gates_jobs.jpgLast week the D5 Conference wrapped up with a rare sit-down interview with both Steve Jobs and Bill Gates (full transcript).

There’s been a lot of posts written about the interview. Many folks have covered their relationship or the relationship between Apple and Microsoft.

I watched the entire interview (below is a highlight reel) as well. It was great to hear them answer questions and tell stories from each of their perspectives. And it’s certainly interesting to hear the humorous moments where one took a jab at the other – like with PC Man or Zune.

But I came away with a different perspective on each man. And ultimately a richer understanding of what makes Apple and Microsoft different.For the record, I’m a Mac user. Also for the record, I don’t hate Microsoft or think of Bill Gates as a bad man (though I think Steve Ballmer is a bit scary). With Microsoft I’m simply frustrated…frustrated that as a whole they can’t design products that work as effectively and efficiently as Apple does. And the design appeal goes without mention.

And that gets to the core of what I learned watching Steve Jobs and Bill Gates discuss how they see the computer industry.

jobs_gates.jpgBill Gates sees the world as a software engineer. And his focus seems to be on what software can do in interacting with the computer. He admits in the interview that “…if you look inside my brain, it's filled with software and, you know, the magic of software and the belief in software.”

Steve Jobs, however sees the world from the perspective of the user. For Jobs software is important. But what’s most important is how the user (you and I) will actually interact with the software.

That’s easy to see in the Mac, the iPod and the coming iPhone. It’s certainly about software for Jobs, but software to enhance and make easier the user experience.

I had never seen that so clearly before until I watched the interview. But Gates seems to know that about himself and Jobs. At one point he said, “I'd give a lot to have Steve's taste. [laughter] He has natural–it's not a joke at all. I think in terms of intuitive taste, both for people and products… We sat in Mac product reviews where there were questions about software choices, how things would be done that I viewed as an engineering question, you know, and that's just how my mind works. And I'd see Steve make the decision based on a sense of people and product that, you know, is even hard for me to explain. The way he does things is just different and, you know, I think it's magical. And in that case, wow.”

And there you have the difference between Microsoft and Apple.

Turning it back to conversational blogging…is it about the software we use or the experience our users have? Where does the conversation happen?

If you’re interested in the full interview, here it is in 8 parts…

UPDATE: If you use iTunes Music Store, here are direct links to the podcast and video podcast. Thanks to Mike Rohde for letting me know they’re available. And, this is the only way I know to see the video in its entirety.

Reader Interactions


  1. Jean Browman says

    “…is it about the software we use or the experience our users have? Where does the conversation happen?”

    Sure, the conversation happens interacting with the user, but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy the technical challenges, too. I couldn’t do most of the volunteer work I do if I hadn’t been willing to go through the steep learning curve for my Adobe products. And I’m still expanding my knowledge so I have more tools at my fingertips. It’s not an either/or thing. For me it’s about balance.

  2. Lyle Lachmuth - The Unsticking Coach says

    Yep, Steve has taste and Bill is an Engineer.

    It’s like the old joke, “You can always tell an engineer… but you can’t tell ’em much.”

    I love Macs.

    But, having worked on IBM based equipment all my life, 40+ years now, I feel permanently conditioned to think in DOS, MVS, and all those ‘linear, left-brain’ ways.


    It just feels so painful to change. Yeah. I know that’s just an ‘excuse’ but it works for me. 😉


  3. Mike Rohde says

    The entire video and an audio podcast version are now available in the iTunes store for free, if having to watch little chunks bugs anyone as much as it did me. 🙂

  4. Dawud Miracle says


    Thanks. I just downloaded the podcast and the 1GB vCast is on its way. I thought this interview was a classic and definitely want to keep it around the watch again.

  5. Dawud Miracle says


    Sure. I simply think of technology as being a means for conversation and relationship.


    I know. I was raised on DOS and later Windows. I always thought the Mac as inferior. Then I was forced to use one – on OS 9 – to, oddly enough, build my first couple of websites. It took no time to fall in love with the Mac. And now I’ve never looked back. Of course, I have XP on my Mac for testing sites and training clients. But that’s really it.

    The difference for me is in the user experience. What I learned about myself from using a Mac is that I never consider how important it was before. I quite literally enjoy using my Mac – everyday. But I don’t enjoy using Windows when I have too.

  6. Adam Kayce : Monk At Work says

    “is it about the software we use or the experience our users have?”

    Great observation. That’s the crux of it right there, and why I so happily switched back to Mac a few years ago (from a dell-laden gulag… oh, don’t take me back there…)

    I just downloaded the video, and will give it a look-see asap.

    Oh, and Lyle — do it, man, switch back! It’s easy, and you’ll be amazed you stayed away for so long. There’s really no reason, if your heart’s in Macland.

    (and hey, for pc-lovers, don’t get me wrong; if your heart is there, enjoy yourself. The world’s big enough for us all to have our own tribe…)

  7. Dawud Miracle says


    I really think it’s the user experience that separates Apple from Microsoft. Are Macs better? I don’t know. They are for me. But for someone else???

    I can tell you that the days of having no software for the Mac or compatibility problems between Mac and Windows is far over. They are almost fully compatible. Macs will even find and auto mount a Windows network. Pretty amazing.

  8. Mark Silver says

    Thanks for bringing this to my attention, Dawud. I’m an Apple user from back in the Apple ][+ days, and before that I first tried programming on an old IBM 5110 (with 8 inch floppy disks and a 5″ screen, what used to be called a ‘mini-computer.)

    I just mention that to say that I’ve watched both Apple and Microsoft grow up over the years, and I’ve been repeatedly frustrated by both: frustrated by Microsoft for the reasons you mention, and frustrated with Apple that they don’t get ‘business model.’

    Apple has repeatedly released some of the most innovative hardware designs over the last 2-3 decades. And yet, because they think ‘artist’ and not ‘business’ in many cases, they hold onto proprietary rights, and miss the chance to create more love with third party creators that could’ve helped Microsoft and Apple share from each other more.

    They started to get it with iTunes, but I’m afraid they are going to try to hold onto the whole bag still, and lose it in this increasingly open-source world we’re living in.

    Ah well. On most days, I have room for my own imperfections. I guess I do for Bill and Steve, too. 🙂

    Thanks again for letting my take a little retrospective tour.

  9. Mark Silver says

    It’s true, Dawud. I am happy that Apple is Apple, and you make some really good points.

    And, I think that sometimes the level of control they exert goes a little beyond what’s needed for system integrity, and into artistic control issues.

    Steve Jobs can be as extreme as Bill Gates, in his own way. Microsoft has faced anti-trust suits for trying to control everything. I’m thinking that is mirrored in Steve Jobs as well.

    I’m not an engineer, and I have no idea where the line lies between quality control and the tight-grip of over-control. I just suspect Apple is sometimes a little over the line.

    And, I’m extremely grateful as I sit here happily using my iMac.

  10. Dawud Miracle says


    In some ways I agree. But for Apple to be Apple and create what’s quite literally the best GUI OS in the world, they need proprietary control over both hardware and software.

    Not being able to have control over what hardware their software goes on is much of the reason Microsoft has to ship inferior products – at least from the OS perspective.

    Remember, Apple is writing an OS for a small, specific set of hardware which they’ve chosen for manufacturing and have thoroughly tested.

    Microsoft, on the other hand, has to create an operating system that sits on, quite literally, an infinite combination of hardware (motherboards, processors, graphics cards, hard drives, controllers, etc…). That means the parameters they face are far and way more complex than Apple. Which is why Windows falters again and again.

    There are other reasons. I think the interview clearly illustrates the difference in each’s philosophy. Microsoft is a software house, while Apple designs user experiences. Ultimately, I don’t see how one could do business differently without changing their business focus.

    I’m just happy that Apple is Apple.

  11. Dawud Miracle says


    Sure. From what I’ve heard, Steve Jobs insists on absolute quality and pushes his teams to create the products you and I enjoy so much. He definitely seems to have a tight hold on Apple. But I’m fine with that as long as Apple continues to move in the directions they are.

  12. Tavanza says

    It’s a shame to see Gates leave MS, but I also see it as a chance for the company to grow. Microsoft needs a new vision.

  13. Resume says

    Ya it is a shame to see gates leaving microsoft but i dont find any chance of keeping up the standard or would still compete in the race. I think this is the time when apple can take it to the next level as for as O.S is concerned.

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