People Can't Digest Microsoft's New Ad

FRAMINGHAM (04/18/2000) - If you watch television at all, by now you've seen the Microsoft ad in which Bill Gates, wearing his "regular guy" clothes, spins a 30-second fairy tale about his company.

In a typical once-upon-a-time opening, Gates intones: "Twenty-five years ago, my friends and I started with nothing but an idea that we could harness the power of the PC to improve people's lives."

Bill, Bill, Bill. What happened to truth in advertising? Twenty-five years ago there was no PC. Twenty-five years ago you sought to make a quick buck by selling a compiler for the basic language. Then you launched a career of being an inverse Robin Hood - taking ideas from cash-poor developers, then keeping the money you made from their efforts. Along the way, you rode roughshod over most established standards bodies while playing the spoiled brat in your dealings with partners and competitors.

The ad continues with Gates stating: "Now our goal at Microsoft is . . . to keep innovating . . ." What innovating? In 25 years, there have been no innovations emanating from Redmond - unless you count "Microsoft Bob." Every new product, every new idea was originated and developed somewhere else before being exploited by Microsoft.

Take your billions and get out of the way. Let the company settle with the Department of Justice and get on with business. Stop telling fairy tales to the computing public. Then, maybe, we can all say " . . . the best is yet to come."

On a more upbeat note, last month I mentioned a rumor going around that Novell CEO Eric Schmidt and Chief Operating Officer Stewart Nelson didn't get along.

Well, at least according to Nelson, nothing could be further from the truth.

According to Nelson, the two are so compatible that when Schmidt eats Tex-Mex, Nelson gets heartburn.

He also claims to have no desire to leave the Novell fold to strike out on his own, nor does he aspire to replace Schmidt at the top. That's a good idea, since Novell shows little history of promoting from within. Only time will tell, but Nelson has shown great survival instincts since coming to Novell from WordPerfect, so I wouldn't bet against him now.

Kearns, a former network administrator, is a freelance writer and consultant in Austin, Texas. He can be reached at

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