Rory Cellan-Jones

Battles over Bill

  • Rory Cellan-Jones
  • 8 Jan 08, 03:19 GMT

If you want to start a fight, interview Bill Gates. The founder of Microsoft divides opinion like no other figure in the technology world. And as soon as our interview appeared, the Bill-backers and Bill-baiters started slugging it out on this blog.

We got viewers, listeners and readers to suggest the questions but that did not prevent some of you from accusing us of giving Mr Gates an easy ride. Of course, we chose which questions made it into the final interview - someone had to -€“ but Microsoft imposed no conditions on what we could ask. Darren Waters and I spent many hours agonising over the choice. We tried to ensure it reflected the genuine interest expressed by many correspondents in Bill Gates' views on technology - while also covering their complaints about the quality of his software and Microsoft'€™s attitude to the Open Source movement.

Some felt we failed to give him a real beating, a few seemed to think the interview should never have taken place or asked why we had not interviewed other major figures from the technology world.

Believe me, we spend much of our time bombarding the likes of Apple and Google with interview requests. One reason that Bill Gates appears reasonably regularly on BBC output is that he quite often says yes.

I would love to repeat this experiment by taking your questions to Steve Jobs or Jonathan Ive at Apple -€“ or to Larry Page and Sergey Brin at Google. And, believe it or not, I got an e-mail from a spin doctor at one of those companies this morning, musing on whether this might be a good idea. Perhaps we've started something.


  • 1.
  • At 09:21 AM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Eric Smith wrote:

Mr Cellan-Jones

You were chosen for your job because you are the kind of chap the BBC can trust to choose the right questions for Mr Gates. If Mr Gates was unhappy, you would find your contract would not be renewed.

  • 2.
  • At 09:50 AM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • jacko wrote:

It is indeed impossible to please all of the people all of the time.

Unfortunately readers comments are often riddled with factual errors in trying to win the argument.

Is Bill Gates the devil? Of course not.

Is he some kind of tech god? Of course not.

He managed to convince IBM to exclusively licence his OS on their desktop PC's and the rest is history.

I wish people would actually give Apple Macs a try though, for the majority of people who want Internet, email, office, photo's, video, audio and more they are perfect. Safe, secure and stable.

OK, maybe for gamers they aren't the right choice, but for anything else, you'll be happily surprised.

When people say that we have to thank Microsoft for where we are today, all I can say was that in 1990 I was using an Operating System that was light years in front and was called Workbench on the Amiga.

If only they would have had a Jobs like figure to do the marketing, they might have succeeded!

There are very few companies doing great things these days, as everything is pushed by the balance sheet. Long gone are the days of garage engineers knocking up the next computers.

As for predictions, I think they'll be a new advanced technology produced and that Microsoft will bully the company and buy them out, botch up the Windows implementation and throw it away. Hmmm.....

History. Repeating.

  • 3.
  • At 05:07 PM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • brannon wrote:

"You were chosen for your job because you are the kind of chap the BBC can trust to choose the right questions for Mr Gates. If Mr Gates was unhappy, you would find your contract would not be renewed."

what a pathetic attempt at rubbishing a perfectly good interview (and a good example of the kind of zealotry spoken of in the article that leads to these ridiculous comments).

if you're going to leave a critical post, do everyone a favour and don't just leave a vague, meaningless remark that is somehow supposed to discredit the source via means of your incredible wit. criticism is fine and often necessary; it's when people don't have the grace to do it properly that irritates me.

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