Bill Gates On Firefox vs. IE

Bill Gates has some interesting things to say about Firefox vs. Internet Explorer in this CNET interview. Responding to a question about Firefox taking away market share from IE, Gates says,

Well, people get confused about browsers. You can have as many browsers as you want on your PC, just like you can have tons of music players and things like that.
As RSS has gotten more sophisticated and value-added search capabilities have come along, this thing is really maturing.

So when people say Firefox is being downloaded onto people’s systems, that’s true, but IE is also on those systems. Firefox is new, and people are trying it out. There’s a certain percentage of people who do that–it’s very easy to download.

Yes, of course IE is on the system and a number of non-browsing applications use IE so you don’t want to necessarily delete it completely. But Gates is ignoring the point that people are adding Firefox to systems that already have IE in order to avoid using IE. The other day I had to help a non-geek client with a machine used for presentation purposes. The first question he asked was whether or not we had a non-IE browser available, because he hated using IE.

Similarly I’ve been helping a friend re-install the software on her PC which is always bloated with ActiveX spyware. They’re getting Firefox as their main browser as well. No, it doesn’t eliminate security threats, but it certainly drastically reduces the scale of what end users have to worry about.

Gates continues,

We need to keep IE the best. We need to innovate in IE, do more add-ons, do improvements. We have some very exciting plans there. Some percentage of users are going to try Firefox and IE side by side, and use the one that’s best.

In this case, Microsoft is in Netscape’s place. It has had a dominant market share for so long that it appeared to simply throw up its hand and declare “its finished — we don’t need to make any more changes.” And Firefox has really come along and showed users they don’t need to stick with Microsoft’s crappy browser for everday web browsing.

The Gates Comedy Show

Bill Gates is, of course, testifying in person during this round of the penalty phase of the Microsoft antitrust trial. He probably should have stayed home. According to the Associated Press, Gates actually testified today that the penalties proposed by the states could limit Microsoft’s ability to fix security holes in its Windows.

Gates was referring to a proposal that would require Microsoft to continue selling the previous version of Windows after it releases a new version. Gates said Microsoft wouldn’t be allowed to recall or replace a version if a major security hole is found.

First, that last sentence shoudl read that “Gates said Microsoft wouldn’t be allowed to recall or replace a version when a major security hole is found.”

Second, it is difficult to believe that security in Microsoft products could get any worse. The implication of Gates’ comments are that security holes probably still exist in previous versions of Windows such that fixing the damn things would require major rewrites of parts of the OS.

That Gates sure knows how to inspire a sense of wellbeing and security in us Windows users.

Bozo the Clown Getting a Little Sun

Today’s USA Today had a front page story about how much friction there is between Bill Gates, Larry Ellison and Scott McNealy. The best quote was from McNealy who derided Gates by saying something to the effect that even Bozo the Clown could run a monopoly.

Maybe, but Sun stockholders are still wondering why the real clown constantly makes the papers but can’t seem to keep Sun in the game. Even Gates isn’t dumb enough to think the future is still proprietary hardware solutions.