Miner Thoughts
My Mac Magazine #29, Sept. ’97

So what’s it gonna be: AppleSoft, MicroApple, SoftApple, MacinSoft, AppleMicro, MicroMaco, SoftMac, SoftIntosh, RottenApple, or KissMyApple? Hard to say but one thing is certain: we, the common folk, will be the last to know. That’s why they call us end users.

Sure, it may be a bit premature to be thinking that a name change for either Steve Jobs’ Apple (I think it’s safe to assume that Steve is calling the shots at Apple no matter what his title), or Billy’s Microsoft is in the making, but is that any more unbelievable than what was just announced in Boston?

By the time you read this, you’ll probably be sick of listening to everyone in the industry tell you what this whole semi-merger of Apple and Microsoft means so I won’t bore you with my analysis of the situation. (Even if I had one!) Instead, I’d like to discuss the two major characters of this soon-to-be highly rated sitcom/soap-opera.

Let me refresh your memory with a few quotes from these two computer giants and how they felt about each other as recently as 1996.

“He’s put a microprocessor in a box… So what?”
-Gates, on Jobs’ new computer from Next Computer, in the October 1988 Newsweek.

“In the grand scope of things, most of these features are truly trivial.”
-Gates, on the Next computer, Wall Street Journal, Oct. 13, 1988.

“Steve always yells at me… Sometimes with a positive tone in his voice, sometimes a negative tone.”
-Gates, October 1988 Newsweek.

“Bill, I don’t think you could have picked a worse time …to announce this.”
-Jobs to Gates referring to Gates’ decision to reveal a new software font technology, the Washington Post, Sept. 27 ,1989.

“We took a font technology that, Steve, you should look at because it’s far better.”
-Gates’ retort

“I still think that tens of millions of PC owners needlessly use a computer that is far less good than it should be.”
-Jobs, on the Windows operating system, Aug. 26, 1991, Fortune Magazine

“Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me… Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful… that’s what matters to me.”
– Jobs, on Gates and Microsoft , Wall Street Journal, summer 1993

“Gates has no “taste”.”
-Jobs in interview with author Robert X. Cringley, 1996.

Does this sound to you like two people anxious to jump into the corporate sack with each other? It doesn’t to me! So how did it get from dissin’ and name calling, to having the once ousted but obviously rehabilitated Steve Jobs standing on the podium at the Boston Macworld Expo, preaching the new Apple religion while Billy Gates appeared on a large satellite-fed screen behind him? Beats me, but I think it’s going to be fun to watch.

Apparently, according to Steve Jobs, the new Apple religion is based on the creed that Microsoft is no longer the devil. I contend this will be true only until Steve or Bill says or does something to irritate the other, at which point things will undoubtedly start to go to hell and Billy’s horns will once again begin to show.

The meager sum of $150 million that Microsoft put on Apple’s table was only a token gesture that Jobs insisted on. It was merely a symbol to show that Microsoft was serious about this alliance and willing to back it up with a capital investment. In reality, it doesn’t amount to much more than pocket change to either one of these high rollers. In fact, my sources tell me that when Bill Gates finally agreed to make the investment, he reached into his wallet and counted out 150 million dollar bills and threw them on the table saying, “There, satisfied? Now show me how you do that drag and drop thing with the Mac OS.”

My source also tells me that Steve Jobs isn’t so quick to relinquish any of Apple’s secrets. I’m told that as Jobs picked up the bills and stuffed them into his pockets he retorted with, “Not so fast there, Billy. You must prove to me that you’re serious about producing your Office suite of software for the Macintosh before I go letting you in on our OS secrets.”

The bantering continued according to my source.

“I said I would, didn’t I? What more do you want?” Gates answered.

“Yeah, well, when I see it and decide it ain’t just some scaled down sloppy piece of Windoze garbage, maybe then we can talk about you visiting our OS department.”

“Hey, now wait just one cotton-pickin’ minute here!” exclaimed Gates. “I need some sort of commitment from Apple right now for that 150 mil I just parted with.”

My source goes on to tell me that at this point in the negotiations, Steve Jobs flashed his little boy grin at Gates and said, “Cool your jets, Billy. I think you’re going to like the commitment we here at Apple will initially make to Micros…, ahh Microsoof…, I mean Microsoft.” (My source tells me Steve Jobs had a difficult time getting that word out.)

“And what might that be?” asked Gates.

“We’ve decided to make that stupid browser of yours, what’s it called… Internet Explorer? Yeah that’s it, we’re going to make your Internet Explorer the “default” browser for all Mac users from now on. How ’bout those apples, Billy? No pun intended.”, answered Jobs.

“Okay, I can live with that for a start.” said Gates. But if my Internet Explorer is stupid, what does that make your Cyberdog?”

“Uhh…, I had nothing to do with that, Bill, but your point is well taken. My apologies.” Steve said.

My source told me the rest of the meeting was uneventful and ended with a feeling of optimistic skepticism on both sides. Whatever the heck that means!

Ain’t this gonna be fun to watch in the months ahead? I sure think so.

I ‘spose you’re all wondering who my inside source is on this story, so even though I’ve been sworn to secrecy not to reveal my source, I figure you’re all friends of mine so I’ll tell you anyway. My source is a little voice in the back of my head that tells me what’s been going on at these high level meetings between Bill and Steve. The voice sounds a little like me so I suspect it must be a relative which means it must be a reliable source, right? Or not!

Pete Miner (pete@mymac.com)

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