Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Things we have learned from Bill Gates

While I was in Seattle, I managed to visit several attractions. Space Needle, Museum of Flight, Puget Sound, Pike Place Market (the Alaskan crabs were yummy), Boeing and of course Bill Gates office.

The amazing view of snow capped Mt Rainier from the top of space Needle had lasting impact. I spent two days, one day from sunset to midnite there to catch the beautiful scenery.

But I did not have the opportunity to knock on the mansion of richest nerd on earth, just looked from afar. It took seven years to build the 40,000-square-foot mansion on a wooded five-acre compound in the moneyed Seattle suburb of Medina.
[Bill Gates House Address: 1835 73rd Ave NE, Medina, WA 98039 map - arial photo] Much of the Bill Gates house is built underground into the hill, so the house looks smaller than it actually is.

Whether or not you're a fan of Bill Gates, it's impossible to deny the role he has played in spreading computer technology across the planet during the past three decades. His retirement as a full-time Microsoft employee in June 2008 marked the end of an era -- and it's one worth looking back on.
This Sanity Savers for I-T executives discusses the five of the most important lessons we've learned from the meteoric and often turbulent career of the world's most famous IT professional.

Number 5: Geeks can be businessmen, too

Before Bill Gates came along, computer programmers were mostly considered to be a necessary evil. They were stereotyped as misanthropic weirdos, and they were stuck away in dark corners of the back office.

But then Gates became the most successful businessman on earth -- if you judge business success by profits -- and almost single-handedly transformed the term "geek" from an insult to a badge of honor.

Number four: You don't have to be first to win

Gates and Microsoft rarely got to the party first with new technologies, but they were better at bringing their products to the masses than anyone else in the industry. Internet Explorer is the most famous example, but Microsoft Windows, Word, and Excel are also great examples. Microsoft was simply better at executing a business plan, and that's why Microsoft software is now the industry standard.

It didn't hurt that Microsoft often had the most resources, but Gates and company showed over and over again that they knew how to best take advantage of those resources.

Number 3: Computing will spread everywhere

In the 1980s, when the computer was still mostly a novelty, Gates expressed his vision that there would one day be "a computer on every business desk and in every home." That vision has nearly come true in the United States, and it's likely to become a reality that will spread across the globe in the decades ahead.

Gates vision of the computing experience has continued to inspire the industry in general as well as Microsoft's product plans -- from the smartphone to the Tablet PC to speech recognition to the touch-based interface.

Number 2: Arrogance breeds failure

In the movie Pirates of Silicon Valley, the Bill Gates character says to Steve Ballmer, "Success is a menace. It fools smart people into thinking that they can't lose."

He was referring to IBM and the fact that it let Microsoft sneak in and steal its thunder in the launch of the PC. Ironically, a decade later, Microsoft's own success and arrogance led to its anti-trust defeat to the U.S. government.

But Microsoft also remained on the lookout for the next small company that might do to it what it had done to IBM. Some of the most popular targets in its cross hairs: Apple, Netscape, Linux, and Google.

Number 1: Software matters

The one message that Bill Gates spent his career reiterating was that software matters. Gates and Microsoft always believed in the magic of software to create amazing digital experiences.

When Microsoft first launched in the 1970s, the computer business was all about the hardware. It was Gates and his vision of what people could do with computers that moved software to the center of the computing experience.

Bill Gates has had a tremendous influence on the direction and advancement of computer technology over the past 30 years. And although his era is coming to an end at Microsoft, we've discussed the five most important lessons that the technology industry has learned from his vision and accomplishments.
One thing I learned from Bill Gates - monopoly does pay and make people very very rich! I wrote a cerpen on Gates legacy back in 1998 - Khemah Penggodam