In a 1995 memo titled “The Internet Tidal Wave”, Bill Gates tells Microsoft executives that the internet, which he then considered to be the the most important technological development since the personal computer in 1981, is to become the company’s primary focus.
One scary possibility being discussed by Internet fans is whether they should get together and create something far less expensive than a PC which is powerful enough for Web browsing. This new platform would optimize for the datatypes on the Web. Gordon Bell and others approached Intel on this and decided Intel didn’t care about a low cost device so they started suggesting that General Magic or another operating system with a non-Intel chip is the best solution.
Just when I was eagerly anticipating the third of the Bill Gates and Jerry Seinfeld TV ads, word has it Microsoft has decided to can the undoubtedly well received series. I have no choice but to buy a MacBook now…
Microsoft’s version of the story: Redmond had always planned to drop Seinfeld. The awkward reality: The ads only reminded us how out of touch with consumers Microsoft is – and that Bill Gates’s company has millions of dollars to waste on hiring a has-been funnyman to keep him company.
I have to say my reaction to the Bill Gates and Jerry Seinfeld series of Microsoft TV ads has also been along the lines of “I don’t get it”, but see now the real plot and intentions…
The less than cogent ads are in fact part of an effort to re-frame the discussion about Microsoft. That actually works for me, because there’s no way those ads would, for example, convince me to migrate to Vista.
A persona isn’t established by one commercial. Critics of the Gates/Seinfeld program are missing the point. After all, “Seinfeld” the TV show didn’t become a lasting cultural force in the United States after a few episodes. Microsoft is off to a good start with this new persona-building. But here’s the real challenge: for Microsoft to have its products, processes and people authentically reflect the smart-ironic nerd concept it has successfully gotten people to talk about this week. Like “Seinfeld,” that’ll take years, too.
The future according to Bill Gates.
Bill Gates shows us how easy it is too be wise in hindsight.
He predicted computer users would soon throw out the keyboard and mouse in favour of interacting with the PC using hand gestures, and envisioned a world where computers were built into the furniture and far easier to use.
I was somewhat underwhelmed by his keynote at the Consumer Electronics Show. That’s what happens of course when you go forever taking soothsayers at their word…