Bill Gates Trying to Console Computer Users by Deliberately Misleading Them and Lying to Them

March 4, 2004

I watched most of an interview with Bill Gates on Charlie Rose on PBS last night. I found myself frequently shaking my head and chuckling, the same way I shake my head and chuckle at the 'Decoding the Great Pyramid' book I am reading. Some of what he said was interesting, while some of it he was touting as a great wonderful thing, though it was in fact really scary—especially if you ask one of our resident conspiracy theorists. For example, your computer will become so small, so powerful, and so ubiquitous, and it will develop the ability to understand and anticipate your needs (thanks to Microsoft software), and be able to communicate readily with computers and systems everywhere that you will be able to get any information from anywhere as you want it, wherever you are. Coupling this with the fact that your computer will be able to see and hear, this potentially means that your computer could readily report you to your boss for watching, say, bondage porn, with your spouse in the privacy of your own home. I'm sure that the potential for such things goes much further than that. Of course, Gates only commented on things like setting the music in the room to your personal preference and adjusting the art on the various plasma screens we all have in every room of our homes...

He also commented on how great it is that Microsoft, through the Gates Foundation has gotten computers into 18,000 libraries, and this is very important (which it is) and that no one else has made an effort to do something like this.

He commented on Longhorn—the oft touted replacement for windows, which sounds, from his description, like a combination between OS X and OpenDOC, but is something that has never been attempted in the history of computing—an interface that will dynamically change based on the content you are editing (like Claris Works) and seamlessly allow you to work with multiple elements in a document or presentation without having to switch applications and hope that the applications you are using will interface with each other. Maybe this is more like the SOUP... So, once again, Microsoft is going to be the first to do something innovative 8-10 years after someone else did it and have a smash hit for their brilliant innovation.

And when asked about open-source, he spoke for about 4 minutes and didn't make any sense. On the one hand, he said that there has always been and always will be free software, but that free software is never competitive with purchased software, and that nothing can replace the relationship between a manufacturer and a customer, and that with every new release of software from Microsoft, all consumers immediately want it because the great improvements in productivity that the new software can generate far exceeds the license costs. This doesn't make sense on several counts.

The other thing that Gates talked about was security, and how security and privacy was their primary goal currently at Microsoft. He said that if he had a time machine, one of the things he would want to do for Microsoft is get started on security as an issue earlier, so that their system could be more secure and stable, because they just didn't realize that it was an issue. How could they not realize it was an issue? It gets press coverage, in fact it gets press coverage that points out that if you are using Linux or Mac OS its not an issue, its only an issue if you're using Windows/IE/Outlook. Statements like this make it highly evident that Microsoft has no interest in the wants or needs of its clients, only an interest in what they want their clients to do (which is distinctly different from what their clients want to do). He also pointed out how technology was clearly the answer to dealing with spam, and that Microsoft was developing a technology to be used in their email client to allow the clear and reliable identification of the users, so that you could identify who you wanted and allow them access to send you email and that other mail would be blocked. Sounds interesting, right? Well, earlier and again later in the interview, he discussed the paradigm shift that is occurring within the consumer market, where consumers are blocking marketing messages because they don't want them, and how people use TiVO (sp?) to record their television shows so that they can skip commercials—or even have them removed from the program before you watch it. because of this shift, Microsoft is working with legitimate marketers to ensure that their messages are delivered to suckers (read customers) despite this technology. However, he also said that Microsoft is working on technology for 'set-top units'—like TiVO to help consumers receive the information (shows) they want or that they would be interested in, while eliminating the clutter and time wasting elements within those shows (ads). So, Microsoft is going to try to play both sides of the fence. First, make sure everyone (read everyone who matters) is using the Microsoft TV, the Microsoft Game System, the Microsoft set-Top Unit, and the Microsoft Internet package. This way, the marketers who pay Microsoft for permission to send spam or to otherwise advertise to people will be able to send their 'legitimate marketing messages' and the rest will be blocked. As a marketer, not only do you now have to pay to create an ad, and then pay to place it, you also have to pay Microsoft to not prevent its delivery...

He also spoke briefly about computerized, intelligent, thinking cars with Microsoft software - brings a whole new meaning to the phrase "Here's where you will go today."