Outrage at Gates' knighthood

Talkback: The honorary knighthood awarded to Bill Gates by the Queen is about as popular with ZDNet UK readers as the Blue Screen Of Death
Written by ZDNet UK, Contributor on
Bill Gates may be the richest man in the world, but he is obviously not completely fulfilled -- at least, not until Wednesday, when he finally became a Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. He picked up the gong from the Queen earlier today at Buckingham Palace.

The award, for "his outstanding contribution to enterprise," was actually announced -- and criticised -- last year, but many readers still had plenty of spleen left to vent today.

Perhaps she should have sent him to the Tower instead: Microsoft is a convicted monopolist, as software engineer Chris Rankin pointed out: "Bill Gates' business practices have violated antitrust laws in both Europe and the US. This is not something for which he should be honoured in any shape or form." An anonymous reader added "Bill Gates should be imprisoned for Microsoft's business practices, not knighted."

No, tell us what you really mean… "Microsoft has done more than any other company to hold back the development of IT solutions the world over," said Matt Webber. "They have clearly shown with their Internet Explorer software that their aim is to extinguish competition, then drip-feed product updates from their monopoly to the world charging them for the privilege every time. And how did they extinguish competition? By the use of illegal business practices."

If the Queen had listened to our readers, she would probably have had him beheaded: One anonymous reader blamed Gates for harm done by worms, Trojans and viruses caused by "MS' shoddy products and lack of security", and castigated him for the "lost productivity due to MS' difficult, labour intensive maintenance and egregious interoperability with competing tools."

Comparing him to the leader of Al-Qaeda, one reader reckons Gates's harm "exceeds the economic damage caused by the real Osama bin Laden."

"What Gates and his company did between 1993-1998 was a crime, pure and simple. He and his flunkies took a healthy, wealthy, competitive market that was good for everybody and crushed it with OEM agreements, giveaways and secret APIs. This is an established truth from the US trial statement of facts."

Some of you were cynical but brief. "He's a friend of Tony Blair, another corrupt individual, so no surprise there," said lab technician Peter Mitchell.

A number of you commented that it devalues the knighthoods received by other worthy pioneers (such as World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee and Clive Sinclair). "What rubbish. That surely devalues the present and past holders of knighthoods. He's a black knight for sure," said managing director Peter Harding, who went on to suggest another title: 'computer systems dictator'".

Other readers said they were put off the whole idea of getting a knighthood: "It's a bit like giving a Nobel Prize for Peace to G.W. Bush. It just takes away the shine," said engineer Gerard ter Beke. "I wouldn't want to be knighted anymore (not that it was about to happen :-)."

Wait a minute though, we did get one positive comment. We were deeply honoured to receive a Talkback comment from a Mr George W. Bush: "Well done the Queen, Well done Bill. Long live the Empire and all who sail in her." However, it is possible that this grammatically correct message did not come from the real President Bush.

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