Getting Involved: Gates vs. Jobs

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer is running a series on Bill Gates leaving daily life at Microsoft. They’re blogging about the piece as well, and in a recent post, they quote an email Gates wrote about usability back in 2003.

It’s an interesting read on several levels, but what really strikes me is how unfamiliar Gates seems using his very own operating system and computer. He appears to be mystified by the way core components of Windows behave, how the website functions, and just generally seems out of touch.

So I got back up and running and went to Windows Updale again. I forgot why I was in Windows Update at all since all I wanted was to get Moviemaker.

So I went back to and looked at the instructions. I have to click on a folder called WindowsXP. Why should I do that? Windows Update knows I am on Windows XP.

What does it mean to have to click on that folder? So I get a bunch of confusing stuff but sure enough one of them is Moviemaker.

So I do the download. The download is fast but the Install takes many minutes. Amazing how slow this thing is.

Contrast this to Steve Job’s obsession with detail and deeply intimate understanding of not only the hardware and software his company creates, but with the branding, marketing, and user experience. More often that not, it’s Jobs himself who gives product introductions and demos, for example.

Gates and Jobs are like polar opposites, and it makes sense why Jobs is often described as a control freak. It’s because he’s obsessed with understanding every aspect of what Apple does.

Although this is just a snapshot of a moment that took place 5 years ago, I think it sheds some interesting light on state of the company today.

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