Bill Gates' Last Day At Microsoft…

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An era is drawing to a close…

Though I have always had a strong personal affinity for Apple’s systems and products, I have spent most of my professional tech life working with software from Microsoft. And while I do feel that Microsoft’s products typically lack that certain spark that distinguishes the ‘great’ from the ‘merely good’, they have – as a company – contributed enormously to making the personal computer revolution a ubiquitous reality. That accomplishment is based largely on one significant innovation that Bill Gates helped to define.

The concept of software development as an industry…

Prior to Microsoft, software was usually developed by small groups of individuals. There wasn’t a framework that allowed what they developed to become universal. There were multiple computer platforms each with their own unique attributes and adherents. If programs were ported across systems (like VisiCalc was), they usually ended up being largely rewritten to exploit these unique features. Even software developed for a single platform – say the Apple ][ – was typically written from the hardware level up and didn’t leverage a platform based development model. Bill Gates saw an opportunity to bring an efficient approach to this piecemeal development universe, and Microsoft – the first truly scalable software company – evolved from that vision. While we may look back at this as something obvious, it actually represented a fundamental shift from what came before it.

And it helped launch the software industry as we know it today…

There are many people, even some who are critical of Microsoft, who have been able to develop very successful careers based largely – even if indirectly – on the impact of this innovation. It has been a boon to almost everyone in this industry.

Bill Gates will be ending his day to day association with Microsoft this summer, and today was his last keynote at the Consumer Electronics Show. To commemorate his coming departure, he showed a parody video of what his last day at Microsoft will be like. I found a copy of it online:


I have a lot of respect for someone that can head off in a completely new direction at this point in their life and career. It takes a certain strength of character to make the leap and try to redefine yourself around a new passion – especially when that means leaving a company you built from scratch.

Love him or hate him, the industry will be a lot less interesting when he’s gone…

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