Rupert Goodwins' Diary

Thursday 13/1/2005Nice to see that Apple can still show Microsoft how to do it. Imagine the global scorn if Bill had pulled out a USB key drive with no display and a headphone socket during his CES keynote -- but Steve Jobs effortlessly deploys his reality distortion field and the world falls at his feet.

Thursday 13/1/2005
Nice to see that Apple can still show Microsoft how to do it. Imagine the global scorn if Bill had pulled out a USB key drive with no display and a headphone socket during his CES keynote -- but Steve Jobs effortlessly deploys his reality distortion field and the world falls at his feet. If you haven't seen the video, you should: this is how it's done. As for the Mac mini: unexpandable collection of last year's laptop parts or brilliant attack on the Windows homeland? We'd love to tell you, but on past experience Apple will have no interest in getting review kit to the willing fingers of writer chappies. So you and we will have to work that one out together.

However, Bill Gates has been doing his best to help Apple on its way. Not only did the CES keynote go wrong, but the man got it into his head to pronounce open source promoters as communistic enemies of freedom (they've probably all got green laser pointers, too). There is plenty of irony here, as all of Microsoft's competitors have far more advanced open source strategies in place for the finest of capitalistic reasons -- as far as I can tell, Microsoft and SCO are the last ones left. And even SCO distributed Linux. Does Gates really mean to say that he alone is the keeper of the American way, with IBM, HP and Apple due to go before the Un-American Activities Committee?

I sometimes find it difficult to triage ridiculous statements made by the famous into stuff they actually believe, stuff they don't actually believe but are saying to fortify the faithful, and stuff they don't actually believe but are saying to enrage the enemy. (It's particularly difficult when I'm trying to parse things Steve Ballmer says when he's let out on his own).

In this case, I think that Gates is saying this because he believes it, and he believes it because he can't see how IP has value for its creators when it's freed. Because he can't see that, he can't see how Microsoft can play that game. So therefore the game as normally construed is wrong, and he can best win by doing it his way despite the grinding of gears at the interface between Bill and Reality. It's worked before: does anyone think Microsoft's really been hurt by the various antitrust findings against them?

I do wonder how deep this goes. Recently, MS' attempts to contribute to anti-spam standards foundered because the company refused -- at Gates' personal behest, according to rumour -- to relinquish licensing controls over its IP, and nobody could say why this was so difficult for them.

This time, though, it's Microsoft versus the whole world. I wouldn't put money on it, either way.

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