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As Gates Steps Out, Tributes Roll In

We intentionally gave, or tried to give, this entry a New York Times-sounding headline -- they always seem to start with a dependent clause -- because this is one of those times when the big-name, mainstream, non-business media are storming into our territory.

Oh, sure, the Newsweeks of the world write about technology a lot more frequently than they used to, but they still mainly show up just for the big events -- enormous product launches, executive departures and arrivals, earnings disasters (or, less frequently, blockbusters), that sort of thing. Down here in the trades, we grind out technology news every day. Only relatively rarely are we visited by our friends in the big-time.

Metaphorically speaking, we trade hacks are there for NBA regular-season games in Minnesota in January, while Newsweek only bothers to waltz in when the Finals are on. And yet, because they are who they are, the big guys get the exclusive interviews with Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, while we're stuck crowding around Brian Scalabrine, trying to get a quote. (And, yes, this paragraph is brought to you in honor of the World Champion Boston Celtics. We love you, Paul, KG...and Scal.)

So, with Bill Gates, icon among icons, finally finishing the longest victory lap in industry history, the big guns are all over the story. This week in particular, Newsweek has unleashed a long and, we're sure, interesting (we haven't read the whole thing yet) story on the future of Microsoft without Gates...and of Gates without Microsoft.

The big N, whose little logo on the Firefox tab makes us think of the Nebraska Cornhuskers, also offers an update on the folks in the famous Microsoft photo from 1978. You know, the photo that's made the rounds on the Internet thousands of times over the last few years and has even turned up in an ad or two. There's even a 2008 (or, at least, more recent) version of the photo.

Big ol' TV network ABC is in on the act, too -- albeit with an article written by somebody at PC World; hooray for the hacks! -- with an article sorting out the myths and realities of what Gates has and hasn't said over the years.

(Actually, we're pretty sure that tech mondo-publisher IDG has a deal with some of the big news sources like The New York Times and ABC because we see trade articles on those mega-sites all the time, so this doesn't really count as the mainstream media invading our space. But we're trying to stick with a theme here.)

And even a regular Computerworld blogger gets into the spirit of things with an entry on Gates' five dumbest decisions, which we find a little funny given that most executives in any industry would give their left, um, eyes to have even been in the position to make dumb decisions and still end up with more money than anybody else in the world.

There are tons more of these Gates end-of-an-era things floating around, but those were the ones that stood out to us. In case you were wondering, we at RCP the magazine are planning our own story on this topic, but we're focusing on Microsoft's current technological and leadership transition and not so much on Gates himself. (By the way, if you have any thoughts on post-Gates, Ray Ozzie, cloud-computing, virtual Microsoft, send them to lpender@rcpmag.com ASAP. Thanks.)

Frankly, we'll be glad when all the glamour magazines and fancy Web sites clear out of here and let us get back to the grind. And, as for RCPU's take on Gates -- well, his legacy speaks for itself, as does Microsoft's success and current position on top of the software mountain. There's not really a lot for us to say that hasn't been said (or won't be said, over and over again), so, for once...we're not saying anything at all.

Posted by Lee Pender on June 24, 2008 at 11:54 AM