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Bill Gates's The Road Ahead, 15 Years Later

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the answer-unclear-try-again dept.

Books 280

smooth wombat writes "It's been 15 years since Bill Gates wrote his book The Road Ahead, in which he talks about how technology would shape the future. In the intervening years, technology has changed many aspects of our lives for better and worse. So how did Bill do on his predictions? The Atlantic takes a look at the hits and misses of some of his prognostications. Overall, it appears Bill let optimism guide his thoughts, except when it came to the Internet — his biggest miss of all."

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Microsoft best innovation. (4, Interesting)

ls671 (1122017) | more than 4 years ago | (#32295244)

I feel like Microsoft has never developed a key software innovation and is not that good at predictions. I guess a lot of people feel the same as me. They are excellent at marketing their products and at keeping a healthy business although.

I searched Google with the terms "Microsoft innovation" and "Microsoft best innovation" to try to prove myself wrong but I did not find anything. Try it for yourself.

The best innovation from Microsoft I could think of is DOS, but it was originally written to IBM specs then Microsoft recycled it into MS-DOS which is more a profiting after the fact attitude.

So here we go slashdotters: What is the best innovation Microsoft has brought to us and/or which Microsoft prophecy turned out to be the best prediction ?

http://www.dwheeler.com/innovation/microsoft.html [dwheeler.com]

Re:Microsoft best innovation. (4, Funny)

Pop69 (700500) | more than 4 years ago | (#32295344)

See, the problem is you're searching on Google.

Try Bing, I'm sure it will be full of wonderful Microsoft innovations

Re:Microsoft best innovation. (-1, Troll)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#32295382)

Bing and Google actually both give pretty much the same results. Bing itself was innovative from Microsoft, even so far that Google copied Bing's sidebar from them, and Bing was the first one to demonstrate and introduce real-time 3D video mapped into street view.

As far as for the GP;

They are excellent at marketing their products and at keeping a healthy business although.

But this is true for every large corporation. Actually even more so for Apple, who haven't actually done much else than polished BSD and open source projects. Microsoft still spends millions into R&D while Apple does nothing like that. Google isn't really that innovative either. They're different, sure, but any larger "innovation" they've done has come from smaller companies they have bought (Maps, Earth, YouTube and so on).

I think Courier was quite innovative. Visual Studio per se probably isn't innovative, but it's a really stable product and better than anything else on the market. Microsoft also used to publish great and also innovative games (why not anymore?)

While some large corporations do R&D, it's almost always the small startups that are the most innovative ones. It's also obvious why - they can take some risks, and while most of them fail, some of them come out with a great idea. Large companies cant afford taking that kind of risks and losing.

Re:Microsoft best innovation. (4, Insightful)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#32295514)

Visual Studio per se probably isn't innovative, but it's a really stable product and better than anything else on the market. Microsoft also used to publish great and also innovative games (why not anymore?)

You hit VS right on the head - it's not really anything new, but the features that they add to each version are usually pretty rock solid in their implementation. Not a whole other suites were offering LINQ - but they were there. Microsoft just made it easier to use those kinds of features.

As for the games, its a lot like their web content. Most of the games Microsoft has made have been other dev studios being purchased or bought out or simply backed by Microsoft. Microsoft put their name on Halo, even though it was Bungie's work. They also have their name on the Age of Empires, though that was ensemble studios. Perhaps the only one I can think of that was MS was Microsoft's Flight Simulator.

As for innovation, perhaps people shouldn't be expecting it from these large companies. In essence, a lot of the newer technologies today come from some super intelligent geek who has a dream to make it real. So once they get out of MIT or wherever, they start their project, demo it at TED or some festival, than they either get picked up by one of these corporations or their idea gets stolen.

Re:Microsoft best innovation. (1)

gorzek (647352) | more than 4 years ago | (#32295552)

Microsoft probably got out of PC gaming because it's so competitive and they don't have a monopoly there. Consoles are *much* more profitable, if you can produce a popular one.

Re:Microsoft best innovation. (3, Insightful)

negRo_slim (636783) | more than 4 years ago | (#32295748)

Considering Direct X is the foundation upon which their gaming (and increasingly home entertainment divisions) are built upon I find the idea 'got out of PC gaming' absurd. Also consoles are not profitable, it's the software that run on them where the money lies.

Re:Microsoft best innovation. (3, Informative)

gorzek (647352) | more than 4 years ago | (#32295856)

I think you misunderstood me. Gaming has, by and large, moved to consoles. Microsoft has largely exited the PC gaming market--period. They axed the Flight Simulator team, and I can't recall a PC game produced by Microsoft within the last few years. They've concentrated their efforts on the XBox family.

And no kidding, they don't make money on the consoles. They still collect money for every game sold, plus the XBox Live subscription fees, plus download sales. It's a far more profitable model than developing and publishing PC games.

Re:Microsoft best innovation. (3, Informative)

ID000001 (753578) | more than 4 years ago | (#32295660)

I will have to disagree. The side bar have been in various beta states on Google for over 2 years, That is before Bing even went public.

Re:Microsoft best innovation. (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32295974)

Bing and Google actually both give pretty much the same results.

Yes, if you are searching for "Britney Spears". If you are remotely interested in searching for something not mundane, guess what? Google owns Bing. Sorry.

Bing itself was innovative from Microsoft, even so far that Google copied Bing's sidebar from them,

Oh my God. Stop the presses. Now. So, this is innovation just like putting a nice background over the search bar right? Are you for real? No really, do you think two seconds before you post some garbage? I guess no Apple/Google threads to troll today. Do you want to remove your lips from Ballmer's cock for one second?

But this is true for every large corporation. Actually even more so for Apple, who haven't actually done much else than polished BSD and open source projects.

Oh shit, I knew it was coming. Another Apple troll by Ballmer's Cock Jock. Nice try, you failed. So iPhone OS and iDevices are "not much"? Sure, that's why everyone and their dogs are scrambling to copy it and improve upon. AppStore - iTunes eco system. Oops, no innovation right? Fucking christ sopssa, ever read your own posts before hitting submit?

Microsoft still spends millions into R&D while Apple does nothing like that.

Are you fucking dense? Hint hint, read this [corporate-ir.net] . Note the 2008 date? Note the 11000 hires for R&D. Note the 1.1 billion $ cost of it? Sure, Apple just sucks on Ballmer's cock and Ballmer gives them all the cool stuff right?

Google isn't really that innovative either.

Did you bother watching Google I/O presentation the last two days? Ever tried Gmail or other Google apps?

I think Courier was quite innovative.

A copied device using a touch screen with a copied operating system. Very innovative.

Visual Studio per se probably isn't innovative, but it's a really stable product and better than anything else on the market.

Using that logic, hey, Google Search isn't really innovative, but dude, it's the best thing on the market.

Microsoft also used to publish great and also innovative games

Dungeon Siege? Aka Diablo II ripoff? Or Halo? Aka random FPS like millions of others? Sure. Innovation! Oh wait, no, they bought those companies or got in an exclusive contract. Innovation? Lay down the crack pipe, and Ballmer's cock.

Jeebus fucking Christ, what a troll, and of course sockpuppets and idiot moderators are giving this douche +5 insightful. Good job moderators! Good job!

Re:Microsoft best innovation. (1)

EvanED (569694) | more than 4 years ago | (#32296424)

Yes, if you are searching for "Britney Spears". If you are remotely interested in searching for something not mundane, guess what? Google owns Bing. Sorry.

I only occasionally try Bing, but from what I've seen, it's true. (That's why I only occasionally use Bing.)

I really wish that there were a second roughly-Google-quality search engine out there, but I haven't seen one. (I'm also not predisposed to wish that MS wasn't it, unlike many /.ers.)

I like Bing maps more than Google maps in a few respects, but that's about the only thing I go to Bing for.

Re:Microsoft best innovation. (1)

miggyb (1537903) | more than 4 years ago | (#32296340)

Microsoft still spends millions into R&D while Apple does nothing like that.

This is where I stopped reading.

Re:Microsoft best innovation. (4, Interesting)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | more than 4 years ago | (#32295352)

DOS is not a great innovation. DOS, like most Microsoft products, is just a rework of someone's earlier innovation. If there is innovation there it's in how they adapted well established systems (like CP/M and, even earlier, BASIC) from Mainframe and Mini computers to much less powerful PCs and home computers. Bill Gates is good at that, but he by no means has been an inventor. At best he's dumbed down many of the best computer innovations so he can get them through the front door of offices and homes.

Re:Microsoft best innovation. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32295522)

EVERYTHING is like that though.

Ever hear the phrase Standing on the Shoulder of Giants?!?!

Nothing in Math, or Physics, or Medicine has ever been done 'from scratch'.

I am so sick of hearing this negative shit because /.ers are miserable fucking people!!! STFU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Re:Microsoft best innovation. (3, Insightful)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 4 years ago | (#32295566)

> EVERYTHING is like that though.

Except some people have a habit of denying this. Microsoft is notorious for this.

That's why Slashbots give them so much sh*t. They deserve it for being such plagarists.

Re:Microsoft best innovation. (2, Insightful)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 4 years ago | (#32296368)

No, Apple are, without a doubt, the jedi fucking masters on that front. Listening to a Steve Jobs keynote is like being the head catcher at a bullshit tossing contest. Every product they release is REVOLUTIONARY, every new line is the light bulb and Steve Jobs and is Thomas Edison himself. Listening to him intro the iPhone, you'd think there was no such thing as a mobile phone before the iPhone came along. If the audience wasn't filled with such fawning admirers, he would get openly laughed at for some of the outlandish hyperbole.

Re:Microsoft best innovation. (1)

VGR (467274) | more than 4 years ago | (#32296320)

Standing on the shoulders of giants is fine. Pretending you invented/innovated their work is not.

Am I the only one who remembers the Windows 95 radio ad that claimed Windows 95 introduced an amazing new concept called "multitasking"?

Re:Microsoft best innovation. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32296348)

Agree TOTALLY

Just look at Microsoft's invention of Kerberos for example!

Re:Microsoft best innovation. (1)

Murdoch5 (1563847) | more than 4 years ago | (#32295356)

One big innovation, they have the most shinny disks and most annoying product keys.

Re:Microsoft best innovation. (5, Insightful)

c++0xFF (1758032) | more than 4 years ago | (#32295444)

What is the best innovation Microsoft has brought to us?

The BSOD, of course. Bob and Clippy are tied for 2nd place.

Re:Microsoft best innovation. (5, Funny)

need4mospd (1146215) | more than 4 years ago | (#32296086)

It looks like you're trying to write a snarky comment about Microsoft. Would you like to:

- Make references to the instability of the operating system

- Discuss alternate software or operating systems that may be more functional

- Spell Microsoft with a dollar sign

Microsoft best innovation: Clippy! (2, Funny)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 4 years ago | (#32295456)

Well, Clippy of course! How else would people ever have figured out how to write a letter?

Re:Microsoft best innovation: Clippy! (1)

Snarf You (1285360) | more than 4 years ago | (#32295814)

how to write a letter

It looks like you're writing a letter. Would you like help?

  • Get help with writing the letter
  • Just type the letter without help

[ ] Don't show me this tip again

Clippy, the Slashdot Assistant (1)

Dystopian Rebel (714995) | more than 4 years ago | (#32296236)

news.slashdot.org/comments.pl

It looks like you are posting on Slashdot. Would you like help?

        * Offer an opinion without reading the article
        * Ask if the device runs Linux
        * Proclaim the Year Of Linux On The Desktop
        * Get help syntax and/or spelling before the Grammar Nazis flame you into a smoldering pile of Digg
        * Discuss how rude and/or ugly Steve Ballmer is
        * Agree with everything RMS said, even if you didn't understand it
        * Make a feeble attempt to defend Windows Vista
        * Cite an e-mail that you received from Steve Jobs at 00:37 this morning
        * Tell Mom you'll be up to fold your laundry in a minute
        * ??? and PROFIT
        * Just type the post without help

        [] Don't show this tip again.

Re:Microsoft best innovation. (1)

negRo_slim (636783) | more than 4 years ago | (#32295478)

I feel like Microsoft has never developed a key software innovation

What about DDE/COM?

Re:Microsoft best innovation. (2, Informative)

ls671 (1122017) | more than 4 years ago | (#32295604)

"Component Object Model (COM) is a binary-interface standard for software componentry introduced by Microsoft in 1993."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Component_Object_Model [wikipedia.org]

"The idea of RPC (Remote Procedure Call) goes back at least as far as 1976"

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Remote_procedure_call [wikipedia.org]

Re:Microsoft best innovation. (1)

negRo_slim (636783) | more than 4 years ago | (#32295798)

'Remote procedure call (RPC) is an Inter-process communication technology that allows a computer program to cause a subroutine or procedure to execute in another address space (commonly on another computer on a shared network) without the programmer explicitly coding the details for this remote interaction'
'The primary function of DDE is to allow Windows applications to share data.'

Re: Microsoft best innovation. (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 4 years ago | (#32295556)

I feel like Microsoft has never developed a key software innovation and is not that good at predictions. I guess a lot of people feel the same as me. They are excellent at marketing their products and at keeping a healthy business although.

Until a few years ago, Microsoft was best understood as a stock pyramid scheme rather than a software company.

Direct X (3, Informative)

FileNotFound (85933) | more than 4 years ago | (#32295598)

The framework made writing PC games relatively easy. Direct 3D did away with propriety 3D drivers. Direct Sound did the same for sound cards.

Without Direct X gaming on the PC would not mean "Windows Games".

Maybe that's not a good thing, but DirectX has had more effect on the PC Games industry than any other product.

Also bought, not innovated (1, Informative)

bornagainpenguin (1209106) | more than 4 years ago | (#32296324)

See RenderMorphics [wikipedia.org] for details.


--bornagainpenguin

Re:Microsoft best innovation. (2, Interesting)

Artifakt (700173) | more than 4 years ago | (#32295654)

Microsoft sort of faltered on some of its arguably best ideas. They implemented dynamic linking libraries, for example, and then couldn't or didn't get all the 3rd party developers to put the DLL's in the same place (Windows/system). They added the System32 subdirectory to keep 32 bit and 16 bit DLLs separate, and couldn't get cooperation on that either. Notice that Microsoft could have not issued its Windows certified or compatible stickers to anyone who didn't play along. They decided they would rather be able to brag about how much 3rd party software Windows could run, than get strict compliance. The exact same thing happened with the registry and individual .ini files.
      I'm not saying that Microsoft originated the DLL concept in its underlying form mind you, just that it was a good concept in that it that fit the abstraction layer model for computing, and Microsoft was in a position to decide DLLs either all went in the program's own directory or in Microsoft's special place, and they took a few half hearted steps to try to enforce one system, flip-flopped to the other, and then faltered completely. The same goes for the registry - somebody at Microsoft had a vision for how the damned thing was supposed to work that arguably could have made for a better security model or more stable environment than what they ended up doing, and the vision was even partly implemented, then faltered over time.

Re:Microsoft best innovation. (3, Funny)

Kilrah_il (1692978) | more than 4 years ago | (#32295688)

MS Bob!

Re:Microsoft best innovation. (3, Informative)

seven of five (578993) | more than 4 years ago | (#32295728)

The best innovation from Microsoft I could think of is DOS, but it was originally written to IBM specs then Microsoft recycled it into MS-DOS which is more a profiting after the fact attitude.

errr.... Microsoft didn't develop DOS either. They bought it. [wikipedia.org]

Re:Microsoft best innovation. (1)

Wiarumas (919682) | more than 4 years ago | (#32295850)

Microsoft was never good at innovation - they were good at mimicking their competitors and creating a decent, competing product, and deploying them will with good marketing... which is a completely legitimate strategy in my opinion since their products aren't THAT bad. The Windows OS, Word/Office, MSN Messenger, X-Box, Zune, Live Search, etc. See a common trend? They are all rehashed versions of, in many cases, successful products.

Re:Microsoft best innovation. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32295914)

The Ribbon. The greatest UI innovation of the 21st century.

Re:Microsoft best innovation. (5, Interesting)

harlows_monkeys (106428) | more than 4 years ago | (#32296056)

So here we go slashdotters: What is the best innovation Microsoft has brought to us...

The "brought to us" part is the hard part. Plenty of important innovation has happened at Microsoft, but they aren't that good at turning it into products.

For example, Microsoft researchers developed a kind of help system that observed what a user did, and learned their use patterns, and was able to recognize when they were having trouble with something and offer suggestions. It worked very well, mostly only interrupting with suggestions when you were in genuine need of help.

When this moved from the lab to the product people, the marketing people loved it, but complained that it didn't show up enough. They wanted to advertise this great feature, but if the typical user only actually saw it do something once a week or so, that would suck (from the salesman's point of view). So marketing forced the people implementing to turn the thresholds way down, and make it pop up a lot, with often inane suggestions. And that's how Clippy went from being perhaps the most sophisticated automated assistant in the world when it was in the lab, to perhaps the most annoying automated pest in the world when it ended up in products.

Another good example is statistical spam filtering. Microsoft internally had one of the earliest, and best, spam handling systems. They also were the first (in a partnership with outside researchers at, I think, Stanford) the first to publish academic papers on Bayesian filtering. But it was others who picked up on this and wrote articles for the non-academic crowd that made outside programmers aware of these techniques, and so few realize Microsoft was one of the pioneers here.

Their spam filtering actually went far beyond just filtering for spam. At one time they had a system internally that could look at your incoming mail, analyze it, figure out what it was about, and rank the importance of it. This was tied in with other systems, such as the web cam on your computer and the microphone on your computer. The web cam could watch you, and the microphone listen to what was going on in your office. If it say and heard that you were meeting with others, it could see who they were, and hear what you are talking about, analyze that and figure out its importance, and decide if the mail you just received can wait or is important enough to interrupt you.

Aside from one or two articles in the press that mentioned this system as part of stories profiling research at MS, I've not heard anything about it since. It apparently never made it to any kind of product development stage. Someday, someone else will do it all the way through to product (Google's a good candidate), and no one will remember that Microsoft had it first.

The bit problem with... (2, Informative)

toadlife (301863) | more than 4 years ago | (#32296098)

...the "Microsoft has never innovated" crowd is that they don't know what the word innovation means.

Hint: Innovation is not a synonym for invention.

Re:Microsoft best innovation. (1)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 4 years ago | (#32296156)

Microsoft didn't write DOS. Seattle Computer Products wrote DOS and Microsoft bought the company so they could use it in their IBM contract.
I believe Visual Studio is the only major product that Microsoft has developed in house.

Re:Microsoft best innovation. (1)

EvanED (569694) | more than 4 years ago | (#32296316)

One possible contender is the XMLHttpRequest [wikipedia.org] object in Javascript, which led to the possibility to make rich web applications.

Ironically enough, without that Google probably wouldn't be much more than a search engine.

To Acknowledge One's Mistake Is One Thing (3, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 4 years ago | (#32295248)

To edit what you wrote to correct your predictions is another. From the article (and my memory):

Gates's notion that the Internet would play a supporting role in the information highway of the future, rather than being the highway itself, was out-of-date the day The Road Ahead was published. Even Gates realized it. Shortly before his book hit the stores, Gates reorganized Microsoft to focus more on the Internet, and he made major revisions to a second edition of The Road Ahead, adding material that highlighted the significance of the Internet.

Never admitting fault or that you were wrong is one of the hallmarks of a successful businessman. You never have to acknowledge a weakness, you never have to assume responsibility, your image never falters and when your mistakes are too great, you can bail like a rat on a sinking ship instead of playing the part of the captain. It's this draconian mentality that will ensure your less intelligent employees view you as an immortal deity and flawless leader while the smarter employees exit your ship the next time it docks.

Re:To Acknowledge One's Mistake Is One Thing (5, Interesting)

spun (1352) | more than 4 years ago | (#32295292)

You forgot, "never show empathy." And now we have a complete diagnosis: sociopath. Only sociopaths have what it takes to succeed in modern business, everyone else is just too weak. We used to shun or kill monsters, now we elevate them to the status of Gods.

Re:To Acknowledge One's Mistake Is One Thing (1)

TheNumberless (650099) | more than 4 years ago | (#32295496)

Clever monsters have always been followed and adored. Foolish monsters are still often shunned and killed. The change you describe hasn't happened.

Re:To Acknowledge One's Mistake Is One Thing (4, Insightful)

spun (1352) | more than 4 years ago | (#32295790)

I would say rather, it has changed, to a high water mark in the 1950s, when the top tax bracket was 90%, but has changed back as the monsters fought back. Of course, I'm sure we all agree that we need to stop them at all costs. One can not bargain nor reason with monsters.

That is the true purpose of government, the people banding together to protect themselves from those who would oppress and abuse them. It is our duty, as individuals and citizens, to do everything in our power to stop them.

In any case, whether I am right or you are right about what has come before, I hope we can agree that being led about by monsters is not the optimal state of affairs, and we need to change things so society does not favor sociopaths. Sociopaths do not deserve the freedom to oppress others without consequences. No one does.

Re:To Acknowledge One's Mistake Is One Thing (5, Interesting)

RazorSharp (1418697) | more than 4 years ago | (#32295876)

You're right. I remember reading a study in a psychology class about how sociopathic CEOs tended to be. If not a sociopath, they tend to be obsessive compulsive. Think about it: most people, if paid as much as a Fortune 500 CEO, would retire after one year. Being a CEO is extremely stressful and most will never utilize the vast amounts of wealth they acquire. For them, business is a game that they just can't put down.

I think Microsoft with Gates/Balmer are a prime example of this. Their willingness to sink more resources into a project than it will profit for the sake of market-share demonstrates that they view business as a game of Monopoly. Look at the XBox, Bing, and IE. Gates cares more about his legacy than anything else. He cares more about having credit for modern technological achievements than actually contributing to society. Just look at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. I know it's taboo to criticize, but as the Priest in A Clockwork Orange said, "What does God want? Does God want goodness or the choice of goodness?" Intentions and motivations matter, and Gates has demonstrated time after time that he is motivated by selfishness and arrogance. If he cared about technological progress he wouldn't try to beat the competition to the market with half-assed products, stagnate progress once he has a lock on a market, and make an enemy of open source. If he cared about helping people then he wouldn't insist on being given credit for it with interviews every time his foundation spends a few cents. He's a sociopath.

Re:To Acknowledge One's Mistake Is One Thing (0, Redundant)

oddTodd123 (1806894) | more than 4 years ago | (#32296218)

Think about it: most people, if paid as much as a Fortune 500 CEO, would retire after one year.

The personality and attitude that are required to become a Fortune 500 CEO are the reason they keep working and seeking more wealth. Similarly, most lottery winners squander their winnings in a few years. (Source [journalstar.com] ) Basically, people who would retire after one year will never put themselves in the position to be paid as much as a Fortune 500 CEO.

Re:To Acknowledge One's Mistake Is One Thing (1)

Em Emalb (452530) | more than 4 years ago | (#32295446)

Goddamn, you're jaded man.

I thought I was, but I can see I've got a ways to go.

Not that it matters, I'll probably be dead by the time I figure it all out... ;-)

Re:To Acknowledge One's Mistake Is One Thing (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32295526)

"To edit what you wrote to correct your predictions" for a new edition of a book is not unethical as you imply, it is the usual manner in which one adds value to a book to make the new edition more useful. Some Slashdotters might remember what we used to refer to as "textbooks" that we used in conjunction with classroom instruction. Textbooks used to be revised frequently, primarily so the textbook publishers could sell more books, but the normal method of enticing people to buy the revised version was to correct them and add material.

Does Bill Gates have ANY technical knowledge? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32295968)

It appeared to me that the book The Road Ahead was heavily edited so that it included NO useful information. The book was, at the time, utterly boring. The "predictions" were unimportant commonplace thinking.

There are two co-authors, Nathan Myhrvold and Peter Rinearson. It is possible that Bill Gates did none of the writing, or almost none. Why does the Slashdot story say, "Bill Gates's The Road Ahead"?

It seemed to me that the book was deliberate fraud. They knew that any book by "Bill Gates" would sell. They knew most editors at the time would not have enough technical knowledge to detect the fraud. So people would buy the book believing that they had gotten something useful.

They are still practicing that fraud. Patents are obtained using the name Bill Gates. Publications are still fooled. Do a Google search: Bill Gates patent [google.com] . This is the truth: Bill Gates' Name Surfaces On Patent Applications [informationweek.com] . His name is "surfacing". Possibly he had little or no involvement.

If you have ANY way of showing that Bill Gates has technical knowledge, please comment. There is no evidence that I can find. Supposedly Bill Gates wrote the original (very buggy) Microsoft Basic in assembly language. After that there is no evidence that he has an interest in technology.

The real Bill Gates is socially backward and abusive. For example: Bill Gates Unleashes Mosquito Swarm. [gawker.com]

Windows Me would be a good OS (0, Offtopic)

Murdoch5 (1563847) | more than 4 years ago | (#32295284)

Apparently he missed on that one to!

Email... (4, Interesting)

Knara (9377) | more than 4 years ago | (#32295318)

Does anyone really work for an organization that 1) has people who regularly don't get emails and 2) is encouraging people to use email less?

Seems like workflow problems, not email problems.

Re:Email... (1)

dskzero (960168) | more than 4 years ago | (#32295452)

Pretty much. That article is terribly biased.

But then again, this IS slashdot.

Re:Email... (2, Interesting)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 4 years ago | (#32295500)

Yes, I currently work at such a place. One old fart hates Email and so no-one ever sends him any. The rest of us however, are normal.

Re:Email... (2, Interesting)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 4 years ago | (#32295738)

I'll second that. In fact, I have worked in a place which had precisely the effect he's talking about -- we had a few short meetings, and a lot of discussions via email, version control logs, etc.

The miss was "shared screens" -- no idea what he's talking about.

Re:Email... (1)

FinDaren (1001931) | more than 4 years ago | (#32295942)

Think webex.

Re:Email... (1)

Protocron (611778) | more than 4 years ago | (#32296090)

Yeah, webex, gotomeeting, gotowebinar and teamviewer. All have become important parts of business that I use.

Re:Email... (1)

BagOBones (574735) | more than 4 years ago | (#32296450)

You missed Microsoft Products Live Meeting, and Office Communicator.

They made Gates' book into a movie (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32295370)

They made Gates' book into a movie starring Viggo Mortensen and with the shortened title: The Road.

And I agree that it is entirely too optimistic.

Still worked out better than my own predictions (5, Funny)

Skyshadow (508) | more than 4 years ago | (#32295384)

It's easy to make fun of Bill for his predictions, but I'll admit my own haven't worked out so great either. Here from 1995:

- By 2010, as many as 1 out of every 25 people will have an email account, causing massive slowdown of the FidoNet.
- I'll never be that old guy who gets his video-game ass handed to him by 13 year olds.
- Register sex.com? Nah, that'd be a waste of $100.
- Being a programmer will be a totally safe field -- it's not like people in India will suddenly all get computers and start coding.

Ouch.

Re:Still worked out better than my own predictions (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 4 years ago | (#32295518)

Ouch.

I don't see anything about flying cars.

Re:Still worked out better than my own predictions (2, Funny)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#32295648)

I don't see anything about flying cars.

Moller's latest prototype broke its tether, pitched sideways, and came through his window, killing him while at the same instant dropping a bolt on the mouse, pressing Submit, before he could bring that up.

Re:Still worked out better than my own predictions (2, Interesting)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 4 years ago | (#32295786)

Being a programmer will be a totally safe field -- it's not like people in India will suddenly all get computers and start coding.

Not totally safe, but companies are starting to figure out that you get what you pay for, and demand is steadily increasing, particularly for people with actual comp sci degrees.

Re:Still worked out better than my own predictions (1)

Infiniti2000 (1720222) | more than 4 years ago | (#32295946)

Good God that's funny. It's so funny, though, because it's so true.

Re:Still worked out better than my own predictions (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 4 years ago | (#32296430)

Ah FidoNet...what fond memories. And I too was once forever young. Unfortunately, forever didn't last nearly as long as I expected.

Yeah, but in his defense... (3, Insightful)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#32295434)

...predicting the future of technology is always a difficult thing to do. Just 30 years ago, the current state of the Internet was almost unfathomable. Think about it: in just 30 years, we've gone from cell phones being prohibitively expensive and the size of briefcases, to cell phones that fit in your pocket and allow you to access the whole of human knowledge in a matter of seconds. In 50 years, we've gone from computers being the size of rooms, to the iPhone, or Android phones.

My cell phone, an HTC Ozone, is more powerful than my computer from the late 90's. Aside from the video card, my cell phone is technically powerful enough to run Deus Ex...and my cell phone is far from the best one on the market.

Re:Yeah, but in his defense... (3, Interesting)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 4 years ago | (#32295802)

Actually, many phones (not sure about yours) probably have a video card that's more than good enough to run Deus Ex. It's the CPU architecture that'd most likely be a problem.

Re:Yeah, but in his defense... (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 4 years ago | (#32296204)

Think about it: in just 30 years, we've gone from cell phones being prohibitively expensive and the size of briefcases, to cell phones that fit in your pocket and allow you to access the whole of human knowledge in a matter of seconds.

Having read The Road Ahead back in '95, the main thing I remember was Gates' prediction about pocket computers, which suddenly seems much more accurate than it did 3 years ago when smartphones were struggling to catch on. Consistent with Gates' blindside for the Internet, his pocket PC vision was not Internet-centric. But that, too, seems to be becoming improbably more accurate. Lately people are moving away from Internet-centricity and towards proprietary cell network centricity. Yes, I realize the iPad and iPhone still have Internet connectivity and would lose significant functionality without it; on the other hand, the mindset of "there's an app for that" is moving back to the pre-internet days when the Company provided each service that you might want to use, on their closed network. E.g. texting pushing aside email, and DRM-protected readers pushing aside the Web.

Never Seen a Quote from Bill's Book (3, Funny)

BoRegardless (721219) | more than 4 years ago | (#32295438)

The book is as irrelevant as Bill Gates and I suspect Bill understood and that is why he left for something he was fully qualified to do: give away money.

Re:Never Seen a Quote from Bill's Book (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32295554)

The book is as irrelevant as Bill Gates and I suspect Bill understood and that is why he left for something he was fully qualified to do: give away money.

Strange the number of *NIX fans who claim that Gates is/was irrelevant. While his impact on Microsoft (and computers in general) has undoubtedly declined in recent years, keep in mind that he was at the helm (for better or worse, depending on your viewpoint) for many years.

I'd love to be as 'irrelevant' as Gates (also, as rich as him as well).

Re:Never Seen a Quote from Bill's Book (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 4 years ago | (#32295662)

> I'd love to be as 'irrelevant' as Gates (also, as rich as him as well).

Some people care about being respected by the right people. Obviously you don't.

It's like Steve Job's remark about Gates having no taste.

Re:Never Seen a Quote from Bill's Book (1)

toadlife (301863) | more than 4 years ago | (#32296186)

Who the right people are is very subjective.

Re:Never Seen a Quote from Bill's Book (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32295564)

I love that this has been modded insightful.

Bill Gates not relevant? Really? Look, I get annoyed by MS products as much as the next guy, but Bill Gates has done a LOT of good with his and his wife's foundation. A lot of good. Troll post should be modded troll.

Re:Never Seen a Quote from Bill's Book (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#32295606)

but Bill Gates has done a LOT of good with his and his wife's foundation. A lot of good. Troll post should be modded troll.

Cue the asshats claiming he is only doing it for the tax break. My answer: I don't give a fuck why he's doing it. The guy has given away literally billions of dollars of his own money. I don't care if he is doing it as a front for a cocaine operation...he is giving away billions of dollars of his own money. Full stop.

Political Action Committe (1)

SgtChaireBourne (457691) | more than 4 years ago | (#32295844)

No, he hasn't. He has been giving away Warren Buffet's money [cnn.com] . Stop lying. If you look deeper than the headlines, you'll see that the Foundation is more like a Political Action Committee than anything else.

Re:Political Action Committe (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#32296078)

You do realize that article is from 2006, while the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has been around since 1994. [wikipedia.org]

I also find it funny that you linked to CNN, considering your sig.

Re: Never Seen a Quote from Bill's Book (4, Funny)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 4 years ago | (#32295646)

that is why he left for something he was fully qualified to do: give away money.

I liked the Jon Stewart comment after the police raid over the lost iPhone:

[in confused voice, after reminding us of the Apple "1984" commercial:] 'Apple is busting down doors in Palo Alto and Bill Gates is killing mosquitoes in Africa.'

still no progress in .... (5, Funny)

u19925 (613350) | more than 4 years ago | (#32295468)

"The obvious mathematical breakthrough would be development of an easy way to factor large prime numbers." (p.265)

Re:still no progress in .... (4, Informative)

pjt33 (739471) | more than 4 years ago | (#32295860)

I can factor large prime numbers really easily.

Re:still no progress in .... (1)

Michael Kristopeit (1751814) | more than 4 years ago | (#32295964)

uh... here:

function factor_prime_number($prime) return(array(1, $prime));

Re:still no progress in .... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32296244)

A WinRAR is YOU!

Re:still no progress in .... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32296338)

I can factor large prime numbers easily.

Products of large prime numbers, on the other hand....

face to face (4, Insightful)

citylivin (1250770) | more than 4 years ago | (#32295474)

"But friendships formed online don't regularly lead to face-to-face meetings."

The author of this retrospective was dead wrong. I know plenty of people who chat on facebook and then meetup in real life. Its generally for dating purposes. Not to mention craigslist, and the multitude of online games, fourms and other avenues to connect your real life to the internet. Infact, I think gates was more prescient than the author is giving him credit for. If you had asked me 15 years ago, I would have said that was unlikely as everyone uses pseudonames and tries hard to hide their real selves.

This is clearly no longer the case, so I think gates was correct that the "superhighway" has led to more face to face interactions.

Re:face to face (3, Informative)

Antisyzygy (1495469) | more than 4 years ago | (#32295544)

I met my wife on a dating site.

Re:face to face (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32295760)

Sloppy seconds.

Re:face to face (3, Interesting)

Doctor Faustus (127273) | more than 4 years ago | (#32296442)

I met mine through the VMS Confer message boards set up at our college. They were already ancient in 1994, but still pretty popular.

Re:face to face (1)

chartreuse (16508) | more than 4 years ago | (#32295954)

This is funny, 'cause I hear Gates met his wife online.

Remember the cool CD of his House? (1)

wdhowellsr (530924) | more than 4 years ago | (#32295508)

I seem to remember a cool CD / DVD that had a walkthrough of his house.

Gates Miss on Networking actually a Hit. (4, Insightful)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 4 years ago | (#32295528)

I disagree with the networking assessment. Even the fastest "home" wireless is still significantly slower than consumer wired ethernet. Higher end wired networking is faster still. Also, while wireless might seem at least barely adequate at home, it can quickly become unusable outside the home. 3G coverage is spotty and often completely unusable. Wireless still has a ways to go. Although of course there are always some that push technology and those that don't.

Although the main problem with wireless is security, not speed.

So what? (1, Interesting)

MaWeiTao (908546) | more than 4 years ago | (#32295592)

Bill Gates missed on a few points. So what? What am I supposed to infer from this?

This book was a snapshot of Bill Gates's thoughts at that particular moment in time. Beyond being mildly interesting it's completely irrelevant. His expectations were based on what he was seeing around him. His predictions were based on the state of technology at the time and colored by his own work. Clearly has ideas have evolved in the intervening years. Microsoft likely would have been out of business by now if he hadn't changed his expectations.

Technology has so many interdependencies that it's impossible to accurately predict the future. The internet was just beginning to see somewhat mainstream use 15 years ago. Services like Prodigy and American Online were still big. It's only a matter of time before something comes along that dramatically changes the way we browse the web, rendering today's predictions just as meaningless.

Re:So what? (4, Interesting)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 4 years ago | (#32295764)

No. When that book was written, it was already obvious that the Internet was going to kill off proprietary services like Prodigy and AOL. By the time that the net came along those services were OLD. They were an OLD model. They were long overdue for a disruption. Any technophile worth his salt should have seen this. More likely, Gates saw his interest lying in replacing AOL and wanted to push that idea whether he thought it was likely or not.

He simply wanted to try and push the world into his particular Walled Garden.

What a businessman tells you can't be taken at face value.

Ultimately he's going to want to sell you something.

Ballmer (4, Funny)

sckirklan (1412015) | more than 4 years ago | (#32295750)

The Steve Ballmer developer jam. Although not foretold in Gates' book.

Re:Ballmer (1)

dzfoo (772245) | more than 4 years ago | (#32296446)

>> "A window will be shattered in conference room #201, and a chair will be noticed missing." (p. 142)

      -dZ.

The real prediction (4, Funny)

ch-chuck (9622) | more than 4 years ago | (#32295788)

He could easily have predicted, "In the future, I'll still be filthy rich" - not one to be careless with money.

He wasn't the only one.. (3, Informative)

wiredog (43288) | more than 4 years ago | (#32295830)

Another book from 15 years ago [berkeley.edu] that biffed it.

I hate people who contradict themselves... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32295956)

Especially in the same sentence. Social Networking : Hit and Miss. You can't be correct and incorrect. These people writing this article are really stupid.

Gates never said you'd have more Privacy, he said you could have fewer interruptions if that's what you chose. Just because people refuse to turn off their CrackBerry does not make his prediction wrong. In fact, every one of his predictions were correct.

It's not like his predictions were genius. It's pretty simple to make the prediction today that video conferencing will be more prevalent 15 years from now and it will be cheaper and higher quality.

Re:I hate people who contradict themselves... (1)

Galestar (1473827) | more than 4 years ago | (#32296154)

Altogether the writer is just talking out his ass. Gate's predictions compared to what has been realized in the past 15 years is open for a lot of interpretation. I went down that list and had almost exactly the opposite view for each item. Altogether, this article could have been written by a 5th grader and had just about as much merit.

Well, Marvin Minsky was wrong too. (4, Interesting)

dbuttric (9027) | more than 4 years ago | (#32296104)

I was in the AI lab at MIT, testing my wits against LISP. In walks Marvin Minsky.

I asked him if he could give me a tip or two about atoms.

His response to me was: "Well, why dont you wait until the computer speaks your language... Then program it in that?"

That was alot longer ago than 15 years...

How are these misses? (5, Insightful)

digiplant (581943) | more than 4 years ago | (#32296184)

1) Email - Seems to me that his statement is a "hit". Email does alleviate the need for as many meetings and does allow my collegues and I to show up more informed. You really have to question the author's judgement if he doesn't think this was the biggest "hit" of all. Email has definitely changed the way I collaborate. This author wants us to believe that he never reviews documents that were emailed to him before a meeting?

2) Social Networking - Again, what planet does this person live on? Not the planet earth where facebook gets more daily hits than google? This is so ridiculous he would call this a miss in any way. I definitely interact with people I would've otherwise lost contact with daily. I've also met several people online and then in real life.

3) Online Shopping - Here the author is relying too much on Gates's exact words, and not the spirit of his statement. The internet has definitely revolutionized online shopping. Every book I buy, I first explore inside on amazon. When I was looking for cars, I find many online videos about it. When I rent a hotel, I can take a 360 view tour to make sure it is as swank as I would like it to be.

4) The Internet and The Web - Again, I just don't see how Gates was really wrong here. The Internet is just part of the "information superhighway", albeit a large piece. I connect with private market data feeds from all over the world at work. I watch tv on my sprint cell phone. I use gps signal from satellites. I send text messages on my phone. I watch tv on my cable tv system. I play games against my friends over Xbox Live. I have a private network at home that I share video and music on. I buy quicken at best buy to manage my finances which also connects to my bank accounts. I also of course browse the web and send email.

I could probably go on. The point is that this article either biased or wrong, maybe both.

Well... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32296296)

Surely if he could predict the future he'd be rich. Oh, wait...

TOAD HEAD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32296372)

The best use ever for that book

http://web.archive.org/web/20021206093049/http://www.spies.com/ToadHead/

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