back to article Bill G on Microsoft's biggest blunder... Was it Bing, Internet Explorer, Vista, the antitrust row?

Bill Gates has said his biggest management miscalculation was failing to position Microsoft's Windows Phone as the primary rival mobile operating system to Apple's iOS. Speaking at venture capital beanfeast Village Global last week, Gates said that although the company he founded had not missed mobile phones it had gone about …

  1. quxinot Silver badge
    Trollface

    Yet another....

    Instance of someone forgetting Windows ME.

    1. Semtex451 Silver badge

      Re: Yet another....

      Plus Win CE, plus not getting a useable mass market tablet out in time to kill off the extortionate iPad

      1. Halfmad Silver badge

        Re: Yet another....

        Don't know if I can bash them for Windows CE, if nothing else at least they gave it a shot.

        We love bashing MS on here but truth is them entering a market has pushed that market to up it's game and yes MS then crash and burn - but without it the market would have become complacent.

        1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
          Coat

          Re: Yet another....

          Windows CE,ME & NT.

          1. Waseem Alkurdi Silver badge

            Re: Yet another....

            Not NT ... it is quite a reliable core, that it didn't need a significant redesign in 30+ years.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Yet another....

          ...and let's not forgot Windows RT

      2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        Re: Yet another....

        I'm not sure the iPad is all that extortianate.

        You can get some OK 7" Android tablets for £100-£150. But Google doesn't really seem to have put the same effort into tablets as phones, and nor have the app makers. The useable 10" Droid tablets seem to start at around the £200 mark - and the decent ones start in the £300-£400 range - which is also where the iPad starts.

        So I think it's a bit of a stretch to claim they're a rip off. Particularly given they're half the price of a new iPhone, even though the screen is the most expensive bit - and the iPad one is bigger. Plus the decently specc'ed cheap droid phones seem to start around £200.

        My conclusion is that phones are over-priced, especially the top-end ones.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Yet another....

          Google discovered that phones are far more juicier than tablets when slurping personal data.

      3. Captain Scarlet Silver badge

        Re: Yet another....

        I liked Windows CE but it just wasn't designed to be a phone, I had an Orange branded Windows CE phone and it was far to clunky. The start menu just wasn't usable, so everything ended up on the tiny desktop.

        1. Waseem Alkurdi Silver badge

          Re: Yet another....

          Windows CE or Windows Mobile?

          1. Captain Scarlet Silver badge

            Re: Yet another....

            Windows CE - Orange SPV C500

            Edit: It does actually state Windows Mobile CE 2003 on Wikipedia, I didn't think Windows Mobile had a start menu. Obviously I didn't remember this correctly.

      4. katrinab Silver badge

        Re: Yet another....

        The iPad was actually a lot cheaper than alternative slabs available at the time.

        The reason Apple is the most expensive is because people refuse to pay Apple prices for something that isn’t Apple, with a very few exceptions, eg Galaxy Note before the iPhone 6+ came out.

        1. Sam Adams the Dog

          As in all else, Orwell is correct.

          Well, umm, there were a few more problems with Android in the times you mention, including one which persists now, or might only be ending now: The inability to get OS upgrades was as new versions were released. Considering that the updates included fixes for security issues, that one's a biggie.

          Also, and probably a result rather than a cause of the fact that Android is not the market leader, accessories are quite slow to come out for Android phones. I never could get a battery case for my L6, and that's something I can't live without. So that's when I switched to iPhone.

          1. MrReynolds2U
            Trollface

            Re: As in all else, Orwell is correct.

            That's a nice speaker with a built-in dock... look! we've created a new phone you'll want with a different connection port...

    2. Multivac

      Re: Yet another....

      Or Windows 7, Windows 9, Windows 10, Skype and Office 365... think there were a few dodgy browsers too... Oh and Azure.

      1. Waseem Alkurdi Silver badge

        Re: Yet another....

        Not Windows 7 please. Or Windows 8.1 (beyond the UI).

    3. katrinab Silver badge

      Re: Yet another....

      That wasn’t such a problem because Windows 2000 was available as an alternative.

    4. Fungus Bob Silver badge

      Re: Yet another....

      Instance of someone forgetting Microsoft Bob.

      1. Waseem Alkurdi Silver badge

        Re: Yet another....

        And Clippy.

        (But nice pun you've got there! :-P )

    5. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: Yet another....

      I'd rather have Windows ME than Win-10-nic!!! [I could always code m own device drivers for ME if I wanted to... no special super-secret signing algorithm to distribute them either]

      Micro-shaft's *BIGGEST* mistake took place when they abandoned the

      P U R E _ S U C C E S S

      of XP and 7, and

      S C R E W E D _ T H E _ P O O C H

      with 'windows Ape' (8.x) and the Sinofsky/Larson-Greene *ABORTION* known as "The Metro". And then, they DOUBLED DOWN ON POOCH SCREW with Win-10-nic.

      However, what comes in 2nd place wiould be the ".Net Initiative" from the early 'noughties', which was the BEGINNING of Micro-shafts downfall... the '.Net' framework, C-pound, yotta yotta.

      (they focused SO MUCH EFFORT into THE WRONG THINGS, and NONE OF IT into THE RIGHT THINGS, whcih would've included phones and slabs, but mostly would have IMPROVED WINDOWS 7 instead of RE-INVENTING A PILE OF EXCREMENT to REPLACE IT)

      Yeah, that pretty much sums it up!

      Wouldn't it have been BETTER to *NOT* screw over new computer sales, by continuing to support XP with service pack 10, as well as 7, instead of ABANDONING 7 THIS YEAR... NEW PRODUCT SALES with Windows 7 would be like a TOTAL REBOUND, but NNOOooo... they have to CONTROL THE CUSTOMER CHOICES INSTEAD.

      That's right, the attitude that THEY must 'control the customers'... I would say *THAT* *ATTITUDE*, that "take over the world" mentality, to control the markets and CRUSH the competition while simultaneously releasing INFERIOR products because they essentially become a monopoly... THAT is what will ultimately bring them down!

      1. GrumpenKraut Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Yet another....

        Up-voted for excessive capatilization. -------->

        Somewhat more seriously: your very last paragraph actually sums it up pretty well.

      2. Mystic Megabyte Silver badge
        Linux

        Re: Yet another....@Bob "the longest suicide note in history"

        Hi Bob, I've posted this before but maybe you missed it. Microsoft Vista arrived with baked-in DRM. So an OS that I paid for was actually spying on me and continuously checking to see if I'm a criminal.

        My last MS OS was XP, I moved to Linux and you should too.

        Read this article by Peter Gutmann;

        https://www.cs.auckland.ac.nz/~pgut001/pubs/vista_cost.html

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @bombastic bob - Re: Yet another....

        I don't think it's the pooch who got it, Bob!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: @bombastic bob - Yet another....

          The pooch is included in Microsoft Bob.

      4. jgarbo
        Big Brother

        Re: Yet another....

        Don't forget he's William Henry Gates III, from a family of world taker-overers (at any cost). In the blood.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Windows is not a monopoly because Apple exists"

    > Whether Gates is right that there is room for only one non-Apple mobile OS is also open to question

    It is difficult to get a man to understand competition, when his career depended upon him crushing it!

    1. chivo243 Silver badge

      Re: "Windows is not a monopoly because Apple exists"

      He didn't get rich writing checks.

      1. Nick Kew Silver badge

        Re: "Windows is not a monopoly because Apple exists"

        Um, didn't he?

        History says he got rich from MS-DOS, which he originally bought. First driving the IBM PC, then nurturing a 'clones' ecosystem with MSDOS and its successors at its centre.

        1. Wade Burchette Silver badge

          Re: "Windows is not a monopoly because Apple exists"

          You missed the Simpsons joke.

  3. BGatez Bronze badge

    Windows 10 spyware, machine crippling OS

    1. Wade Burchette Silver badge

      That is after Bill Gates. Even after Steve Ballmer.

      1. Updraft102 Silver badge

        That is after Bill Gates. Even after Steve Ballmer.

        The headline read "Microsoft's biggest blunder," not "Microsoft's biggest blunder while I was CEO."

        1. Ugotta B. Kiddingme Silver badge

          article was quite clear

          The very first sentence of the article: "Bill Gates has said his biggest management miscalculation was failing to position Microsoft's Windows Phone as the primary rival mobile operating system to Apple's iOS."

  4. Uk_Gadget
    Unhappy

    Damn I Miss Windows Phone

    My Windows Nokia was so much better than my Current Android Nokia, RIP Windows Phone

    1. iron Silver badge

      Re: Damn I Miss Windows Phone

      Your problem is you bought a Nokia. My own personal dislike of real Nokias aside the current owner of that brand is not the same company and makes cheap crap. When testing my apps I see better performance from 5 year old OnePlus & Huawei handsets than current Nokias.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Damn I Miss Windows Phone

        Pretty sure my Lumia 640 was made by MS.

      2. chuBb.

        Re: Damn I Miss Windows Phone

        Nope doesnt matter what android handset it is is, its crap compared to windows phone UX,

        Live tiles were great, swipe right and browse list of installed apps just worked without the clutter of multiple home screens, swipe down on home screen for anything you pinned, and grouped icons worked so much better.

        If MS still wanted to get into phones all they would have to do is port the launcher properly to android and get a few vendors to use that instead of what ever crap they come up with or the shite that google offers. Honestly switching to android feels like a massive step backwards in usability (never mind the fact i had a dock for my phone with usb and hdmi outputs years before samsung crowed about that, wireless charging and basically all of the guff which has been the headline features of the galaxy s whatever churn year on year since 2016....)

        1. Richard Plinston Silver badge

          Re: Damn I Miss Windows Phone

          > If MS still wanted to get into phones all they would have to do is port the launcher properly to android

          They already did that. Or specifically Nokia had done that with Nokia-X (Android on Nokia phone with WP8 launcher and Microsoft and Nokia services. MS continued selling these as Microsoft-X for a couple of months after they bought Nokia phone division but they outsold Lumia so had to be killed.

        2. Waseem Alkurdi Silver badge

          Re: Damn I Miss Windows Phone

          There is a Chinese launcher that brought the Live Tiles to Android. Probably long since dead now.

          May I interest you in a OnePlus 6 that runs Windows 10 ARM? Twitter's @NTAuthority has done it, and I would rob a bank and hand over the spoils to know how the hell he did.

  5. Portent

    Microsoft is an interesting company but not one that sees the future very often. It did predict the massive adoption of DOS, BASIC and Windows (all of which were licensed from other companies or the idea copied). But since the early days they seem to have failed to predict the next big trend.

    Internet - Spent years trying to catch up

    Games - Had to buy DirectX to compete with other API's such as Glide (3Dfx) and PowrerVR. Then had to throw money at XBox to make it successful.

    Languages - Had to copy Java to create C# (after losing a battle for Visual J++)

    Smart phones and tablets - Too little, too late

    1. Def Silver badge

      I don't think you can really claim any different about most companies though. Google have certainly bought their fair share of companies to acquire technologies they couldn't develop themselves and have canned far more projects than Microsoft in a far shorter span of time.

    2. AIBailey Silver badge

      In some cases, Microsoft has indeed purchased other companies in order to improve its portfolio, however several of your points are plain wrong.

      Internet - Spent years trying to catch up

      I'm not sure what you're getting at with this. I assume you're referring to internet browsers. Bill Gates suddenly became very excited about the potential of the internet just before the launch of Windows 95, and so Internet Explorer was included as a last minute thought. Considering the scale of the browser anti-trust lawsuits in the early 2000's due to IE's dominance in the market, I'm not sure how they can have been spending years catching up?

      Games - Had to buy DirectX to compete with other API's such as Glide (3Dfx) and PowrerVR.

      You miss the point with this. For starters, DirectX wasn't bought in, it was developed by Microsoft themselves. Furthermore, it wasn't to compete with Glide and PowerVR - they were both bespoke API's for their respective cards, and so any games for Windows would require the appropriate code for the specific cards. DirectX provided a single API for all developers to code for, and all video cards with the right hardware specifications and drivers for DirectX would work. It signalled the end of games that only supported one API outside of software rendering, and shifted responsibility for supporting hardware features in games from the coders to the video card manufacturers.

      Then had to throw money at XBox to make it successful.

      As have Atari, Nintendo, Sega and Sony. Sometimes successfully, sometimes not. Any console release will have an eye watering marketing budget behind it.

      Languages - Had to copy Java to create C# (after losing a battle for Visual J++)

      Though they were initially very similar languages, they're now quite distinct in their differences. While on the subject of languages, Microsoft have a pretty good track record with their support for both languages and developers. Right back from their early days they've been developing programming languages, and variants of existing ones, and nowadays Visual Studio is probably one of the most used IDE's around.

      Smart phones and tablets - Too little, too late

      They definitely got smartphones wrong, though in regards to tablets they were one of the first companies to give it a try with the Tablet PC. It wasn't a success, but you certainly can't say they failed to predict the trend. They were actually too early to market.

      We all like a bit of Microsoft bashing at times, but you're going to have to try harder than this.

      1. hammarbtyp Silver badge

        While I agree with you on most. MS did miss the internet, because it was not in there culture to understand a system in which the PC was not central and therefore could not be controlled by them.

        They spent a lot of money making the least compatible browser out there (something we still paying for) and trying to make the PC the portal of choice, as the world started to move to online services

        The internet is based around co-operative open standard. Foe long time these were just a anathema to MS, who did trust what it could not control

        They were so blinkered on the PC it meant that they were slow to offer internet services, so allowed Google to grow, cloud services allowing AWS to take the market, and even mobile phones where they seen as some sort as add on to the PC and not a device in itself

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          That’s a bit revisionist. When it was released IE6 was the most standards-compliant browser in the world. That’s why it saw mass corporate adoption and hangs around “because if it ain’t broke why fix it”. The only people who whine are webdevs because their latest crappy framework won’t run on it. Given the choice between IE6 and JavaScript devs every sane person would choose IE6!

          1. Dan 55 Silver badge

            It saw mass corporate adoption because it was installed with Windows and could be controlled with group policies, that's all that was needed.

          2. Nick Kew Silver badge

            Sorry, you're the revisionist here.

            The big damage was done long before IE6. Long before the antitrust lawsuits. And some of the damage is still with us, despite MS's (genuine) efforts to put that level of evil firmly behind it.

          3. Richard Plinston Silver badge

            > IE6 was the most standards-compliant browser in the world

            Only by the measurement of 'Microsoft de-facto standards'.

            Actually the problem wasn't that it didn't match the standards, but that it had extensions to those standards that website developers used* and, in particular, Frontpage** generated.

            * it was alleged that Microsoft paid developers to use IE specific extensions. IE 'hangs around' because of those extensions which are _not_ standard and no other browser bothers with them so either use IE6 or rewrite those in-house websites.

            ** Frontpage was bought in and amended by MS to generate non-standard websites to lock users into IE.

          4. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            No, people whine about IE 6 because:

            - Partially complying with what is now an 18 year old standard is hardly adequate these days.

            - It's slow.

            - The interface is terrible by modern standards.

            - It's limited to a single platform.

            1. Waseem Alkurdi Silver badge

              You've forgotten one: more (security) holes than a filter.

              Probably more than Flash. (Or nope, I am exaggerating)

          5. bombastic bob Silver badge
            Devil

            more than a bit revisionist.

            to be honest, my first exposure to the internet was through MSN, during the beta test. Compuserve and AOL and others didn't have internet gateways. MSN had it right. And early on IE2 was pretty good. It didn't go bad until ActiveX was added along with VBScript [which only IE supported]

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              my first exposure to the internet was through MSN

              Ah, so you were a bit of a late-comer (like Microsoft itself), then? ;-)

              I’ve been on the internet since before the web existed (just!), and that still doesn’t make me a *particularly* early adopter…

        2. Richard Plinston Silver badge

          > They spent a lot of money making the least compatible browser out there

          Actually they didn't. Spyglas wrote IE on the basis they would get $5.00 for every copy sold. MS gave it away and thus claimed they never sold any and didn't pay Spyglass. Spyglass sued and eventually won a settlement but had gone bankrupt by then.

          Being a 'Microsoft Partner' is the kiss of death.

        3. MrReynolds2U
          Windows

          Nope. Gates saw people transitioning to thin clients effectively running all their business apps through a browser. He predicted this (not the only one) and knew that it might not be windows they would be running on. MS have spent considerably on providing technologies to either create or host these online platforms. We are creatures of habit (mostly) so very few people are running everything through a browser, although it is now technically possible.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        One correction - DirectX wasn't created to compete with Glide and PowerVR, it was created to compete with OpenGL which already offered hardware abstraction but was also cross platform. By creating DirectX they achieved similar goals to OpenGL with the added bonus (to MS) of locking third party software further into the Windows ecosystem.

        1. Waseem Alkurdi Silver badge

          The result being that nobody can do any serious PC gaming outside of Windows.

      3. Richard Plinston Silver badge

        > I'm not sure what you're getting at with this.

        The first edition of 'The Way Ahead' had no mention of the internet at all. This was added in later editions.

        > Bill Gates suddenly became very excited about the potential of the internet just before the launch of Windows 95, and so Internet Explorer was included as a last minute thought.

        That is not true at all. The first official release of Windows 95 did _not_ include the ability to access the internet but instead had the original MSN, a private network for Win95 users only, which was intended to compete with the internet.

        Later there was an extra cost Plus! pack that did include internet access and several OEMs added Netscape and Trumpet Winsock. It was only later releases that Win95 included internet as standard, because they failed to gain traction with MSN.

        Internet Exporer was written by Spyglass. MS agreed to pay $5.00 (or so) for every copy _sold_ and then _gave_ it away so nothing was paid to Spyglass until they sued and won.

      4. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

        "Bill Gates suddenly became very excited about the potential of the internet just before the launch of Windows 95"

        If you suddenly get excited about the Internet in 1995 (and that as head of a supposed high-tech software company, no less), then you are really slow on the uptake.

    3. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      Microsoft did not used to need to see the future

      Their initial master stroke was getting a per-machine license fee for software bundled with early IBM PCs. When someone else came up with a killer app Microsoft bought a third rate competitor, pissed on it until they liked the flavour and bundled the result with their monopolyware. The vast majority of customers could not measure quality and did not see the value in buying software that worked when they could muddle through with the rubbish that came pre-installed.

      For some reason Microsoft did not follow their winning strategy with phones. They tried creating the OS themselves even though writing software is not one of their core strengths (they excel at licensing it). They did not require all new PCs to come with a bundled Microsoft phone. Using a monopoly in one field to gain a monopoly in a new one is illegal because it is so effective you can pay the fines and still make a huge profit. If Microsoft had played to their strengths we would all be waiting ten minutes for our phones to boot up and would have to end calls when the virus scanner was active.

      1. The Original Steve

        Re: Microsoft did not used to need to see the future

        Long boot up times and shipped with an AV...

        You must be referring to Android.

        Whilst I use a droid today and I'm very pleased with it, WinPho neither had nor needed an AV and its boot up times kicked the shit out of Android and even iOS at the time.

        But let's not let the facts get in the way of a good MS bashing.

        Which is odd, as there's a plethora of excellent criticisms you could have chosen from.

        1. Waseem Alkurdi Silver badge

          Re: Microsoft did not used to need to see the future

          and shipped with an AV...

          Not Android ... at least not on stock Android. That must be your phone's OEM, and frankly, to get a virus on Android one must be a real idiot.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          @The Original Steve - Re: Microsoft did not used to need to see the future

          It was fast to boot because you had to reboot it pretty often that's why.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: They did not require all new PCs to come with a bundled Microsoft phone

        Hmm. That *would* have been an interesting strategy!

      3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Microsoft did not used to need to see the future

        "For some reason Microsoft did not follow their winning strategy with phones."

        I doubt the phone industry, manufacturers and networks alike would have allowed them. They saw the way the PC makers had been shafted and wouldn't have let that happen again.

    4. chivo243 Silver badge
      Facepalm

      "Smart phones and tablets - Too little, too late"

      I think enough phone buyers that had a choice of platforms, purposely avoided windows on a mobile. People had had to deal with Windows at work, Windows at home, and picked something different.

      "Gates said if Microsoft had got that right, it would be the leading company in the world, not just one of the leaders."

      I think saying we could have been the one, had I thrown more cash at it, is wishful thinking on Mr. Gates part. I don't see how missing the boat with Windows would help with a mobile OS.

    5. DougS Silver badge

      So which company do you think DID see the future often?

      Google bought Maps, Android, Nest and many others - search is basically their only successful home grown product. If you want to know which products Google developed internally, look at those long lists of products Google has canceled. That's always the fate for stuff they come up with themselves.

      Apple bought NeXT and based macOS/iOS on it, bought FingerWorks to get the capacitive touch software that made iPhone/iPad possible, bought Siri to bring the first 'assistant' to a phone.

      If a company has to develop everything themselves to be successful, the only successful companies are those with a single product. As far as I can tell, it has never happened that a company with a single product anywhere near as successful as Google Search or Windows internally developed a SECOND product of similar success.

      Maybe seeing the future doesn't need to take place before it happens, and being the one to recognize the potential of something that others miss and deciding to become the company that takes it from a niche where it will be forgotten is also of value. Nobody would remember Xerox's GUI if Jobs hadn't seen it, "stole" it and expanded on the idea to turn it into the modern GUI. Where would Android be today without Google? It probably wouldn't even warrant an entry on Wikipedia today, rather whatever Google bought instead of Android would likely be the dominant competitor to iPhone.

      1. Waseem Alkurdi Silver badge

        Re: So which company do you think DID see the future often?

        If you want to know which products Google developed internally, look at those long lists of products Google has canceled. That's always the fate for stuff they come up with themselves.

        Fuchsia.

        1. DougS Silver badge

          Re: So which company do you think DID see the future often?

          Fuschia has not been used for anything yet, so you are YEARS too early to hold it out as a success. They still have plenty of time to cancel it, or release it and have the Android world roundly reject it so it becomes a niche used only in Pixel phones.

      2. Glen Turner 666

        Re: So which company do you think DID see the future often?

        I'd suggest that you are overlooking Apple. It had a pretty remarkable run at computers: Apple II, Macintosh, the aluminium iBook laptops (compare with the competition from Toshiba -- one is a "modern laptop" the other isn't), the iMac. All iconic.

        Then there's the non-computer products. The Newton, which although failed said "this is what the future of handheld computing will look like". The iPod, which had a revolutionary user interface and content licensing which meant you didn't need to visit the dodgier side of the Internet. The iPad, which said "this is how slabs work" and has an ease of use the competition still can't touch. Then there's the iPhone -- remember that before the iPhone that Microsoft had spent years as the best smartphone, but was irretrievably blown off that perch by the third iteration of Apple's phone. Along the way were good products in markets Apple have since left: printers and cameras.

        NeXT, whilst not a Apple product, was a Steve Jobs product. Designed by ex-Apple engineers.

        And isn't that the real concern about the future of Apple after the death of Steve Jobs -- that without his vision and drive that Apple won't see the future and won't be able to bring its considerable design skills to the product?

        1. DougS Silver badge

          Re: So which company do you think DID see the future often?

          I think one could argue that as the Macintosh's most important feature, its GUI, was based on tech from Xerox it wasn't solely an internally designed Apple product. And as I pointed out the iPhone wasn't solely internally developed either - they based its touch on acquired tech from Fingerworks and its OS/GUI on acquired tech from NeXT.

  6. This post has been deleted by its author

  7. Dan 55 Silver badge

    Not surprised MS got nowhere in mobile

    They were too busy spending about a decade fucking over mobile companies who used Symbian followed by five years wrecking their own platform, with incompatibilities between major versions.

    There wasn't an IBM mandating MS-DOS* in the mobile world so they couldn't take customers for granted, they had to actually sell products based on their merits and lost.

    * Or, in the case of MS-DOS 1.0, a shameless bought-in CP/M rip off.

  8. J J Carter Silver badge
    Trollface

    Eh?

    Everything from MSFT since Windows 2000 has been garbage and that was just a copy of VAX/VMS!

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge
      Meh

      Re: Eh?

      It went downhill after NT 3.51, at least display and printer drivers were in the right place then.

    2. BebopWeBop Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: Eh?

      Dave Cutler and other exiles from DEC were responsible for the design of NT. I remember working at HP at the time (dates me - it was a real company and properly managed then) and complaining about the lack of NT drivers for some HP hardware (a scanner and a printer I think) and being told that HP was convinced that NT was the personal OS of the future, and HP was going to make damn sure it stayed there.

      1. Richard Plinston Silver badge

        Re: Eh?

        > Dave Cutler and other exiles from DEC were responsible for the design of NT.

        And when DEC noticed that they sued MS and won a settlement alleged to be $100million plus NT running on Alpha and joint marketing.

      2. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: Eh?

        DEC - yeah, reminds me of this:

        HAL is to IBM as VMS is to WNT

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Eh?

      But what about Microsoft Edge...

      Oh, I see what you mean.

    4. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Eh?

      XP and 7 were decent enough, though there are some aspects of 7 I dislike [I think they BROKE the task launcher in 7 compared to XP's more sane way of doing it] and I really liked the stability of XP after it had been there for a few years.

      They should've stuck with that. But I guess some arrogant 4-incher millenial types *FELT* that "it was their turn now" so everything HAD to be re-invented except it was retro back to Windows 1.0 (2D FLATSO FLATTY McFLATFACE "the Metro" CRAPPY look, bright blue on blinding white, destroying the macula of everyone who looks at it for any length of time and being UNREADABLE and EYE PAINFUL to pretty much everyone over 40) and they took away customization and added in SPYWARE and ADWARE. Booooooooooo.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @Bombastic Bob - Re: Eh?

        Why stuck with XP and 7 ? MS is in the business to make money. In largest possible quantity. Giving decent software to users is secondary to their preoccupations.

  9. chivo243 Silver badge
    Windows

    Versions too!

    Please tell me he tried to stop the release of the many different versions of the same OS: Home, Pro, Ent, etc. Why?!! Why is that a thing? I get client\server builds, but more flavors than Baskin Robbins is just plain off the rails!

    1. Sandtitz Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Versions too!

      "OS: Home, Pro, Ent, etc. Why?!! Why is that a thing?"

      To make more money. Has worked pretty well for Bill so far.

  10. mark l 2 Silver badge

    I get the feeling the phone manufacturers were not keen to get on board with Microsoft supplying the OS even if they had a product that could have competed against early Android. Sure they may now regret backing the Google horse but at least if they want to they can fork Android and role there own version without Gapps. Something they wouldn't have been able to do with a MS OS.

    1. Richard Plinston Silver badge

      > they can fork Android and role there own version without Gapps.

      Actually not, according to the contract they signed to get Gapps. They are either in or out but not both.

  11. beep54
    Unhappy

    What?

    How in the hell does it turn out that I'm slightly older that Bill Gate??

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What?

      By being born before he was.

  12. Jay Lenovo Silver badge
    FAIL

    Too many heads in the trough

    Windows Phone was the first indicator (at least to Bill) that maybe his leadership was getting hopelessly out of touch with customer demand.

    It's hard in a large mega company to be innovative, without tripping on the tail of everything and everyone you've been dragging along all those years.

    Between Microsoft and the independent phone vendors, the overall mobile solution never seemed to be on the same page for very long..

    1. Sandtitz Silver badge
      Meh

      Re: Too many heads in the trough

      "Windows Phone was the first indicator (at least to Bill) that maybe his leadership was getting hopelessly out of touch with customer demand."

      Gates stepped down and gradually let go of the daily grind since 2000 or so. Perhaps for that reason?

      Steve Ballmer was the CEO when Microsoft got started with the phone business, with those Pocket PC PDA's and phones. I'm sure BG monitored it all and in the end could have vetoed anything but he seemed to trust Ballmer and a missed million or billion here or there didn't matter that much.

  13. N2 Silver badge
    Trollface

    Biggest blunders?

    Well, that'll surely be boy blunder himself: Steve Balmer, followed by Nadellas antics.

    After that, theres everything else which is mainly shyte or shuttered, once its run its 36 month lifecycle.

  14. DougS Silver badge

    Microsoft never had a chance in mobile

    Everyone was leery about getting into bed with them because they saw how they dominated the hardware manufacturers with Windows, and they didn't want the same fate. They ended up there anyway with Android, but at the time they believed Microsoft was much more evil than Google. Live and learn, I guess.

    The few who did got burned badly. Remember Sendo? No one does, because their partnership with Microsoft bankrupted them. Nokia suffered the same fate, you only remember them because of what they used to be. Their list of other partners include has beens like Motorola, Palm, Nortel and Ericcson. The only companies that survived a mobile partnership with Microsoft are LG and Verizon, but only because mobile hardware was such a small part of their overall business.

    Their other problem was they wanted so badly to tie it to Windows, and while that might be useful in the business world it was stupid and pointless for consumers. That forced a variety of dumb decisions, culminating in destroying the finally-usable GUI in Windows 7 for the abortion that was Windows 8. Google didn't have a desktop to worry about, giving them a lot of freedom to make radical changes like their quick switch from a Blackberry like device to an iPhone like device after Steve Jobs showed them the future. They were smart and realized that's where the market would go, meanwhile Steve Ballmer was laughing at iPhone and talking up the Blackberry imitating Windows Mobile.

  15. cat_mara

    The blame for this rests squarely on Gates himself...

    ... as he was the one who demanded against all reason that Windows CE had to have all the trappings of its desktop big brother, right down to the Start button, on devices with screens where this made absolutely no sense¹, all in the name of "preserving the Windows franchise". Apple may be overly precious about their user interface but even they realised that the user interface for a phone or tablet has to be different from that for a desktop computer. IIRC, the later versions of Windows Mobile started to fix this lossage but I think the damage has been done by then: Windows on portable devices just never felt right and the continuous chopping and changing made it clear that Microsoft themselves never considered it a priority.

    (¹ We'll gloss over how Microsoft then went and did the same thing arse-backwards for Windows 8, demanding against all reason that the desktop UI had to resemble that of a tablet)

  16. karlkarl Bronze badge

    Bill... Not forcing your developers to have a "developer license" would have done it.

    If you know that your software will not be runnable in ~5 years, you lose all passion.

    Basically why the XNA / XBOX-Live arcade was also underwhelming.

    A more open platform like Android will win over iOS. A more open platform than Android will win in the end too.

    Basically, don't be controlling d*cks and the developers will follow ;)

  17. Bibbit

    Biggest mistake...

    Surely Steve "Developers, developers, developers" Ballmer?

  18. Mike Lewis

    Looking back

    Bill Gates and I are the same age and, every now and then, I wonder what went wrong. I think he was, perhaps, a little too focused, a little too determined. He didn't stop often enough to look at the view or smell the flowers along the way.

  19. mevets

    sigh

    It is sad that Zune (The iPOD kille)r doesn’t even warrant a mention in the litany of bad decisions and products.

  20. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

    Gate's himself admitted that he, and MS by extension, didn't have "good taste" in the way Jobs and Apple had.

    In Windows we still have old and new GUI styles trying to work together, confusing end users. No style, no consistency. No class. Bit of a mess.

    Google falls somewhere in-between those two when it comes to design.

  21. steviebuk Silver badge

    The browser market

    Listening and watching the Bill Gates deposition lately its funny that it has been 20 years and they have yet to make a decent browser that anyone wants to use.

  22. Andrew Williams

    I would aim at Word

    The single most diabolical piece of poo ever created.

  23. MAF

    MS & music

    Cough, cough, Zune, cough....

  24. Ilgaz

    The Mistake continues on Win store

    He should just ask himself "Why can't customers install Chrome/Firefox from my own app store and at least be done with auto update UAC hacks?"

    That is the only question to be asked.

  25. Lars Silver badge
    Happy

    If cows had wings..

    .. and about last years snow.

    The greatest mistake (affecting us) Gates made was not to base Windows on a *nix kernel like Xenix.

    And one might add that attacking Linux was counterproductive too.

    As for Nokia, why did Ballmer and what was his name prevent Nokia from marketing and produce the Linux based phone they had developed.

    But why not discuss the things Gates did so well.

    I would suggest the "locking in" of vendors, customers and even states, and not too shy of offering bribes.

    1. Richard Plinston Silver badge

      Re: If cows had wings..

      > The greatest mistake (affecting us) Gates made was not to base Windows on a *nix kernel like Xenix.

      Xenix was a multiuser system running serial 'green screen' text only terminals. Initially it ran on 8086 with a limit of one megabyte (note: _not_ gigabyte). There was _no_ graphics at the time. Also it cost several hundred dollars per machine.

      When MS started writing Windows it was after DRI's GEM had been demonstrated at COMDEX running on a PC. Other graphics systems also ran on PCs.

      Windows was actually written on Xenix machines but never ran there. Developers used Xenix so they could share resources.

      > As for Nokia, why did Ballmer and what was his name prevent Nokia from marketing and produce the Linux based phone they had developed.

      MS made Nokia cancel products that were not Windows Phone. Why is that difficult to understand? Nokia did manage to release the N8 in some countries but it outsold WP so had to be killed. Same with Nokia-X (Android) when it outsold WP.

      > But why not discuss the things Gates did so well.

      Vapourware to kill the competition. Contracts that prevented competition. 'Loyalty discounts' that penalised OEMs and killed competing products. Buying competitors and killing their products. Suing over marginal patents.

      He did those things brilliantly.

      1. Lars Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: If cows had wings..

        While I agree with you I am a bit puzzled about the "Xenix was a multiuser system running serial 'green screen' text only terminals.".

        What do you thing a nix* kernel does, and is supposed to do.

        MS bought Xenix and Gates had plans but went for the quick and dirty.

        Perhaps, then again, his best decision, personally.

        At least he got the money while we got the landfill.

        1. Richard Plinston Silver badge

          Re: If cows had wings..

          > While I agree with you I am a bit puzzled about the "Xenix was a multiuser system running serial 'green screen' text only terminals.".

          What puzzles you? Are you puzzled about what 'multiuser' is or what 'green screen terminals' are?

          I was illustrating why Xenix was not suitable for running Windows (in 1982).

          Later, serial graphics terminals did become available, and I have run Windows 3.11 on multiuser systems.

          1. Lars Silver badge
            Happy

            Re: If cows had wings..

            A nix* kernel doesn't incorporate a graphical user interface, that part is done on top of the kernel.

            The choice Gates had was to write Windows on top of a nix* kernel like Xenix, that would have created a very different Windows. To quote MS "the company stated in 1981.[8] Microsoft referred to its own MS-DOS as its "single-user, single-tasking operating s ystem",[31] and advised customers that wanted multiuser or multitasking support to buy Xenix".

            In fact such a Windows would have become very similar to any Linux distro, a nix* kernel with the GUI like Gnome or KDE or ..., but be called Windows. Such a Windows would compete with Linux on supercomputers.

            I don't want to sound rude or something but I started programming before Gates and Jobs and I have been able to live the history of both Windows and Unix and older stuff.

            We are where we are and things happened for various reasons, now in the past, but that doesn't stop us from playing with the "what if ..".

            *

            1. Richard Plinston Silver badge

              Re: If cows had wings..

              > A nix* kernel doesn't incorporate a graphical user interface, that part is done on top of the kernel.

              And so was the original Windows (and GEM). In fact Windows 1 could be used as a set of libraries that could be linked into a program by the developer so that it could run on MS-DOS without Windows installed. GEM could do the same.

              > The choice Gates had was to write Windows on top of a nix* kernel like Xenix,

              That would not have been a sensible choice for many reasons, the main one being that 'green screen terminals' couldn't do graphics. While later *nix did do graphics they relied on X11 or similar which was l years later. Xenix was also an expensive option that required royalties to be paid to AT&T, too expensive to reduce it to single user on a machine with built in graphics capability, such as the relatively cheap IBM PC.

              Also he wanted to compete against Apple II and Mac, DRI's GEM, and other small machine rather than going upmarket to workstation class machines such as Star or PERQ which had limited market potential. As he didn't build hardware (except Z80 Softcard) he needed to sell lots of copies to make a profit.

              > a nix* kernel with the GUI like Gnome or KDE

              Actual Unix had these before Linux did with CDE that was built on X11 and Motif. If MS built hardware it may have gone down that route so that it could sell expensive machines and X-terminals and make a profit from the hardware like the CDE developers (IBM, HP, ...) wanted to do.

              Xenix on 8086 (or even 80286) wasn't powerful enough to do workstation or multiuser graphics, and was too expensive to do single-user, and was too big to fit on a cheap(ish) IBM-PC. It just wasn't an option that would make a profit for MS.

              > I don't want to sound rude or something but I started programming before Gates and Jobs

              Be rude for all I care. I started in the 60s and still have machines here in my basement from the mid 70s through to the present day.

            2. Richard Plinston Silver badge

              Re: If cows had wings..

              > Microsoft referred to its own MS-DOS as its "single-user, ...

              When NT was being written it was initially designed as a multiuser system, just as Cutler's Prism had been. Gates told them to remove this because he didn't want to sell one copy to be shared by several users, he wanted to sell a copy to every user.

              Later he 'stole' Citrix's multiuser add on to creatre TSE on the basis that he could sell a copy for each user's client machines and _also_ sell a multiuser TSE for the server(s).

              It is all about how much revenue can be sucked from his customers.

  26. Danny Boyd
    Unhappy

    Those who do - make mistakes. Sometimes costly. Those who don't - don't. BillG was a true leader, mistakes or not. His followers (Ballmer and Nadela) are but objects of sorrowful contemplation. <Sigh.> Murphy's Law: what can get screwed up, gets screwed up.

  27. 89724102172714182892114I7551670349743096734346773478647892349863592355648544996312855148587659264921 Bronze badge

    I don't see what Bill Gates is bitching about because it's not too late. That much of Android is Open Source is a threat to Google and an opportunity for Microsoft because they could run Android apps through a compatibility layer on their own Android-like OS; given the CPU grunt available on flagships these days, users won't see too much of a drop in speed. Get on with it Bill.

    p.s. I hate Microsoft and hope Bill doesn't do this.

    p.p.s. Satya, selling Nokia was a dumb move.

    p.p.p.s. NEVER 10!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    1. Richard Plinston Silver badge

      > p.p.s. Satya, selling Nokia was a dumb move.

      It was only the phone division that was sold to MS.

      It had made a loss every quarter in spite of MS giving it a billion a year (or up to ..)

      MS gave them 7 billion for it (wasn't it?).

      What was dumb was agreeing to MS's contract to make Windows Phones. The rest followed from that.

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