FryUp: He's gone

Billy Gates moves into the slow lane while Ernie, networks permitting, gives us all a pay rise

— He's gone

— Overseas earnings

Get bent, 4ssh4t

Hmm... looks like Mat Honan has been a naughty boy. The output really sucks though. Jerry's not going to read that messy wodge of text.

He's gone

Today, he quits. No, honestly, this time it's for real: Bill Gates leaves Microsoft. Sure he is: he's off to manage the US$100 billion Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, that gives away at least five per cent of its worth every year so not to be taxed. Don't believe me?

Oh OK then... he will stay at Microsoft, kind of, as the largest shareholder and chairman of the board. But, I'm telling you, he will *not* want to see a DOS prompt during the board meetings.

Should he go though? I mean, not quite go but to let the Ballmer, Mundie and Ozzie (of Lotus SETON fame) take over the reins. That's the debate amongst Microsoft watchers currently. Gates is seen as the main architect of Microsoft's success to date (and, the guy who somehow managed to steer the company around some pretty major roadbumps along the way).

Most people who follow Microsoft agree that the company's been treading water for the past few years. The rot set in after Windows XP, with Microsoft not being able to come up with the cool stuff competitors like Apple and Google have. There's no Microsoft iPhone for instance and even with the great image finding interface, there's no compelling reason to use Live Search instead of Google. Gmail versus Hotmail, OS X versus Vista, Firefox versus Internet Explorer; it's not just in one area that Microsoft's losing ground.

I don't think Gates has an answer to Microsoft being Not Cool, basically because the company never had any cool. From that point of view, it doesn't matter if he goes. However, Microsoft makes bags of money on humdrum business stuff and on the back of Windows being installed on the vast majority of PCs still. Gates departure could possibly jeopardise that business, if Ballmer, Mundie and Ozzie try to coolify Microsoft. There's just no way they'll be able to, so Microsoft will end up alienating everyone instead.

- Bill Gates' cameo in the first Doom game, cleaning up the DOS mess


China one of first stops for Gates in new philanthropy job

Regime change as Microsoft says bye-bye to Bill

Dark cloud over good works of Gates Foundation

Overseas earnings

I liked what Ernie of TUANZ said at the Telecommunications Summit held this week in Auckland. Earning Sydney wages in Auckland eh? Or better yet, London or Tokyo salaries. Some of my friends do that, and if I had any sense, I should get into that much more.

The thing is, with a bit of planning and good connectivity, you can work from wherever in the world. This is hardly earth-shattering news, especially not in 2008. Is it too late though? Thanks to oil prices going through the roof, manufacturing jobs are heading closer to the markets they're serving.

IT jobs aren't geographically bound of course, but if the big markets start to become even more inward looking, we may not be able to have our own little outsourcing success story, even if against all odds the gabfest and political slanging matches over broadband stops and networks are being built.

Downstream blog: A Sydney wage from an Auckland location

Oil Price Fallout: Jobs Coming Home?



Robert X Cringely

Facebook: What's originality got to do with it? Pity the innovators — always hounded by the jealous hordes who clamour for a sliver of their success. And so it goes with Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg, though exactly who's the innovator in this scenario is a matter of some debate. Zuckerberg is being sued by identical twins Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss (distant descendants of Rip Van Winklevoss) and Divya Narendra, co-founders of also-ran social network ConnectU. In late 2003 the Winklevoss/Narendra trio hired the 19-year-old to do some coding for their nascent network, then called Harvard Connection. They say they never received a line of code from Zuckerberg; coincidentally, in early 2004 plucky Zucky launched his own Harvard-centric social network, which he later expanded to other campuses and then the world. Now Facebook allows you to throw sheep and otherwise annoy millions of your closest personal friends, making Zuckerberg a paper billionaire, while ConnectU languishes in obscurity. ConnectU thought that smelled fishier than a three-day-old mackerel, so they sued Zuckerberg for allegedly stealing their source code. Here's the sticky part. Last February, ConnectU's founders reached a settlement with Facebook. But after a Cyber PI discovered a trail of instant messages possibly relating to the case on Zuckerberg's laptop, they had second thoughts. (Apparently, neither the PI nor ConnectU actually know what the IMs say, only that they exist.) Now a judge is deciding whether ConnectU's founders can back out of the deal, presumably so they can cut a juicier stake from the Facebook cash cow when the site goes public. If the charges are true, this wouldn't be Zuckerberg's first taste of — how should I put it — expanding on someone else's idea. While an undergrad at Harvard, Zuckerberg created a knock-off of the popular Hot or Not web site called  It used photos taken from Harvard's online student directory (which was called — wait for it — the facebook) and let other students rate their relative attractiveness or lack thereof. Facemash lasted less than a day before being pulled by college administrators, who very nearly expelled the Z-man for illegally accessing photos stored on the school's computers. Shortly thereafter he was hired by the Winklevosses, who were apparently caught napping when lucky Zucky quit a few months later and launched Facebook. It seems especially fitting that this case is in news now, given that Zuckerberg is The Next Bill Gates (spoiled, brilliant, arrogant, and whiter than the inside of an Oreo). Because Billy G. was not a guy to let a multi-billion-dollar franchise slip out of his hands just because someone else had the idea first. Remember when Microsoft got sued by Apple for "stealing" the Macintosh graphical user interface? It took five years for that case to settle. Of course, the Mac owed more than a bit of its technological inspiration to the Xerox Alto. Likewise, Borland was sued by Lotus for "stealing" the 123 interface for its Quattro spreadsheet, despite the fact that Lotus 123 owed much of its look and feel to VisiCalc. Fact is, ideas are stolen every day, and it's almost never the Joes or Janes with the original concept who end up cashing in. It's the execution of the idea that counts. And despite a few stumbles like violating its users' privacy — Facebook has been executed rather brilliantly.  If a judge or jury decide ConnectU can back out of its agreement (or was fraudulently induced to settle) and Zucky doesn't own the code he wrote, that will make the ConnectU folks much richer, but it's unlikely to do much harm to Facebook. There are simply too many friends to be annoyed and too many sheep to be thrown.

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Tags Microsoftbill gatesTUANZFryUpernie newman

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