Have I already said “all good things tm must come to an end”? Yes, I have, of course. After more than 33 years of indisputed lead over the world's largest software maker, Willam H. Gates III — or simply Bill Gates –, has resigned from any executive position in Microsoft.
While I claim credit for at least a couple gray hair in his scalp — maybe a couple decimals away from the value of his stock portfolio — , I must say that the end of an era casts a shade of sadness on me. But at least the man is in good shape, so apparently is his corporate breed.
How will the Gates-less company be? My first answer is: more Gates-like than ever. But I have seen contrasting events that I am still far from fully understand. From one side, frightening reports of old anticompetitive behaviour as if we were back in the good'ol early nineties (quite scary, if true, and I get them from reliable sources); from another side, more friendly approaches to Free (open source) Software makers and a softer line in general towards competitors and competition-watchdogs.
Is possibly Microsoft a multi-souled corporation, then? Hardly so. A corporation has no soul, is there just to make profit and to please stakeholders, or this seems to be the attitude in Redmond, WA. I am entirely fine with it, there is no obligation to be merciful on others, only abidance to the law is mandatory. Of course, if one trespasses the limits, it must not cry out loud when caught red-hand. But this is not the point. A larger corporation — and Microsoft is large by any comparison — is always based on diverse high level management. An explanation of the contradictory behaviour I have seen could be in that: a part of the corporation wants to keep the upper hand in competition by any means, another wants to get rid of a questionable (and questioned on many accounts) past ASAP. Guess who I hope will win?
For the time being, I wish Bill Gates good luck, and if he finds some spare millions in an old pair of trousers, why not send them to a couple of Free Software charities I can suggest? It will not save his soul in the Software Heavens (I don't dare any judgment on the “official” one), but it will certainly help. I am afraid his corporate legacy will pull on the opposite direction for some more years.