June 15, 2006 5:45 PM PDT

Most in industry letting Gates go quietly

Few individuals are as identified with their respective industries as Bill Gates is with the PC sector.

Andrew Carnegie and steel mills, Henry Ford and cars and Gordon Moore and transistors come to mind as possible comparisons. But Bill Gates' Windows operating system is the dominant product of its age, running well over 90 percent of the PCs in the world and inspiring praise, venom and legal tangles during various points in Gates' tenure in the industry.

Special coverage: The end of the Gates era

Analysts and observers couldn't help but offer their thoughts on the legacy left by Gates after he announced plans Thursday to step down from a day-to-day role at Microsoft in 2008. "This is probably a once-in-a-generation guy," said John Reimer, an analyst with Forrester Research.

Said Umesh Ramakrishnan, vice chairman of executive search firm Christian and Timbers, "Bill Gates is bigger than life. He has led what for this generation has been the most storied technology firm."

And Richard Shim, an analyst with IDC, added, "I think of what a great businessman he was, but not necessarily what a great technologist he was."

Despite such characterizations, Gates' announcement provoked a muted reaction from the industry players who stood by his products--as well as those who clashed with his strategies.

News.com Poll

Bill Gates has set a timetable to end his day-to-day work at Microsoft. Do you agree with his plans?

Too soon. There's no one else who can fill his shoes.
Not soon enough. He should have left years ago.
Just about right. The company's in capable hands with Ballmer, Ozzie and crew.



View results

On the hardware side, Dell and Hewlett-Packard declined to comment on the historic shift at the helm of one of their largest partners. Intel and Advanced Micro Devices had no immediate comment on Gates' announcement.

Gateway noted Gates' announcement with a brief statement. "Microsoft remains a valued Gateway partner, and we're confident they will put the right team in place to continue moving the company and its products forward," said Greg Memo, senior vice president of products for the PC maker.

Apple Computer, one of Microsoft's most public foes, resisted the temptation to mark Gates' announcement, declining to comment through a representative. Another one-time Gates combatant, lawyer Gary Reback, did take some time to reflect on Gates' legacy. Reback helped the government prepare its antitrust case against Microsoft in the 1990s.

"It certainly sounds like it is the passing of an era. Ray Ozzie is a top-notch technologist and Craig Mundie is superb...but he (Gates) has been the driving force of that company since it started," Reback said. "So, it's certainly both a time for reflection and a time to wonder what's ahead."

Marc Benioff, chairman and CEO of Salesforce.com, referred to IBM's famous founder in describing Gates. "The industry has been fortunate to have the technical, business and philanthropic leadership of Bill Gates--he is the Thomas Watson of our generation."

Most of Gates' newer foes chose not to recognize the transition with formal statements. A Google representative did not immediately return a call seeking comment, and Yahoo declined to comment through a representative. Software enemies like Oracle and Red Hat likewise could not be reached for remarks.

Despite the lack of public statements, Gates certainly had an effect on just about anyone who has used a PC, said Azure Capital's Mike Kwatinetz. "Before Microsoft and Gates, technology was not democratized as it is today," he said in an e-mail. "That is probably his greatest achievement: making the PC pervasive, affordable, available to every household in America and very easy to use."

See more CNET content tagged:
Bill Gates, announcement, representative, Gateway Inc., Microsoft Corp.

5 comments

Join the conversation!
Add your comment
Admiration and Jealousy
I am in utter admiration and jealousy of a man who has achieved so much. He was the chief architect of this era and his influence/direction is affecting all of us as we operate a pc today. In the end, however, I truly respected the man he is becoming. His charitable work and his desire to help humanity is a great quality. I truly believe that at the end of the day, he did a great job as the founder of Microsoft and he will do an even better job as an unheralded revolutionary in the management and administration of global charitable ventures. I did not always like his company or their methods but when one reflects on it, it is easy to see how we might...just might...be just as competitive as he was with his rivals. I wish him and Melinda the best in their new venture.
Posted by rgor (332 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Oh puhleese, I'm going to be sick...
Gates is a convicted criminal. A thief. He deserves no praise. He still
steal more each day than he gives.
Posted by CentrOS (126 comments )
Link Flag
Ridiculous.
He's no visionary. He's a money maker/business man.
This guy was born with a silver spoon in his mouth.
He never worked hard at creating software really.. just stealing
others ideas.

I can't believe the crud this article conveys of Bill Gates.

I certainly hope all this talk if him as an Innovator is not written
in the history books. Most of it is a complete false hood.
Posted by ServedUp (413 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Ridiculous..
He's no visionary. He's a money maker/business man.
This guy was born with a silver spoon in his mouth.
He never worked hard at creating software really.. just stealing
others ideas.

I can't believe the crud this article conveys of Bill Gates.

I certainly hope all this talk if him as an Innovator is not written
in the history books. Most of it is a complete false hood.
Posted by ServedUp (413 comments )
Reply Link Flag
MS *S*U*C*K*S
Well. I guess he expects Vista's failure.
Posted by 206538395198018178908092208948 (141 comments )
Link Flag
 

Join the conversation

Add your comment

The posting of advertisements, profanity, or personal attacks is prohibited. Click here to review our Terms of Use.

What's Hot

Discussions

Shared

RSS Feeds

Add headlines from CNET News to your homepage or feedreader.