A dose of humility can go a long way, particularly when you're Bill Gates.
The Microsoft co-founder and Harvard dropout recently made a startling admission during an appearance at his almost alma mater when he declared the Control+Alt+Delete function used to reboot PCs was a mistake. Okay, Gates blamed the keyboard move -- which requires using two hands unless you're a computer-savvy octopus -- on an IBM engineer but, hey, it's a start. I didn't think Gates was capable of saying he was wrong; after all this was the guy who, as leader of Microsoft, was perfectly okay with three hour hold times for users forced to call technical support after their computers froze while playing Microsoft Solitaire during conference calls.
Since Gates appears to be in confession mode, I feel it's time for him to wipe the slate clean. Yes, Microsoft brought the world numerous innovations that have enriched our lives -- the "copy and paste" function comes to mind -- but I would feel so much better if Gates threw himself on the mercy of the public and acknowledged ALL of the company's shortcomings during his reign of geek-ness. True, he may end up speaking longer than Sen. Ted Cruz, but I could get him started:
"Thank you, World, for logging on today to hear my confession. For those of you having difficulty with the login process, that's confession number one: Internet Explorer sucks.
"Confession number two: I knew all along about a little hiccup in Microsoft Word. But I didn't know it would cause graduate students to lose their entire thesis papers 45 minutes before they were due. For those of you who suffered permanent disfigurement when you drove your fist through a computer monitor, I am truly sorry.
"I apologize for the 'blue screen of death' that contained unintelligible messages like 'Fatal Error X01XXXXX000003.' Had I known some users would actually die from burst blood vessels upon seeing that screen, I would have replaced it with something more soothing: a purring kitten perhaps.
"I apologize for the paper clip that mockingly questioned your decision to exit a program, asking, 'Are you sure?' We thought it was a safety feature; in reality, I should have known that nobody likes to feel belittled by an office supply product.
"I apologize for Windows 98. When we released it, most people, myself included, were still trying to master the intricacies of Windows 95. Our next version should have been called 'Windows 2011 -- Install It If You Dare.'
"I apologize for creating Microsoft PowerPoint. All it did was extend business meetings fourfold and wrongly convince company CEOs that they were dynamic speakers simply because they now had the ability to illustrate layoff figures with pie charts.
"I apologize that Microsoft Publisher gave you the ability to bypass a professional printer and create your own wedding invitations. Your frugality caused many people to skip your wedding by assuming, correctly, that your homemade invitations meant you were also employing a cash bar at the reception.
"I apologize for Microsoft Excel. Where do I even begin?
"I apologize for XBox. To all kids and male adults who spend hours playing Halo and all of its reincarnations, I have a message: Put the joystick down and go outside. A little sunlight will do your body good. So will a little human interaction.
"Finally, and this is a biggie, I apologize for my oft-quoted vision of 'a computer on every desk and in every home, all running Microsoft software.' Looking back, I realize we were doing just fine with typewriters, carbon paper and Post-It notes. Deadlines were achieved, the stock market still hummed along and children didn't learn by saying, 'I'll just look it up online.' In a 1994 Playboy interview, I alluded to doing some mind altering substances while at Harvard. Perhaps I should have taken the high road and just said 'no.' Drugs make you do strange things.
"Like talk to a paper clip."
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