Talk with Gates
Saturday, October 18, 1997 by Dave Winer.
Earlier today I had a 1.5 hour phone conversation with Bill Gates, CEO of Microsoft. A quick report follows.
We talked mostly about Java and cross-platform programming; a little about the Macintosh, and focused on the future, not Microsoft's current legal dispute with Sun.
The conversation came about thru a DaveNet piece, Money Money Money (MMM) and a semi-public hallway conversation with Eric Rudder, a member of Gates's staff, in New Orleans at the Web Builder conference; which was followed up with a phone conversation with Charles Fitzgerald on Thursday. The Gates conversation was heated and opinionated (at times) but friendly and respectful at all times.
Speaking for myself only, I'm looking for a way to turn the current dispute between Sun and Microsoft over Java into something positive for independent developers, especially those interested in cross-platform solutions and programming the Internet at the client, content production and server levels. Looking for win-wins.
Microsoft scored big with its investment in Apple (Gates agrees). More deals like this can happen. In MMM I said "We could come up with a compromise that radically alters the structure of the software industry." The Microsoft-Apple deal is the prototype for that restructuring, and I hope we took a positive step in that direction today.
Microsoft's view of the world and Sun's cannot come into agreement. Sun has clearly stated that they want to compete with Windows, and as I've said before it's unreasonable to expect Microsoft to support this.
Like many developers, I can't afford to get caught in the middle of the conflicts between Sun and Microsoft. I encouraged Gates to look beyond this faceoff, and see a chance to add to the momentum of his APIs, without standing in the way of the protocols that Sun et al are promoting.
Sun has made it clear that they want to continue to call the shots on the evolution of Java. This could limit Java's future; but I believe it's Sun's call.
Things are happening too quickly now for me to write up every step of the process. I wish I had two bodies so I could do it all. Maybe when the dust settles I'll get a chance to do that.
I welcome opportunites to have similar talks with execs at other companies who may be interested in these areas.