As Bill Gates leaves Microsoft today, it’s fascinating to watch the media’s treatment of him. While just a few years ago, he was reviled as a rapacious monopolist, he’s now treated as an elder statesman. Much of that undoubtedly has to do with the good work he’s doing with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. But a lot of it, I believe, also has to do with real changes that have occurred at Microsoft. The company is far more open than it was back in the early days of this century, releasing public betas of many of its products and encouraging developers to blog. The colossal failure of Vista, as well as Microsoft’s underdog status in the search market (not to mention the Zune), also help make the company seem like less of a monolithic threatening force. Microsoft may still be a powerhouse, but the company doesn’t always get what it wants, and doesn’t even dominate some core markets in which it competes. So, it’s easy to bid Bill a wistful farewell, and muse, as Engadget does today, on Microsoft’s best and worst hits of the Gates era.
Archive for June, 2008
I don’t watch a lot of TV, but what I do watch means a lot to me. And one thing that I’ve been watching for years is MSNBC’s election coverage. It’s a tradition I began during the long 2000 election, when I turned to the channel just about every night for the latest news on the Florida recount. And, of course, it was Tim Russert (along with Darrell Hammond and Will Ferrell) who kept me informed about the latest twists and turns of that endless—and ultimately futile—process. Later, Russert guided me through more elections, including this year’s seemingly endless primary. For me, the primary ended not when Barack Obama gave his victory speech, or when Hillary Clinton finally conceded, but when Russert declared it over after the North Carolina primary: “We now know who the Democratic nominee will be. And no one is going to dispute it.” Such was Russert’s authority that many people did indeed consider the primary season over at that point (though, of course, others continued to dispute it). Though I respected Russert’s authority, that’s not what kept drawing me back to MSNBC election after election. It was his boyish excitement, the way you could tell he just loved what he was doing. Other journalists would take on a studied cynical pose, or make breathless pronouncements, but not Russert. He was always, as Rachel Sklar recently described him, “the happiest guy at the primary.” That’s how I’ll remember him. And I’m sure I’ll do so whenever I watch election coverage, this year, and every year from now on.