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Bill Gates on iPad: "it's okay"

updated 02:10 pm EDT, Wed April 21, 2010

Microsoft founder ambivalent on Apple tablet

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates in a new interview offered up mixed praise for the iPad. When asked his opinion, he said that "it's okay" and characterized it more as an attractive design than a truly useful product. He wasn't certain how it could be used compared to other computing devices.

"The scenarios aren't that clear," Gates told SFGate. "But it's good looking. [Steve Jobs] does good design, and [the iPad] is absolutely a good example of that."

Apple's early performance with the iPad may nonetheless contrast sharply with Gates' own approach to tablets. He is widely credited with Microsoft's strong focus on its Tablet PC concept from 2002 onwards and, while still active at Microsoft, made sure that there were at first tablet versions of Windows XP and would have had some influence when integrating tablet support directly into regular versions of Vista. However, no Tablet PC has gained strong widespread appeal, and most systems have been confined to specialty markets such as hospitals and warehouses.

Apple is known to have sold at least 500,000 iPads in the first 10 days after launch and, according to unofficial estimates by Chitika, may have already passed the million-unit mark.

by MacNN Staff



  1. fizzy

    Joined: Dec 1969


    he means...

    "I don't think you could run Office on this, and that's all I know about... anyway, why are you asking me? I'm retired now. Enough with the computers already."

  1. WiseWeasel

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Who'd have thunk it; a tablet with an OS that runs apps designed for use on a tablet, and not with a mouse and keyboard.

  1. BelugaShark

    Joined: Dec 1969



    There is no link between intelligence and wealth, but there seems to be one between wealth and ego.

  1. DanielSw

    Joined: Dec 1969


    What else could the poor guy say?

    It was a geeky, yet diplomatic response.

  1. qazwart

    Joined: Dec 1969


    What do you expect him to say?

    "Wow, this thing runs rings around any of the c*** we built. No wonder why people are buying this. I'll tell my Balmer to shut down the whole tablet PC group. Boy did we waste a lot of money on our tablet PC concept."

    He gave it what you'd expect: He gave it some faint praise and questioned its utility although he did say it was a nice design.

    Microsoft will be taking a slightly different approach with the tablet PC market. They know they can't out Apple Apple, so they'll compete on price and features. The Tablet PC will run Windows. It will have more port. You can run your regular Windows programs. It will be a bit cheaper.

    Besides, I'm not 100% if Microsoft "gets it". Gates had originally criticized the iPhone and iPad for not having a stylus -- something that the Courier concept has. The Courier is also more "work oriented" than the iPad. I don't think Microsoft quite understands the market too well once you leave the cubicle.

  1. BMWTwisty

    Joined: Dec 1969


    re: What else could the poor guy say?

    @DanielSw: that about sums it up. I would, however, give my forthcoming iPad to be a fly on Ballmer's wall today

  1. rtamesis

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Gates probably never even used the iPad. He banned the iPhone from his home, so why would the iPad be any different.

  1. iphonerulez

    Joined: Dec 1969


    At least he didn't say it sucked...

    Still, calling the iPad as not a truly useful product is an odd answer. It's like calling an bar of soap not being a truly useful product. Or maybe a can of beer not being a truly useful product. If a product does what it's designed to do then it's a useful product and if it does those functions well, then even better. If he is basing usefulness of the iPad on being able to run desktop applications then he is way off-base. I'll be interested in what he has to say about the usefulness of the HP Slate.

    I can understand if he hasn't used an iPad then he's just basing his opinion on what he's heard about the iPad. Fair enough. Of course, it doesn't really matter what he thinks about the iPad as long as the millions of future iPad purchasers find the product useful.

  1. pairof9s

    Joined: Dec 1969



    "My Microsoft SmartWatch is better!"

  1. Fonejacker

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Where are the Tablet PCs??

    I think the Tablet PCs should be renamed the "Bin Ladens". You know they exist, but no one has seen them. Has anyone seen one working anywhere? I haven't in the last 6 years. Not sure they ever did exist, just a lot of talk and little else. Microcopy are so out of their depth when it comes to innovation. Looks like Apple will be worth than Microcopy within 12 months. Then onto Exxon Mobil.

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