ...wrote some truly awful software...

          Micrisoft wrote the BASIC interpreter for the Dragon 32, as confirmed in the wake-up message. I enjoyed it, thanks Bill.

      2. d3vy Silver badge

        If people used code I'd written 25minutes ago I'd die of embarrassment..

        I think code has a shelf life of around 5 minutes, during that time it's all nice and clear and concise... 6 minutes and beyond and it's just another pile of bugs that you don't recognise as your own!

    3. Steve Channell
      FAIL

      the RESET key was an Apple idea!

      Back then the authors of flaky software were the end-users typing programs into the BIOS BASIC interpreter.. the "operating system" was optional.

      Microsoft wanted a reset key on the box like an Apple II (the leading micro at the time), but IBM refused because: [1] the reset button on the Apple was often knocked by accident. [2] IBM terminals didn't have a RESET key.

      ctl-alt-dev for Windows NT was the mistake, and used to suggest that NT didn't need a RESET key because it could never hang

      1. Peter2 Silver badge

        Re: the RESET key was an Apple idea!

        I think every developer worth his/hers salt wrote some truly awful software in their young age. Bill Gates was unlucky to have that software used by virtually everyone, for a very long time.

        I feel obliged to mention that the software in question may have been truly awful by later and even contemporary standards, but was still used because it was less awful than the opposition's software at the time. (Until Microsoft became a monopoly, and then had to basically give away their software to prevent other people from making a business selling less crap software)

      2. Pedigree-Pete Bronze badge
        Coffee/keyboard

        Re: the RESET key was an Apple idea!

        I regularly accidentally hit keys that do weird stuff like put browsers into full screen and launch an HTML editor of the page I'm looking at. You'd have to be pretty thick to accidentally hit CTRL-ALT-Del.

        I can't find a keyboard old enough but I'm pretty sure there was a Sys Req or Break key on keyboards of old. PP

        1. gotes

          Re: the RESET key was an Apple idea!

          Keyboards still have SysRq and Pause/Break keys.

        2. 9Rune5

          Re: the RESET key was an Apple idea!

          I think the SysReq key came with the IBM AT, if not PS/2...

          Break was always there. Ctrl+break saw plenty of usage in GW-BASIC.

        3. d3vy Silver badge

          Re: the RESET key was an Apple idea!

          "You'd have to be pretty thick to accidentally hit CTRL-ALT-Del."

          Place I used to work ordered a load of keyboards with a power btn where the delete key would be on a normal keyboard...

          Hillarity ensued.

        4. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: the RESET key was an Apple idea!

          "I regularly accidentally hit keys that do weird stuff like put browsers into full screen and launch an HTML editor of the page I'm looking at."

          I remember a few occasions on mashing a keyboard either accidentally or deliberately and ending up with it in a sort of inverted shift mode, ie normal typing was as if the shift key was pressed while pressing the shift key gave "normal" operation. I never did find out they key combo that caused it or reversed it, or even if it was a keyboard function, BIOS function or an OS function.

      3. Dr. Ellen

        Re: the RESET key was an Apple idea!

        If my computer reboots, I want it to happen on purpose. CTRL-ALT-DEL is something that does not happen by accident. Single keys happen all too often.

      4. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: the RESET key was an Apple idea!

        I'm glad 'reboot' isn't a single key. Imagine having your fingers on the wrong keys after moving back/forth to and from the mouse all day, you land your fingers just wrong, start to type, and *BOOT*

        Making it "non-accidental" is actually a very very good idea.

    4. Lennart Sorensen

      No he meant the keys to hit to get the login prompt in Windows NT. Not to reboot the machine. It happened to do that when running DOS because that is what the BIOS did with that interrupt. Windows NT and newer does something else with the interrupt.

  5. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

    Give B-G a single finger

    The middle one naturally.

    {for all the grief you and the company you founded has given the world which shows no sign of abating}

  6. Dan 55 Silver badge

    BREAK

    You needed to hold down Shift too, so that was a two-fingered salute.

    One key would have been too easy to press and Bill claims modern machines have that as a more obvious function - which machine is that?

    1. Joseph Haig

      Re: BREAK

      On Acorn computers you only had to press 'Break' by itself and it was incredibly frustrating to accidentally touch it after spending hours at some important work*. Requiring two or three keys in combination is a much better idea.

      * OK I admit it, games.

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: Requiring two or three keys in combination

        Sod that. You want a rotating key switch to arm the interrupt button which is concealed below a flip up cover.

        1. Rafael #872397
          Go

          Re: rotating key switch and flip up cover?

          Feh! Use punch cards. Insert them in several openings of the computer until they disconnect a wire or catch fire.

          I *demand* a "get off my lawn" icon, and a nap.

        2. DropBear Silver badge
          Trollface

          Re: Requiring two or three keys in combination

          Sod that. You want a rotating key switch to arm the interrupt button which is concealed below a flip up cover.

          I suggest a "pull up ESC key, rotate 180 degrees, press back in, press" sequence...

        3. Stoneshop Silver badge

          Re: Requiring two or three keys in combination

          My home server, in a homebuilt rackmount case because of space constraints, has two toggle switches that need to be actuated (upwards) simultaneously to perform a reset. And they're far enough apart that you can't easily do that with one hand.

        4. Mark 85 Silver badge

          Re: Requiring two or three keys in combination

          Sod that. You want a rotating key switch to arm the interrupt button which is concealed below a flip up cover.

          Dual usage then... one could also use that to launch missiles.

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