Is Bill Gates a secret cloud convert?

Is Bill Gates a secret cloud convert?

Summary: In Bill Gates' final week on Microsoft's full-time payroll, he seems to be dropping hints that he's starting to realize that cloud is a better way of doing many of the things Microsoft always used to try and do on discrete servers and clients.

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I know I'm reading too much into this, but let's have a bit of fun in Bill Gates' final week on Microsoft's full-time payroll. He seems to be dropping hints that he's starting to realize that cloud is a better way of doing many of the things Microsoft always used to try and do on discrete servers and clients.

Bill Gates, founder of MicrosoftThe firmest clue comes as a result of journalist Todd Bishop unearthing an "email rant" that Gates wrote in January 2003 after attempting to download and install the video editing product Windows Movie Maker. Read the email in full for an uplifting sense of schadenfreude at the blow-by-blow account that led Gates to berate Windows product chief Jim Allchin with this withering conclusion:

"So after more than an hour of craziness and making my programs list garbage and being scared and seeing that Microsoft.com is a terrible website I haven't run Moviemaker and I haven't got the plus package. The lack of attention to usability represented by these experiences blows my mind."

More telling, though, is Gates' response to a follow-up question posed by Bishop last week:

"I showed Gates a printout of the e-mail and asked if he ever got Movie Maker to work. Gates noted that Microsoft plans to include Movie Maker as part of Windows Live, so people will get the program when they download that online package."

Effectively, what Gates seems to be saying is, never mind installing the product, run it from the cloud instead. Or, parsing it another way, maybe the message is, only our cloud people (aka the Live team) are capable of doing this right.

Gates also seems to be looking to the cloud to finally fulfill one of his longstanding aspirations, as Mary Jo Foley noted earlier this week, quoting part of an interview Gates did with former PC Magazine Editor Michael Miller:

"(T)here is a famous quest of mine called integrated storage, where you have not just a file system but more of a very flexible object-type database: things like your contacts, calendars, favorites, your photos, your music—how you rate those things are stored in a much more structured environment. And so they can be navigated easily and move between applications very easily. And that hasn’t happened. It will happen as part of the move to cloud storage."

What's your take? Is Gates a secret cloud convert, or have I been drinking too much of my own Kool-Aid again?

Topics: Operating Systems, Collaboration, Software, Windows

Phil Wainewright

About Phil Wainewright

Since 1998, Phil Wainewright has been a thought leader in cloud computing as a blogger, analyst and consultant.

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13 comments
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  • He doesn't say use it in the cloud

    He doesn't say use it in the cloud, he said it is with the Windows Live download which includes lots and lots of non-cloud based programs, windows live writer for instance.
    Kinlan
    • Yes, he says get it from the cloud ...

      ... so I guess the implication is that the product guys never did manage to work out how to set up user-friendly downloads. It took the cloud guys to do it.

      Ergo, is Bill saying all software should be run either in the cloud or managed from the cloud? If he is, that's a different ethos from the one that has prevailed at Microsoft throughout his tenure.
      phil wainewright
      • Re: Yes, he says get it from the cloud ...

        [Replied to my comment by mistake]

        A user friendly download doesn't mean cloud services, it may just mean that the cloud team made a good download product, which may or may not be cloud based.

        From what he said it appears to me that all along he wanted a good piece of install software that "just worked".

        I may be wrong, I am in lots of cases. I predicted that Microsoft would never make a .Net based Dev kit for the Xbox 360..... How wrong was I! :)
        Kinlan
  • RE: Is Bill Gates a secret cloud convert?

    A user friendly download doesn't mean cloud services, it may just mean that the cloud team made a good download product, which may or may not be cloud based.

    From what he said it appears to me that all along he wanted a good piece of install software that "just worked".

    I may be wrong, I am in lots of cases. I predicted that Microsoft would never make a .Net based Dev kit for the Xbox 360..... How wrong was I! :)
    Kinlan
  • Originally the "Internet" was going to be the "Microsoft Network"

    and he's talking the same rubbish again. Microsoft will do as Microsoft do, slap a load of software together, release it at pre-alpha quality, and do their utmost to pretend that the whole idea was theirs to begin with.
    fr0thy2
  • Gates believe in using the cloud to complement, not replace the client

    See interview [url=http://tinyurl.com/5wdx5l]here[/url].
    P. Douglas
  • Your drinking too much of your own Kool-Aid

    Gates has had plans for connected systems and cloud computing for the last 15 years or so. If anything we are not as far along today as where he thought we would be over a decade ago. He didn't become the world's richest man and one of the most successful entrepreneurs of our time without having some foresight in the future computing market.
    Cloud Developer
  • What drug are you on?

    "...Effectively, what Gates seems to be saying is, never mind installing the product, run it from the cloud instead. Or, parsing it another way, maybe the message is, only our cloud people (aka the Live team) are capable of doing this right.."

    So having incompetent desktop software deployment people automatically means cloud computing is the way to go? That's a stretch.

    How about I use your brand of logic and conclude that if the cloud computing infatuation wasn't sucking up programming resources the quality of desktop software would be better!
    croberts
  • Is this eulogy?

    Did Bill convert to a cloud?
    anonymous
  • The Road Ahead?

    Great post, Phil, very astute! BG obviously recognizes that a lot of day-to-day computing is moving to the cloud. However the resident OSes and desktop tools are MS's multi-billion-$ cash cow. Problem is, MS will have to compete against itself if it embraces cloud computing. Tough for any business to do.
    joemckendrick
  • RE: Is Bill Gates a secret cloud convert?

    There have been many public comments by Microsoft about the growing prominence of cloud based computing, and much of Microsoft's bandwidth has devoted about making that possible and viable (just read what Ray Ozzie and Craig Mundie have to say on the topic.)
    jpelak
  • RE: Is Bill Gates a secret cloud convert?

    I think Bill Gates has always been interested in "the cloud" because he has always been interested in the most cutting edge technology. But as your recent article about Ex-Googler Sergey Solyanik shows, he has established, and rightly so, an environment of profitablity at Microsoft. Apple is cooler, open source is cheaper, but none are better. Let's face it. If there was better, the best businesses in the world would use it. And if the best were using it, the next best would start to keep up, and then the smallest business and so on until the home users were on board because that is they were using at work. We can complain about Microsoft until the cows come home for all of the acceptable reasons but in the end they are still the best and will move slowly into the enterprise capabale waters of cutting edge technology.
    c.w.francis@...
  • Antitrust Solution?

    I tend to believe this is part of an effort within MS to trim down what they put into the retail distribution. This wpould cut down on the anti-trust issues they always run into with different 3rd part software makers. Why Apple never got targeted in the same manner baffles me. They have a much more feature rich bundled software package.
    geier