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Bill Gates answers the one biggest thing he'd change during time at Microsoft with hindsight

Daisy Phillipson

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Bill Gates answers the one biggest thing he'd change during time at Microsoft with hindsight

Featured Image Credit: Gary Doak/StockStudio/Alamy

Bill Gates has opened up about the one biggest thing he'd change during his time at Microsoft with hindsight.

Our lives are pretty much governed by technology these days, and Gates' role as co-founder of the technology corporation played a major role in that.

After founding the company in 1975, the businessman stepped down as CEO in 2000 to focus more on his philanthropy work.

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He then left his full-time Microsoft role in 2008 and completely cut ties in 2020 by dropping his seat as board director.

Bill Gates has revealed the one thing he'd change about Microsoft in hindsight. Credit: Creative Commons
Bill Gates has revealed the one thing he'd change about Microsoft in hindsight. Credit: Creative Commons

Obviously a lot of time has passed since his days as CEO and so when he took part in his latest Ask Me Anything thread on Reddit, people wanted to know if there's anything he'd change if he could go back.

As asked by one commenter: "Mr Gates, with the benefit of hindsight regarding your years of involvement with Microsoft, what is the single biggest thing you wish you had done differently?"

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The 67-year-old tech expert was more than willing to oblige, explaining: "I was CEO until 2000. I certainly know a lot now that I didn't back then."

As for the biggest thing he would change in retrospect, he said it would be letting 'Android win' by not going forward with Microsoft phone operating systems.

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You see, even though the company's desktop operating system was a key fixture of Microsoft's long-running history, it missed out on being the second-biggest mobile operating system provider after Apple, leaving Android to take the spot.

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Gates also mentioned in his AMA that he wished Microsoft could have 'settled the antitrust lawsuit sooner', something he previously suggested was a distraction at a time when mobile computing was taking off.

The trial, which was decided in 2001, saw the US government accuse Microsoft of illegally maintaining its monopoly position in the PC market.

An initial inquiry highlighted the legal and technical restrictions the company put on the abilities of PC manufacturers (OEMs) and users to uninstall Internet Explorer and use other programs such as Netscape and Java.

Speaking about the impact this case had on the company's mobile development at an Economic Club of Washington lunch in 2019, Gates explained: "We’re in the field of doing operating systems for personal computers.

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Microsoft could have been one of the biggest mobile operating systems providers. Credit: Unsplash
Microsoft could have been one of the biggest mobile operating systems providers. Credit: Unsplash

"We knew the mobile phone would be very popular, and so we were doing what was called Windows Mobile.

"We missed being the dominant mobile operating system by a very tiny amount.

"We were distracted during our antitrust trial. We didn’t assign the best people to do the work. So it’s the biggest mistake I made in terms of something that was clearly within our skill set.

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"We were clearly the company that should have achieved that, and we didn’t.

"We allowed this Motorola design win, and therefore the software momentum to go to Android, and so it became the dominant non-Apple mobile phone operating system globally."

Topics: News, Technology, Microsoft, Bill Gates, Phones

Daisy Phillipson
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