Turns out Microsoft knew that it had a sucker in its negotiations with IBM right from the start.
Asked whether he thought IBM made a mistake by not buying operating software from Microsoft as opposed to licensing it, Rubenstein asked.
"Yeah they certainly made a mistake," he said, triggering a moment of audience laughter. "But IBM is a great company that's done many, many great things. The actual project that did the IBM PC was started by the IBM management committee more to prove that they could do products quickly. They were seeing 4 year cycles bet when they decided to do something and something shipped."
Gates's famously sharp business acumen served him well in what was a fluid situation -- this would be IBM's initial attempt to try its hand in the nascent personal computer market and he understood that Big Blue's goal was to deliver something out "really quickly" as it tested the prospects of a market it underestimated.
We know how the rest of that story turned out.