In his own words: Bill Gates' best quotes

"We will never make a 32-bit operating system"...

"We will never make a 32-bit operating system"...

As the world's most famous tech boss, Bill Gates has been quoted more times than you can shake a stick at - but there have been some particularly insightful, bold and wide of the mark comments that stand out. Here's's pick of the best:

The early days…

"There's nobody getting rich writing software that I know of."

Did he honestly believe that? From an interview in 80 Microcomputing (1980).


"We will never make a 32-bit operating system."

…until Microsoft launched the 32-bit OS, Windows NT 3.1 in 1993, that is (speaking at the launch of MSX in 1989).

"Spam will be a thing of the past in two years' time."

Gates made this bold and ultimately wrong prediction to the BBC in 2004.

On getting it wrong…

"Sometimes we do get taken by surprise. For example, when the internet came along, we had it as a fifth or sixth priority. It wasn't like somebody told me about it and I said, 'I don't know how to spell that', I said, 'Yeah, I've got that on my list, so I'm okay'. But there came a point when we realised it was happening faster and was a much deeper phenomenon than had been recognised in our strategy."

Perhaps a clue as to how Google gained its online market lead? From a speech at the University of Washington, reported by CNET (1998).

"I have to say that in 1981, making those decisions, I felt like I was providing enough freedom for 10 years. That is, a move from 64k to 640k felt like something that would last a great deal of time. Well, it didn't - it took about only six years before people started to see that as a real problem."

Gates reveals how even he didn't see how quickly things would change. A 1989 speech on the history of the microcomputer industry.

On Microsoft…

"Microsoft looks at new ideas, they don't evaluate whether the idea will move the industry forward, they ask, 'how will it help us sell more copies of Windows?'"

Gates' competitive streak comes through in an article in The Seattle Weekly (1998).

"Microsoft has had clear competitors in the past. It's a good thing we have museums to document that."

Speech at the Computer History Museum, InfoWorld magazine (2001).

On success...

"Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can't lose."

Gates suggests he won't rest on his laurels. From Gates' book, The Road Ahead (1995).

"I wish I wasn't [the richest man in the world]. There's nothing good that comes out of that. You get more visibility as a result of it."

There must be a few benefits surely? As quoted in The Guardian (2006).

On religion...

"Just in terms of allocation of time resources, religion is not very efficient. There's a lot more I could be doing on a Sunday morning."

Time magazine, 1997.