Jun 26, 2008 (02:06 PM EDT)
Hospital Implements High-Tech Emergency Response System

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InformationWeek Daily - Thursday, June 26, 2008


Editor's Note

Bill Gates Revealed: A Few Things You Didn't Know

I've had occasion to chat with Bill Gates a number of times over the years, and there's often a point when something unexpected happens. He's been brutally honest, occasionally evasive, and surreptitiously a nice guy. As Gates gets ready to ride off into the software sunset, here are a few anecdotes that stand out.

Bill Gates is retiring five years earlier than planned. It's an obscure fact, but true. Back in August of 2003, in a luncheon speech at the Detroit Economic Club, Gates said he had "a little more than 10 years" left in his software "career." The math is simple -- that would be 2013. A mere three years after that speech, however, Gates surprised the business world with his announcement of a 2008 retirement, five years earlier than indicated. New York Times reporter John Markoff caught this discrepancy. It was the first question out of Markoff's mouth at Gates' retirement news conference, but Gates said he didn't recall his earlier statement, and the subject was dropped. See my blog,"Bill Gates Waves Goodbye Earlier Than Planned," for all the details.

Bill Gates and Scott McNealy weren't really archenemies. In January of 1996, I was on Sun's campus for a day of interviews. This was at the height of the Sun v. Microsoft wars, and speculation was that Sun was negotiating to acquire Apple. McNealy, however, was relaxed and eating frozen yogurt during our interview. His first son, Maverick, had been born a few months earlier, and McNealy excitedly went to a corner of his office to show me something. It was a hand-written note from Bill Gates congratulating him the new arrival.

Bill Gates dodged only one question. In 2003, IT departments were spending hours patching buggy Windows PCs. One CIO I know crunched the numbers and said he was going to bill Microsoft for the work put in by his staff. So I asked Gates whether other business customers were making their own demands for reimbursement. "Is this something you're talking to business customers about -- somehow taking some of the financial responsibility for the work they're having to do?" After a very long pause, Gates answered: "We're very focused on doing our best to avoid these problems. That's our focus." It's the only time he completely sidestepped a question during one of our interviews.

Read the rest of my blog post to find out about the calculator in Bill Gates' head, why he rated his own software so low, and when he turned into a two-fisted drinker. And tell me your own Bill Gates anecdote in the comments section.

John Foley
jpfoley@techweb.com
www.informationweek.com

Quote of The Day

"Just because your voice reaches halfway around the world doesn't mean you are wiser than when it reached only to the end of the bar."
-- Edward R. Murrow

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