Thursday, October 27, 1994 by Dave Winer.
First, I'd like to thank Bill Gates for taking the time to respond to my comments on the online industry, and on the pending deal between IBM and Apple Computer. He raises points that I think should be addressed directly, and then, in a separate essay, I have comments on Apple Computer and its relationship with Macintosh developers, a group which includes Bill and myself and others.
Bill -- I don't mind your characterizing my essays as demagoguery, and by implication, characterizing me a demagogue. I looked it up. It's a great word! It derives from the Greek, "demagogos." Leader of the common people. In English it has a slightly different meaning: "a person who tries to stir up the people by appeals to emotion, prejudice, etc. in order to win them over quickly, and in doing so, to gain power."
[I actually prefer another characterization of this medium as: "... a community that is essentially faceless except for the local 'gang of 8.' Wide area broadcast with an edited letters section. Local direct connect but with alphabetical theme. A benevolent editor with wide reaching powers. And an editorial voice like a kid in a candy store. Great! I can't wait for the next, er, episode?" -- Scott Wiener, Common Knowledge, developers of Arrange, firstname.lastname@example.org.]
For me, the amazing thing is how ready the people are for something like a demagogue. They seem to be very fearful of something, Bill, and I think that something is you! Maybe this is what you want? But here's a challenging question. Are you the leader of the software industry, or are you just the leader of Microsoft? Do you have any kind or generous ideas or thoughts for other technologists in this business? Can you forgive Apple for its past transgressions and go forward from there? What do you want from us? I won't attempt to guess at this. And I'll take the rest of your comments at face-value, not try to read anything into them, although it is very tempting to do so.
Re respect -- I appreciate your statement -- "I think you have done some great stuff for the Mac and I hope you continue to do more." It's mutual -- I've always had enormous respect for you personally, and the culture you've developed at Microsoft. I don't think I've ever said anything to contradict that. But I'd also like to point out that I've shipped award-winning software for the PC too. ;->
Next subject... The Internet will not cause less computers to sell. Probably quite the opposite, I think that online stuff is driving a substantial part of the sales of PCs today, and I expect much more so in the future. It will not effect your sales of Encarta and Flight Simulator. In fact, since you are almost certainly making these products "online-aware" they will probably become more exciting, useful and entertaining. And more valuble.
The *real* question is: Is online a new industry, or is it part of the PC industry? I think you've made your position clear -- that online is part of the PC industry. It makes sense, being who you are, and where your interests lie, that you would see it this way. I respectfully disagree with this point of view. I think that the online business is fundamentally different from the PC software business. [I bet Ken Olson thought that PCs were an extension of the minicomputer business.]
Re embracing the Internet, I believe you are probably doing everything you can. But you don't own the standards. That's why I say I think you got caught flat-footed. Don't take this personally, you are the leader of the PC industry. All the followers got caught flat-footed too.
Re betting the company -- I heard you say it. It shocked me. I've asked Stewart Alsop for the exact words you used, but apparently the transcripts from Agenda 95 aren't ready yet. Your comments were in response to a question from Mark Stahlman of New Media Associates. We'll have to wait Alsop & Coursey to provide the exact quote.
Finally, switching gears, re Windows 95 and hardware upgrades, I was thinking of plug and play. Windows 95 has gained a very valuble position as being everything a Macintosh is today. My point: not without a hardware upgrade.
Plug and play, or SCSI as its known in the Macintosh world, is an incredibly valuble feature. It's one of the major weak links in the PC world. Apparently Windows 95 fixes this. But not without new hardware.
I had a personal experience a few months ago that brought this home for me. I installed a new utility on my AST 486 machine. Cool. But I lost my CD-ROM drive! Apparently the utility messed with my CONFIG.SYS or WIN.INI or AUTOEXEC.BAT or whatever, and now the driver software for the CD is lost. I was very upset! This kind of thing can't happen on a Macintosh because it's a plug and play system. It's a fundamentally more reliable design for a personal computer.
Again, Bill, thanks for appearing here. Your comments are welcome any time.
PS: I've only seen Windows 95 running on friends' computers. If you'd like to send me a copy (on floppy, for previously stated reasons) I'd be happy to install it and try it out.
PPS: I'm glad you're in this business for fun... Let's have some!
PPPS: Don't confuse demogogue with demigod -- "the offspring of a human being and a god or godess."
PPPPS: And don't confuse demogogue with demo god -- a term which I coined in the early 80's and would like to be credited with!
PPPPPS: As always. if you aren't interested in this kind of stuff, send me email and I'll happily delete your name from the list. And it's OK to forward it anywhere you like. The list is expanding -- I'm always happy to add new names. Send email to email@example.com.