Steve Jobs is an icon for people who create the stories – news media, the influential, especially the Silicon Valley elite. Bill Gates is an icon for people whose stories you would seldom hear – say grandparents in Arkansas or kids in India.
Walk in a random street in India or many other parts of the developing world and see which name makes an instant recall – Steve Jobs or Bill Gates. Bill Gates democratized computing like no other person did – neither the UNIX folks nor the Mac folks opened computing to grandmas and poor kids alike. Thus, he is a target for the snobs.
For all the Bill Gates bashing on monopolistic attitudes of Microsoft (part of that is deserved due to the Netscape episode and its long term lock on the OS market) on the whole Microsoft did more to break up monopolies in computing & bring a very diversified market. This it did by breaking the Hardware-Software tight coupling that restricted production to only those companies with expertise in both. Breaking this coupling allowed a variety of companies ranging from Dell and Compaq to build the hardware and thousands of independent vendors to make the software. Whole national economies were impacted as East Asian countries readily jumped to hardware superiority while India and other countries took up software. It is not without reason that Windows ecosystem is so rich in diversity.
Bill Gates also found the right balance between the monarchy of Apple & IBM and the anarchy of UNIX/Linux world. In the former, getting your software built for their systems required obeisance. In the latter world, there was a long time little monetary incentive with no clear business structure.
Also, the Silicon Valley elite doesn’t use any of Microsoft products and thus it is far easy for them to ignore his contributions on building the market to which they serve.
Make no mistake – Steve Jobs is a fascinating character and he has built an extraordinary company. He deserves to be an icon for the revolutionary quality he brought to computing. In fact, even I don’t use any Microsoft product now.
But if I use Mac and Linux exclusively now, it is because I was able to start on Windows that my parents could afford and I could quickly understand. In my student days, Macs were way out of my reach and Linux distros were way too buggy to be useful for consumers [I would have to keep reinstalling those Mandrake and Debian distros every month].
Bill Gates changed lives and is changing lives at a scale that neither Silicon Valley nor the tech media writers can comprehend.
– Balaji Vishwanathan(Top Writer- Quora)
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