Bill Gates – The Return?
A lot has been said since Steve Ballmer stepped down and I’m not just talking about the similarity in looks to actor Dean Norris (He’s got to play him in the inevitable “Gates” movie, right?). The main source of interest for me, is the rumor that Gates will step back into a more hands on role at Microsoft. Gates took a big step away, back in 2008 and since then, it’s debatable whether Microsoft has been able to cling onto those dizzy heights of dominance they once had in the computer software industry.
[ Steve Ballmer…or Dean Norris? ]
We’ve fairly recently lost Steve Jobs, who was an incredible inspiration to many of us and a great innovator, leader and speaker. When Jobs returned to Apple, having been famously ousted from his own company – as we’re all very aware by now – he turned Apple around. He gave Apple back that drive for innovation, creativity and he also gave them back the figurehead that they’d been missing in his absence.
I think Microsoft have got that opportunity now. Of course, I’m not saying that Microsoft are in dire straits, but they’ve got the chance to be a company that grabs hold of the industry again. Right now there’s kind of a flux. Apple are, if you believe the press and critics, starting to slump and have been since Jobs passed. Google are doing well and driving innovation throughout their product set, but still can’t take control. Adobe are still pushing, but with the imminent death of Flash, they’ll be relying on Photoshop and After Effects keeping their dream alive. Now let’s look at Microsoft.
A big game-changer for me, was going to be Microsoft Surface. I’d taken the home computing step to Apple, back in 2007 and marvelled at the power and design of their laptops, especially for film editing and rendering. Along with the iPhone and iPad, Apple were changing things dramatically. It took a long time, but Microsoft stepped into the Mobile world with Nokia and I thought they may start pushing. Integration with desktop, mobile and gaming was on the cards, surely? However, with a less than satisfactory OS and a lack of innovative thinking – in my opinion – they missed an opportunity. However, when Microsoft announced surface, I was interested again. A tablet machine, with a decent portable keyboard, at a non-restrictive price? Sounded perfect for me and I eagerly awaited the release, so I could get my hands on one. What happened? They released it as an overpriced tablet, with a so-so OS and a separate keyboard that we would have to buy. Disappointment. I wanted to buy one, I really wanted to buy one, but when they were released I lost all interest. Yes, they’ve dropped the price a little and patched the software, but they may well have missed their ‘window’.
However, there could be one thing that could get them quickly back in the game. Bill Gates. Having the founder step back in as CEO and start driving the company forward again, could have both consumers and shareholders excited again. You can see that Microsoft want a fully integrated product set, desktop, laptop, tablet, phone and games console, it’s there waiting and they have the technology, especially with the buyout of Nokia Mobile. It’s time for Gates to step back in. It’s time for him to stand up, talk about the future of computing and Microsoft and about how they’ll be creating an innovative and exciting new environment for us all to participate in. Bill Gates could put a spark back into the industry again. He could make the other’s realize that competition is out there and the game has just been re-started. Wouldn’t it be great to be in the position of seeing companies having to fight tooth and nail to become leaders in the field? I think it’s all a little too comfortable right now, with technology companies tweaking existing hardware and software, rather than leaping ahead.
On a wider scale, company founders are the company’s life source, or at least that’s the way I see it. They are the guiding light, the energy and the DNA of the company – we should never forget that. Let’s bring back the leader, the innovator, the CEO to the world. Let them take the companies by the reins and take risks, break down barriers and push for new and exciting developments. Time for us all to get excited again.