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 …

  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.

      2. TRT Silver badge

        Re: BREAK

        I seem to recall Macintosh had a "programmer's" button.

        1. Frank Bitterlich

          Re: BREAK

          Right. The Macintosh "Developer Button" was an add-on "button" you could purchase from Apple if you were an ADC member; actually it was just a set of two clip-on actuators that would push the already present "Reset" and "Interrupt" buttons on the main logic board.

          At the retailer I worked during that time, we used to make fun of it and offer our customers a "Mac Eject" - a straightened paper clip to push into the hole by the floppy drive to trigger the manual eject.

          1. TRT Silver badge

            Re: BREAK

            I seem to recall having a IIci that had two buttons on the front. There was a reset/reboot and a button that very, very occasionally let you type a command that could get you back to the finder, but it rarely worked. I wasn't an ADC member way, way back then. But the bent paperclip WAS an essential part of my tool kit.

        2. deadlockvictim Silver badge

          Re: BREAK

          Pre-1999 macs had an on\off button on the ADB-keyboards (upper right usually — it had a triangle pointing left) that I really liked. It was great that you could just hit a key on the keyboard and the machine would power up. Likewise, when you were ready to go, you could just hit the same button, press 'return' to choose the default option (shutdown) and off you went.

          I missed that option once Steve Jobs came back, had ADB [1] taken out and had the keyboard replaced with USB keyboards. USB was a poor replacement for ADB and SCSI.

          [1] Apple Desktop Bus: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apple_Desktop_Bus

          1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

            Re: BREAK

            Pre-1999 macs had an on\off button

            Current Macbook Pro laptops have this too. Also doubles as a fingerprint reader..

          2. Frank Bitterlich

            Re: BREAK

            That button was still there on the original iMac USB keyboard.

            As for shutting down (or going to sleep), pressing Ctrl-Eject on modern keyboards will still do the trick.

      3. Test Man

        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."

        Strictly speaking, BBC Master machines also had a SHIFT+BREAK combination that performed a hard reset. A tap of the BREAK key on its own was essentially a soft reset that still kept data in memory.

        1. Martin an gof Silver badge

          Re: BREAK

          Strictly speaking, BBC Master machines also had a SHIFT+BREAK combination that performed a hard reset.

          Nope, all BBC micros used BREAK on its own as a soft break, leaving data in memory, and in the case of a BASIC programme you could then type (IIRC) "OLD" and get your programme back. BREAK was intended in these circumstances to be used when your programme mucked its error handling up and ESCAPE got stuck in a loop (other methods of locking up are available, and I've probably done all of them).

          CTRL-BREAK was always the "hard" break, which essentially rebooted the machine ("duuuur, bip") and cleared memory. SHIFT-BREAK, by default, caused the machine to try to load a boot programme from whatever was the current filing system. This was most useful with floppy discs and was the standard way of starting software.

          There was a set of jumpers near the cartridge slot in the model A & B, one of which allowed you to reverse the action of SHIFT-BREAK so that the machine would by default always try to load from the filing system.

          The Master series (not sure about the B64 and B128) had some SRAM or NVRAM or EEPROM or something (I seem to remember batteries?) that did away with the need for the jumpers (*configure...) and also had a little plastic cam that could be turned with a small screwdriver and jammed the BREAK button up, so it couldn't "accidentally" be tapped.

          Brings back memories...

          M.

          1. nagyeger

            Re: BREAK

            But you could also do *FX 200,3 or something like that which would, if I remember both disable escape but also clear RAM on a 'soft break' and so make sure no one knew how bad your code was.

            Why do I remember this?? I haven't used a BEEB for thirty years!

          2. J.G.Harston Silver badge

            Re: BREAK

            Ctrl-Break (and Soft Break) only clear memory if you have previously told the machine to clear memory on reset - *FX200,2 or *FX200,3.

            Soft Break reinitialises the machine and re-enters the current language.

            Ctrl-Break reinitialises the machine, clears the soft keys, filing systems may select default options, and enters the default language.

            Power-On wipes all memory then procedes as with a Ctrl Break.

            Shift-Break is a Soft Break (or a Ctrl-Break if you are also pressing the Ctrl key) that asks the filing system to run a boot file.

            You can force any Break to wipe memory by telling the MOS to wipe memory on the next Break.

            You can force any Break to be a Power-On Break by putting the hardware into the Power-On state.

        2. TonyJ Silver badge

          Re: BREAK

          "...Strictly speaking, BBC Master machines also had a SHIFT+BREAK combination that performed a hard reset. A tap of the BREAK key on its own was essentially a soft reset that still kept data in memory..."

          Actually I seem to recall that SHIFT+BREAK would try to load from disc if one was present and bootable.

          CTRL+BREAK was the hard reset.

          Same on all BBC's.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: BREAK

        Yes, BBC Micro had a break key which was next to the line fo fucntion keys that were intended for use in games (there was a piece of perspex next to these to allow you to slip in a game specific set of key descritpions) and, as mentioned, it was really easy to press it by mistake (have an almost similar issue with the position of the power button in similar position at top right of keyboard on my Asus laptop!).

        As a result I seem to recall there were people who sold "break key covers" that stat over the break key to prevent you from being able to press it without taking the cover off!

    2. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: BREAK

      > One key would have been too easy to press

      Yeah, a one-key restart is bad, but a one-key Task Manager is no drama.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I think going back and destroying Windows ME/Vista would have been higher on the list.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Just imagine how great the choice of Linuxes would be if there'd been no Windows.

      One, one big fat bloated run-by-the-mega-corps one. systemd would be the least of your problems.

      Be careful what you wish for.....

      1. jelabarre59 Silver badge

        Gem

        Just imagine how great the choice of Linuxes would be if there'd been no Windows.

        No MSWin, we'd probably be running GEM/3.

    2. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Devil

      "I think going back and destroying Windows ME/Vista would have been higher on the list."

      I'd rather keep THOSE and destroy Windows "Ape" and Win-10-nic and that ENTIRE "the Metro" concept.

      Win-10-nic - making Vista look "not as bad"

      Actually Vista's biggest problem, aside from bloat and slow, was the 'new hardware requirement' which made low-end Vista-capable PCs cost twice as much as an inexpensive XP machine. ME's biggest problem was that it didn't really fix any '98 bugs, and created a bunch of new ones instead. Win "Ape" and Win-10-nic changed all of the rules, made us all "feel dumb" for not knowing how to use the computer any more, and JAMMED a bunch of unwanted things up our a... down our throats.

      Then again, Bill G. has been out of day-to-day things since the century rolled over. Everything since the ".Not" initiative has been Ballmer and Nadella. So Bill might've been involved with ME, but Vista was Ballmer's big blunder.

  8. wallaby

    Oh the incessant anti Microsoft whiners

    he didn't say he was responsible for it, and to be honest I don't think he gives a flying monkey about it.

    Regardless of what you think about Microsoft, his company popularised the use of PCs by providing an easy to use interface - more than could be said if certain other o\s's had got on the market first.

    1. tin 2

      There were already much better interfaces on "PCs". Windows - and therefore the IBM flavour of PC - was "popularised" by outright market distortion that pervades to this day.

      Frankly that's why pretty much everyone in the world sits down to work at a buggy slow POS that people perceive to be great purely because it's way better than it was. But apparently the Apple users are the sheep (no I'm not a fan of MacOS either).

      1. LDS Silver badge
        Devil

        was "popularised" by outright market distortion that pervades to this day.

        Actually, Windows was popularized by:

        1) Cheap PC clones still able to run it

        2) A lot of pirated software - including the OS itself.

        In some way, the latter is a "market distortion"....

    2. Archtech Silver badge

      Regardless of what you think about Microsoft, his company popularised the use of PCs by stealing an easy to use interface...

      FTFY.

      1. wallaby

        cant steal something that was given to you by people who didn't see the worth in it.

        1. Captain DaFt

          How true. If the management at Xerox hadn't been so hide bound to "We're a company that makes copiers", today we'd be talking about Xerox instead of Microsoft, or even Apple.

      2. MOV r0,r0

        Except that MS DOS was dominant long before Windows arrived.

        'One on every desk' - every business, schoolhouse, home was his goal. So he broke IBM's stranglehold by commoditizing the hardware and supplied a cheap, dirty little OS for others to sell their applications on.

        I suspect he's always been an altruist but that's not mutually exclusive with being a money grabbing filthy rich capitalist animal :)

    3. Dan 55 Silver badge

      more than could be said if certain other o\s's had got on the market first.

      A usable Windows arrived pretty late. The Amiga with pre-emptive multitasking and nice GUI had just about crashed and burned by the time Windows 95 arrived. That's how late to the party they were.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Happy

        " The Amiga with pre-emptive multitasking and nice GUI had just about crashed and burned by the time Windows 95 arrived."

        Amiga, pffft. Bloody kids gaming toy. Ooo look I can draw a pretty picture mummy.

        Real men (kids) had Atari's. The original Windows "Creators" edition.

        Nothing changes.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Windows 3.11 was perfectly usable in our mixed Windows / UNIX / OSD environment and the Office tools (particularly Excel) were a huge step forward for our users.

        Microsoft made some excellent, some awful, and plenty of inbetween software - they succeeded because of a combination of circumstances, some skill, some luck, some manipulation of positions of strength by them and others but fundamentally because business found it very convenient to settle on some easily available standard that was good enough to get the job done a little better and quicker (and often cheaper) than had been possible before.

        Given that some company was almost certain to end up in MS's position and that Bill Gates seems to be doing something useful with his wealth I don't think it was all that terrible that we ended up with Windows, Outlook, and Excel instead of OS/2, Lotus Notes, and Quattro Pro or whatever.

        1. Dan 55 Silver badge

          Windows 3.11 was usable, if you stuck to running one program at a time just in case. Using any browser to view a page with too many images or messing round with Word/Excel/Powerpoint too much could make it run out of memory, freeze other programs, or crash.

          I learnt to save after every couple of paragraphs the hard way.

          Practically any other comparable system of the time did things better.

        2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          it was all that terrible that we ended up with Windows, Outlook, and Excel instead of OS/2, Lotus Notes, and Quattro Pro

          Software would have been written to do an equivalent job regardless of the OS involved. So don't judge OS/2 by the fact that it didn't get Excel - if Windows hadn't come along then something very much like Excel would have arrived for OS/2. In fact, I seem to recall running StarOffice (grandaddy of LibreOffice) on my OS/2 box back in the 90's..

          Excel and Outlook arrived on Windows (and *only* Windows until relatively recently) because they were written/bought/stolen by the company that owned Windows. Who then had a good monopoly reason for ensuring that other OS's didn't get a foothold.

      3. J. R. Hartley Silver badge

        <Ctrl><LAmiga><RAmiga>

        Those were the days x

    4. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      his company popularised the use of PCs by providing an easy to use interface

      Nonsense. PCs became ubiquitous because the clones made them cheap, despite the many acknowledged design flaws. When it came to the interface MS was always playing catch up with Windows versus Amgia/Atari/Apple and even things like GEM for the PC. Playing catch up involved stupid decisions like "Program Manager" to avoid legal spats with Apple…

      Gates did do much better work on the programming languages side with things like MS-BASIC. But it was his eye for the deal with DOS and later NT that made him all the money.

      1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        because the clones made them cheap, despite the many acknowledged design flaws.

        And despite all the blockages that IBM tried to put in the way.

        "PC-compatible(mostly)" became the order of the day, especially with a little background help from Microsoft..

    5. Frank Bitterlich

      Not responsible...

      "he didn't say he was responsible for it, and to be honest I don't think he gives a flying monkey about it."

      Sure, his company was not responsible for the choice of Ctrl-Alt-Del to reboot the machine.

      But who exactly was responsible for "Press Ctrl-Alt-Del to log in" on various Windows versions? Was that brilliant idea also the fault of IBM engineers, or did someone at MS have a clown for breakfast?

      The greatest achievements, and the greatest fails, in computer history begin with someone saying "Hey, I have a hilarious idea..."

    6. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      his company popularised the use of PCs by providing an easy to use interface

      I think that the Amiga, Atari ST and Acorn Archimedes prove you wrong.

      The one difference between those and Windows is that none of them were picked by IBM to develop/steal an OS for them.

    7. Captain DaFt

      his company popularised the use of PCs by providing an easy to use interface

      I think that offering DOS for under $100 US (or 'Free' because it came with the machine) when other OSs for PCs ran from $300 to $800 might have had something to do with it in the beginning.

  9. Steve Todd

    Since <CTL><ALT><DEL> forced a reboot

    It was a good thing that it wasn’t a single key that could be hit by mistake. There are plenty of examples of early microcomputers with single reset buttons on the keyboard, and their users would regail you with tails of work lost for this reason.

    1. chivo243 Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Since <CTL><ALT><DEL> forced a reboot

      @Steve Todd

      Exactly... that's why there are two keys to launch a nuke. And if I remember correctly it took two <CTL><ALT><DEL> 's to reboot a machine too? '98 was so long ago.

      1. AMBxx Silver badge

        Re: Since <CTL><ALT><DEL> forced a reboot

        I'd always assumed that it was awkward to prevent accidental reboot too.

        Some keyboards have a single button for sleep and that's just annoying.

      2. Simon Harris Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: Since <CTL><ALT><DEL> forced a reboot @chivo243

        "Two keys..."

        You mean it's easier to launch a nuke than to restart a PC?

      3. DropBear Silver badge

        Re: Since <CTL><ALT><DEL> forced a reboot

        "'98 was so long ago."

        It was, wasn't it... Obligatory nostalgic moment, fleeting not entirely unlike tears in rain: So long ago, so clear...

    2. Mycho Silver badge

      Re: Since <CTL><ALT><DEL> forced a reboot

      As a child I once held Break down with a book until I could save what I was doing, because it only forced a reboot on release and I caught it in time.

    3. The obvious

      Re: Since <CTL><ALT><DEL> forced a reboot

      True that - I have a single key shutdown button on my keyboard, to make matters worse it also happens to be mapped to F4 which requires an 'fn' button to access the actual F-key behaviours... that box has gone down more times by accident than on purpose.

    4. Jamie Jones Silver badge

      Re: Since <CTL><ALT><DEL> forced a reboot

      Exactly. It was an interrupt designed for rebooting. It was intentionally difficult to press for that reason.

      The fact that Microsoft gradually changed their use of it from reboot, to task manager, to login screen, is their problem - they should have used a seperate key for THAT (and they were known to get PC manufacturers to add special windows keys to their keyboards)

      As noted by wikipedia:

      David J. Bradley (born 4 January 1949) is one of the twelve engineers who worked on the original IBM PC, developing the computer's ROM BIOS code. Bradley is credited for implementing the "Control-Alt-Delete" key combination that was used to reboot the computer.

      According to Bradley, Control-Alt-Delete was not intended to be used by end users, originally—it was meant to be used by people writing programs or documentation, so that they could reboot their computers without powering them down.

    5. chivo243 Silver badge

      Re: Since <CTL><ALT><DEL> forced a reboot

      Back in 98 or so, I worked in a school computer lab, the smart(ass) kids would tell others to hit <CTL><ALT><DEL> twice and the hilarity ensued.

  10. This post has been deleted by its author

  11. Pascal Monett Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Brilliant idea

    Oh yeah. Windows' stability until 7 was flaky at the best of times. Single-key rebooting would have made the experience that much more miserable due to user error.

    There is history enough around the disposition of existing keys and why they were changed to explain that a 3-key combo requiring both hands was actually a good idea because you really can't do that by accident.

    This comment from Gates simply demonstrates that it is high time people stop asking him questions about the PC era of his life.

    1. Archtech Silver badge

      Re: Brilliant idea

      "Windows' stability until 7 was flaky at the best of times".

      This is very true, but perhaps not the whole truth.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Brilliant idea

        Windows NT.4 was pretty solid, but I guess that came at the expense of features found in Win98. It morphed into Win 2K and then XP, the latter being the one that really had to cope with evolving nasties on the internet.

    2. Steve the Cynic Silver badge

      Re: Brilliant idea

      "3-key combo requiring both hands"

      Yeah, but one-handed Ctrl-Alt-Del has been possible on PC keyboards (some of them, anyway) since 1987, when the first 101-key PS/2-style keyboards were released. Left hand. Thumb on Ctrl, little finger on Alt, index finger on the non-keypad Del.

      No. Scratch that. They weren't PS/2 *style* keyboards. They were *actual* PS/2 keyboards. On Personal System/2 machines. That sort of PS/2. But it was 1987, and the keyboard finally had both Ctrl AND Alt on both sides of the spacebar.

      1. no-one in particular

        Re: Brilliant idea

        > one-handed Ctrl-Alt-Del has been possible on PC keyboards (some of them, anyway) ... Left hand...

        Get yourself a decent Northgate Omnikey Ultra and the 3-finger salute is done with just the Right hand: Thumb on RHS Ctrl, Index on RHS Alt and Ring on cursor pad Del. If you're (still) flexible enough you can make it into a proper Vulcan salute :-)

    3. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: Brilliant idea

      a 3-key combo requiring both hands

      Not on a modern full keyboard.. <Alt-Gr><R-Ctrl><<Delete> is pretty easy with one hand..

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    There is a one button option it's called the reset button.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      The reset button doesn't bring up Task Manager!

      1. Pirate Dave

        "The reset button doesn't bring up Task Manager!"

        Neither does CTRL-ALT-DEL. It's Ctrl-Shift-Esc that brings up Task Manager.

        Besides which, there wasn't a Task Manager in the DOS days. There weren't any tasks. Just programs, maybe a few memory-resident utilities, the command processor, and the DOS interrupt routines. Life was simpler then.

        1. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

          Neither does CTRL-ALT-DEL. It's Ctrl-Shift-Esc that brings up Task Manager.

          It does on the XP system I have just tried it on and so too does Ctrl-Shift-Esc which I hadn't known. I guess we both learned something new today.

          1. Pirate Dave
            Pirate

            "It does on the XP system I have just tried it on"

            Cool. Didn't know that, but I skipped XP - went from Win2k to Win2k12.

    2. DJV Silver badge

      Reset button

      A friend of mine's computer locked up one day. She reached around the back as she thought there was some sort of reset button there. She found a switch of sorts and flicked it to its other position. PC was far from happy having had its power supply switched from expecting 240 volts (UK standard) to expecting 110 volts (though still receiving the aforementioned 240). A large bang was the result. Fried the motherboard completely.

      She did have a bit of a track record - it was the 3rd PC she'd lost within 12 months! I did manage to recover data from the HDD, though that was rather flakey about powering up at first.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Many Smaller Companies Would Love....

    To create a Time Machine and go back in time and CTRL+ALT+DELETE 'Bill-Gates' out of existence for ripping off their IP! Little things add up Bill:

    ~~~~~~~

    .....“I am not sure you can go back and change the smalls things in your life without putting the other things at risk,”.....

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Many Smaller Companies Would Love....

      Might be wiser to spend that time machine development effort on stopping the current IT giants fucking up everyone else's IP. But there's a chance you could actually do something about that, so best to just whine about something that happened decades ago. Much easier.

    2. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Many Smaller Companies Would Love....

      Can't be done. The time machine needs Ctrl-Alt-Del too.

    3. Archtech Silver badge

      Re: Many Smaller Companies Would Love....

      .....“I am not sure you can go back and change the smalls things in your life without putting the other things at risk,”.....

      ...such as your immense bank balance.

  14. Cynical Observer
    Trollface

    When I were a lad

    Three Buttons? Luxury!

    When I were a lad, after getting up before going to bed, licking road for breakfast, we had to use four fingers to get into the debugger on a NetWare Server.

    There must be others who remember the Vulcan Death grip of

    Left Shift + Right Shift + Alt + Esc

    1. Simon Harris Silver badge

      Re: When I were a lad: 4 button salutes

      I use a VNC remote desktop system that needs Control + Shift + Alt + F just to get out of full-screen mode.

      It also has a Control + Alt + Delete button on the menu bar to send that key sequence to the remote machine.

    2. Pirate Dave
      Pirate

      Re: When I were a lad

      "There must be others who remember the Vulcan Death grip of

      Left Shift + Right Shift + Alt + Esc"

      That was even more fun to do under the VMWare client on Windows.

      Yes, I (proudly) ran Netware 6.5 under VMWare. Was great. Miss it horribly now that I'm in the drab, gray world of Active Directory.

  15. Simon Harris Silver badge

    Deja vu

    This isn't the first time he's talked about this - here he is 4 years ago...

    https://www.theverge.com/2013/9/26/4772680/bill-gates-admits-ctrl-alt-del-was-a-mistake

  16. Lee D Silver badge

    The point of Ctrl-Alt-Del was that it generated a hardware interrupt so it couldn't be faked or ignored, and someone had to be at the computer to issue it.

    Nowadays... well, that's just not true. You can "send" Ctrl-Alt-Delete to a machine in a variety of ways. In fact you need to or you can't log in remotely properly. Even things like on-screen keyboards can send it.

    As such STILL USING Ctrl-Alt-Delete is the mistake, not using it back then. It literally serves no useful purpose and makes it more difficult for people to use the machine if they have any unusual requirements (e.g. specialist keyboards, OSK's, voice-control, etc.) or work remotely.

    For a long time, Ctrl-Alt-Delete has been useless. Before that, it was a very silly combination (the first "pseudo-DOS/non-DOS" Windows versions used it for logon, but the DOS just before that would send a soft-reboot command when you pressed it - without confirmation! So it was like saying "don't worry, just type FORMAT C: to log on"). Back in the DOS days it actually served a useful purpose in that it was pretty much uncatchable so when something went wrong and you had to get out, and things like Ctrl-Break didn't respond, then Ctrl-Alt-Delete would let you take control of the machine again (not nice, but generally worked and much more hardware-friendly than power-off).

    It was a poor choice not because it took three fingers. It was a poor choice because it was a complete change of context of a well-known command to perform an action only possible at the physical machine itself that overrode just about everything else that was then turned into a "Click here to send Ctrl-Alt-Delete" thus defeating its entire purpose. I don't think IBM is to blame here (nobody wants their machine to reboot just because you hit the interrupt key, which is what would have happened in DOS, so a multi-key combination that was difficult to do accidentally was safest).

    What I blame them both for is NOT having a "PASSWORD MODE" on the keyboard. A physical, un-overrideable switch that puts the computer into a special mode outside OS control where you can then type in a password without possibility of software eavesdropping your keypresses, then you switch back to "normal" mode and carry on typing. Basically a UAC that was hardware-enforced and stopped people typing their passwords into website, random programs, getting their context switched on their mid-way, software keyloggers, and provided an obvious, secure and unfakeable place where it was safe to type passwords (Literally turn the keyboard red while the switch is flicked). We have junk like SysRq, two Windows keys, Scroll Lock / Pause / Break - which all served a purpose once -, etc. but not a secure way to type in something that we're ALWAYS needed to have a complete mode switch to type in securely.

    1. Baldrickk Silver badge

      So you have a special mode to type your password in on your keyboard.

      Ok, so now how does it get to the Computer and to the application you are using? phishy websites will still capture your password if you are stupid enough to enter it... how do you get around that?

    2. Nugry Horace

      I see this misconception a lot. Yes, CTRL+ALT+DEL generates a hardware interrupt, but only the same interrupt that any other keypress does. There's nothing special about it at the hardware level, and never was.

      The reason Windows NT uses it for its secure attention sequence is simply that it was the one key combination Microsoft could be sure other programs weren't using.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not one comment on the starving African kiddies.

    I suggest those of you who havent, all go start a direct debit for 1/2% of you salary to a charity of your choice.

    1. eJ2095

      1/2% Crap in the uk if you work for goverment thats higher then the yearly pay rise!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "thats higher then the yearly pay rise!"

        Thats irrelevent . Its all relative.

        When you give to charity you have less money . thats maths.

        If you like, think of it as you are on the salary you were a year or two ago.

        I Give half % , and im on less than most of you . £20k . And i've been subject to the public sector freeze for the last few years. Cant say I noticed , im used to never getting a rise or a promotion.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "I Give half % , and im on less than most of you . £20k ."

          It's easier to donate a notional something that you can do without. I donate the price of a cup of coffee every day in goods to the local food bank. Over the year that comes to a significant amount.

          However the food bank isn't a registered charity - otherwise a cash donation instead could be increased by the 25% Gift Aid refund to the charity. They said they were going to apply for registration and use one of the "for profit" web sites like Just Giving to handle the donations. Unfortunately it does not appear to be a priority for them.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "[...] go start a direct debit for 1/2% of you salary to a charity of your choice."

      Much of the current starvation is down to political factors: poor governance; corruption; ideological wars; religious opposition to birth control; urbanisation. External food aid often undermines the local agricultural economy and adds to the problems.

      Even in the UK a prospective leader of the Tory party has praised the need for local food banks as being a good thing. As a millionaire he can afford his religiously mandated large brood. Our local voluntary food bank is under increasing pressure - but what is surprising is that they say most of the needy families have 4+ children. Those children should not be allowed to suffer - but their parents seem to have been irresponsible.

      Bill and Melissa Gates are at least focussing on reducing disease. Choose your charities with great care.

    3. This post has been deleted by its author

  18. goldcd

    I find it quite cathartic

    Tapping away.

    It's not working.

    *mutters*

    Taps a bit more

    *swears under breath*

    "Sod it"

    *both hands slam onto opposite sides of the keyboard*

    Ahhh, feels better already.

  19. Archtech Silver badge

    Typical Gates thinking...

    Presumably Gates feels it's too much trouble to have to hit three keys at once. Maybe it is, maybe it isn't. But the IBM designers would have reckoned that users would only need this last-ditch resource very occasionally, whereas Gates - knowing the quality of his company's software - probably considers it a daily, if not hourly, occurence.

    1. ITS Retired

      Re: Typical Gates thinking...

      Well, Bill Gates was rumored to be using his own OS.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I would have proposed using the angriest key on the keyboard, Alt-Gr

  21. John Savard Silver badge

    Bad Idea

    I think that Ctrl-Alt-Del is just right; rebooting your PC is not something that you want to do by accident from your keyboard. Some desktop PCs did have a reset button on the front panel, in addition to the power button; that is the place for a single-key restart.

    However, he is still partly right. The function of ctrl-C in some operating systems, performed by ctrl-Pause on a PC, which is still labelled "break", to interrupt the running program... is under-used.

    Basically, ctrl-Break, as it's usually called, should be the way to tell the operating system to terminate a running program. It could instead do things like bring up the Task Manager in Windows.

    Of course, currently, Windows traps Ctrl-Alt-Del, so that unlike with DOS, it doesn't restart the computer, it just gives you a secure way to reach a known place in the operating system. Thus, in Windows NT, it was used to bring up the password entry screen - and there's still an option for turning that back on in Windows 7.

    If that had been its function from the beginning, then making it a single-key function would indeed make sense. But Windows NT didn't exist in 1981. So if the PC platform were designed with some hindsight, the best that could have been done would be to allow users to switch the interrupt from Ctrl-Alt-Del to, say, the Pause key - to match what was appropriate for the operating system they were using.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Bad Idea

      It isn't that pressing three keys at once is inherently awkward, it's that pressing *those* three keys is awkward. I can do it with one hand, but it requires a weird contortion to bring my middle finger under my palm.

      That might be acceptable for an occasional system freeze, but isn't fun for a login many times a day.

      1. Simon Harris Silver badge

        Re: Bad Idea

        On my keyboard AltGr is as acceptable as Alt, so it is quite possible with one hand.

        However, since I started using a PC over 30 years ago, my muscle memory tells me to use Ctrl + Alt from the left side of the keyboard with my left hand, and Del with my right hand.

      2. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

        Re: Bad Idea

        Remember that the original PC Model F keyboard (Not the AT keyboard we use today) had fewer keys, and there was no dedicated del key.

  22. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    C-A-D reboots OS/2 (up to Warp4, not sure about later versions)

  23. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "an African child is 100 times more likely to die of a preventable disease than an American child"

    Meanwhile, in the US, the anti-vaxers are trying to reduce this ratio.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Meanwhile, in the US, the anti-vaxers are trying to reduce this ratio."

      and the climate warming effects are encouraging the spread of disease carrying insects northwards in the USA.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The only preventable diseases that kill more American children are obesity - and Facebook.

  24. paul2718

    Ctrl-Alt-Del generates an interrupt not a reboot, it's up to the OS what it does next. The original PC had a Big Red Switch for when it got really serious.

    Paul

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "The original PC had a Big Red Switch for when it got really serious."

      Later PCs have a four second press of the power switch to effect a "hardware" power off when the OS is stuck. Not sure what determines that function - as otherwise it is an instantaneous power off if the OS is not loaded and running.

      1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

        Reset buttons on the system unit appeared on quite a few clones of the original PC (along with Turbo buttons), and really became standard with the ATX motherboard standard. That was a real hardware reset, originally in TTL that simulated a power on by getting the processor to do a power-on initialize (there's a RESET pin on an 8088/6 chip) without actually having to turn the power off. It was more friendly to the power supply than actually hitting the power button.

        The power button on most PCs is now a software power button interpreted by a small bit of logic on the motherboard (or in it's support chipset). One press generated an ATX reset. Holding it for a few seconds tells the power supply to stop supplying power to all but the standby power rail.

      2. bombastic bob Silver badge

        "Later PCs have a four second press of the power switch"

        "Not sure what determines that function"

        It's done in hardware - APM and ACPI interface with it, but those are software specs.

        I forget the acronym associated with the hardware side, if there is one...

  25. Quentin North

    Break Key

    The break key pre-dates any of the micro era computers and dates back to the 19th century telegraph. It was certainly on old teletypes used with mainframes in the 1950s and 60s and referred to a function called "line break". In the comms between a TTY terminal and the computer a line break effectively brought the signal level to a "space" condition (usually +5v IIRC) and would wake up a modem or multiplexor at the computer end. This would be used in some computer system as the login prompt key and also the abort program execution key. Indeed, even the 1985 IBM PC keyboard had a break key, but it was a alt-shifted function of the pause key. Quite why IBM didn't choose alt-break fro login/interrupt/reboot I don't know. More info at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Break_key

  26. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge
    Coat

    One button reboot

    One button to bring up Task Manager is acceptable. One button countersunk on the PC case to force the damn thing to reset, reboot or shut down is acceptable. Another button on a keyboard to do any of that is a nightmare unless it's tucked well out of the way. Like others I presumed the three finger salute was intended to ensure that was non-accidental.

    Did I ever tell you of the time I was a new to the job PFY and was using the Stop/Start buttons on the Op's Console to pause help files I was reading on the mainframe?

    I hadn't got far before it was pointed out that this physically stopped the CPU running. Minor user annoyance offset by much hilarity at the newbie's mistake.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: One button reboot

      Some of the English Electric System 4 models had an engineer panel with MEOS and MEIS buttons viz Machine Error Orderly Stop and Machine Error Immediate Stop. The latter froze the machine in the microcode execution.

      They were used very successfully to diagnose a noise problem that corrupted instructions. It was a few days before it was discovered that any disk write that was in progress would continue - but wrote all zeroes to the sector.

  27. kmac499

    Three Finger salute ?

    Three Keys across two hands is a good engineering solution for a "Get out of Jail" option.

    (see Atlas missile launch using two keys six feet or more apart)

    A two finger salute would involve too much schoolboy sniggering

    A one finger salute would get caught all the time.

  28. Steve Evans

    I think I'd rather have an OS/Software which didn't require a special key, or key combo for "OIY! PAY ATTENTION TO ME! YOU'VE GONE WRONG AGAIN!"

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dear Bill, if you were to go back in time there is a damn sight more you could fix architecturally with Windows than just turning the three fingered salute into the middle finger such as the how shit the registry is and the laughable excuse of an update mechanism plus a whole heap of other stuff I haven't time to go into.

    Oh and you should have considered an ARM port a whole lot sooner than betting the farm on x86.

  30. Anthonyl

    Think of the man-hours that would have been saved with just a single button!

    And anyway, I'd always understood that it wasn't Bill Gates who invented Ctrl-Alt-Del but he sure made it famous.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Press CTRL+ALT+DEL to log on

    In Windows 10 I no longer have to press Ctrl+Alt+Delete before I can log on, but I still have to press something. Why? When my Linux box boots up it goes straight to the password prompt and I just type my password. Why does Windows make me press the "any" key or click the mouse before the login prompt appears?

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge

      Re: Press CTRL+ALT+DEL to log on

      "Why does Windows make me press the "any" key or click the mouse before the login prompt appears?"

      in Win-10-nic, it's so they can SHOVE ADVERTISEMENTS at you before you log in.

  32. Mike 125

    why

    'Bill Gates says.............'

    Why do we listen to this privileged pr'ck? Oh yea, he's rich. He's a rich tw't who was in the right place at the right time... to make money. He was not the least interested in improving the science and technology of computing, (which he hasn't), just making money, (which... yea... yea).

    And that in my view, makes him a sad little man. Good hair though, for his age.

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Stop

      Re: why

      "He's a rich tw't who was in the right place at the right time... to make money"

      what's wrong with making money? Work hard, earn money. Sounds good to me. Oh, and pick a career that actually pays well. That also sounds good to me.

      Only a SOCIALIST or a COMMUNIST would be angry at someone else's success. Those philosophies are based on ENVY, and the concept that "someone else" should be working hard so YOU don't have to, and everyone gets the SAME salary, yotta yotta yotta regardless of how important the work is.

      Economic conditions over millenia of human society have caused janitorial work to pay low wages, and engineering work to pay high wages, and "running the entire company" to pay million dollar salaries because "your decisions could mean success or bankruptcy" and "thousands of employees' fates and the stockholders' investments are in YOUR hands, so we want the BEST person running the show and are willing to pay for the best".

      The pay should reflect the value of the work done. If YOU aren't paid well, find work that has value, and do that.

      1. Mike 125

        Re: why

        >>what's wrong with making money?

        Nothing at all. But I said "..._just_ making money...". IMHO there's something wrong with humans who have that as their primary motivation. (Having said that, I suspect it probably wasn't Bill's primary motivation either, to begin with.) He's clearly a very bright guy. But he could have used that intelligence to improve the IT ecosystem for everyone. But he didn't. Instead, he made it a whole shedload worse, unimaginably worse, which, as stated, I find sad.

  33. anthonyhegedus Silver badge

    I always got the impression that it was ctrl-alt-del to make it a very deliberate, and not accidental operation. There's nothing worse than a single key having a major function. Just look at craptops that have a single key to turn wifi off and how much trouble that caused over the years, for example.

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      There's nothing worse than a single key having a major function.

      Like the on/off rocker switch on the front of the Sun 3. at knee height...

      1. Agamemnon

        I'm a wee over 2m, my bony knees found that switch *precicely* as I sat in my overpriced .com chair.

  34. Pirate Dave
    Pirate

    Single Key

    "Sure, if I could make one small edit I would make that a single key operation."

    And, this being Microsoft, the single key they would have chosen to reboot the computer would have been the Enter key... at least through DOS 4, then they'd have changed it to the space bar.

  35. IGnatius T Foobar
    FAIL

    Speaking of Gates FAILs...

    "640K ought to be enough for anybody."

    -- Bill Gates

    (he spent his entire career denying it, but he really did say it.)

    1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

      Re: Speaking of Gates FAILs...

      "640K ought to be enough for anybody."

      Well, if you look at the original IBM architecture documents, that was hardwired into the original design. Video and I/O devices from 1M downwards to 640K, program memory from $800-ish upwards to 640K.

      1. Agamemnon

        Re: Speaking of Gates FAILs...

        In fucking SIPP.

  36. sisk Silver badge

    I actually do have a single key that sends a Ctrl-Alt-Delete (the advantages of a programmable keyboard are many), though these days it's more to get the login screen or lock my computer than as an interrupt. It's very convenient. I can see why Gates would want to turn back the clock on this one.

  37. cdshaffer

    That makes sense cause if there is one thing that separates Windows from other operating systems is how often you need to reboot the machine because the operating system crashed.

  38. CheesyTheClown Silver badge

    Antivaxxers?

    Bill Gate is a brilliant man, but sometimes he pisses away time in the wrong way.

    Consider ratios.

    What's easier, his way or the antivaxxer way? Let's evaluate both.

    Bill says that an African child is 100 times more likely to die from preventable diseases than an American.

    Logistically, vaccinating and healing Africans is very difficult and nothing but an uphill battle.

    The antivaxxers have already been increasing deaths in American related to mumps, measles and reubella. This is much easier as all it takes is a former porn actress with the education correlating to said career choice to campaign on morning TV about how MMR vaccines can be dangerous and cause autism.

    So instead of fighting like hell to vaccinate Africans... isn't it easier and cheaper just to let porn actresses talk on morning TV?

    The results should in theory be the same... the ratio Bill mentioned will clearly shrink either way.

    Of course, if his goal is to actually save lives as opposed to flipping a statistic, we might do better his way.

  39. Chunes

    Gates' Biggest Mistake

    …was to put Ballmer in charge.

  40. Baldie

    Would have spoiled a good brand name

    The first shop I ever saw where you could buy software (in Boston in about 1986 I think) was called CTRL-ALT-DELI. I just Googled it and the name now seems to be used by a catering outlet.

  41. Aynon Yuser

    With only one key fumble fingers like mine would be accidentally rebooting my computer all the time. I didn't mind ACD as at least I could intentionally combo those keys.

    Ick. I abhor IBM. Their connection to Nazi Germany makes me sick.

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      >Their connection to Nazi Germany makes me sick.

      Don't know why you single out IBM, until Churchill forced the US off the fence, they were quite happy trading with both Germany and the UK - it was just business. Hence why when they did enter the war, the UK picked up a rather large tab, which was finally paid off in 2006...

    2. wayne 8

      I guess buying a VW is out of the question. Or using a drug made by Bayer. Or any a vehicle that has Bosch parts. Old man Bosch received a Nazi State funeral when he died during the war. In spite of being a supposed staunch anti Nazi.

  42. Challo

    Proper Software

    If he'd made a proper OS then he wouldn't need Ctrl-Alt-Delete.

  43. wayne 8

    Better if Gates had designed better systems

    Obviate the need to seize control of the machine when the system fails to respond to normal inputs.

    One button to hit by mistake and watch whatever you were doing disappear.

    Minor improvement when the three fingered salute did not just reboot the machine as it did with Win 3.1.

  44. Ken 16 Silver badge
    Coffee/keyboard

    A single key, randomly assigned

    Rather than having to hit three keys deliberately, it should have been a single key, in the early days assigned by the manufacturer to any of the Function keys but as software got more sophisticated, remapped randomly on startup so you never know which one you're hitting.

    I've got the next best thing on my Chromebook with the power key adjacent to the backspace so I hesitate before erasing any rubbish I write.

  45. Agamemnon
    Coat

    The Redmond Executive

    Bill lives in Bellevue.

    He loosely executives The Bill amd Melinda Foundation, In Seattle.

    Just facts.

  46. WMTrender

    Why Ctl-Alt-Del

    I was at Gartner when an inquiry came to us from Microsoft on this issue. They really wanted a one-button answer! I suggested that if they chose to go that way, they should label it the "Any" key - from "hit any key to restart." They took my comments grudgingly.

    In the 1980s I was with IBM in Poughkeepsie. IBM's S/370 mainframes required Ctl-Alt-Del specifically to avoid operators accidentally hitting the IPL (Initial Program Load) button, forcing a restart. The PC was used as a console, replacing the exotic and expensive technologies used earlier.

    If trained mainframe operators could make that mistake often enough to justify the three-button solution, I heartily affirm that it remains a good safety mechanism for the general public.

  47. Ian Joyner

    Just horrible

    It's just an all-round horrible concept. Makes using a computer seem like using a computer - cryptic.

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