Steve Jobs was never one to pull any punches. Sugar coating his opinions simply wasn’t in his nature and it’s not terribly surprising to see Jobs take quite a few shots and some familiar targets in his biography.
Steve Jobs was never a fan of Microsoft. Worse than copying the Mac with Windows, Microsoft was fundamentally flawed, Jobs believed, to the extent that they had no taste and released second rate, shoddy products completely devoid of any design and artistic sensibilities.
Microsoft still runs the desktop market with Windows, but Apple today is a more successful company thanks to the iPod, iPhone, and iPad. But for Jobs, money was never what it was all about, and his opinion on Microsoft and Bill Gates didn’t waver much over the years.
In one of the more quotable passages from Steve Jobs’ biography, Jobs has this to say of Gates:
Bill is basically unimaginative and has never invented anything which is why I think he’s more comfortable now in philanthropy than technology. He just shamelessly ripped off other people’s ideas.
Those are some pretty harsh words, but Gates to his credit doesn’t take it too personally. Of course, letting insults just roll off your back is a whole lot easier when you’re a multi-billionaire.
Addressing what Jobs said of him and Microsoft in his biography, Gates was very gentlemanly.
“Well, Steve and I worked together, creating the Mac. We had more people on it, did the key software for it.”
“So, over the course of the 30 years we worked together, you know, he said a lot of very nice things about me and he said a lot of tough things. I mean, he faced several times at Apple the fact that their products were so premium priced they literally might not stay in the marketplace. So, the fact that we were succeeding with high-volume products, including a range of prices, because of the way we worked with multiple companies, its tough.”
“At various times, he felt beleaguered. He felt like he was the good guy and we were the bad guys. You know, very understandable. I respect Steve, we got to work together. We spurred each other on, even as competitors. None of that bothers me at all.”
Classy stuff. Though to be fair, we’re not exactly sure what Gates is smoking when he said that he helped create the Mac. But yes, Microsoft was responsible for some of the Macs early software.
In any event, Gates wasn’t exactly an angel himself back when he was running the show at Microsoft. He was a notoriously cutthroat and effective CEO and you don’t become a company as big as Microsoft was and is by playing nice. Further, Gates has historically been quite adept and issuing a few barbs of his own. Back when Apple’s iMac was out, Gates dismissed it out of hand claiming the only thing Apple was leading the way in was colors.