The richest man in the world takes stock
Saturday 15 February 1997
Yet for someone who embodies the digital age, whose ideas have influenced an entire generation of computer-literate youngsters, academics and businessmen - and whose products are used in 80 per cent of all the personal computers in the world - the essence of the man remains elusive.
Like the other self-made billionaires with whom he is now endlessly compared, Harvard's most celebrated drop-out values his privacy, rarely grants interviews and chooses to live and work in the relative obscurity of Seattle, Washington state, rather than the more traditional playgrounds of the rich and powerful.
At Microsoft's campus-style headquarters, where the cult of Bill is adopted by employees with quasi-religious fervour, he is described (according to Time magazine), in the language of his medium. He has, it is said, "incredible processing power", "unlimited bandwidth" and "an agility at parallel processing".
He is said to combine creative thinking with a genuine love of computers and a potent blend of drive and competitiveness. But that, say friends and associates, is only part of the story. Whatever it is that makes him tick, few would deny that hisjudgement has been impressively consistent throughout the past two decades.
Given the near-hysteria that greeted the launch of Microsoft's Windows 95 PC operating system, it's a fair bet that Gates's mighty marketing machine will ensure a similar result for Office 97, the latest attempt at a comprehensive, off-the-peg business software package - on the shelves of a store near you later this year. In the meantime, the man has broadened his horizons still further.
With such a dominant position in the software market, he might be forgiven for sitting back and enjoying his good fortune. But Gates clearly has other ideas.
Already, Microsoft is muscling in on the television business, having launched a cable and online news channel in partnership with NBC - the US broadcasting giant - with the stated aim of becoming a credible rival to CNN.
And as if to illustrate the maxim about birds of a feather, Gates is closely involved in Dreamworks SKG, an equally ambitious film and entertainment conglomerate set up by Steven Spielberg, no small success in his own field.
Still, this drive to diversify betrays a suspicion that the future might not be so comfortable. Many within the industry have argued that Gates underestimated the commercial potential of the Internet, and has been forced into a catch-up.
Microsoft's market position has already meant several run-ins with US anti-trust authorities and the threat of more to come. Watch this space.
- 1 Tamir Rice: 12-year-old boy playing with fake gun dies after being shot by Ohio police
- 2 To help fuel their propaganda machine against the poor, our government has now decided to redefine the word 'welfare'
- 3 Halle Berry takes ex-boyfriend Gabriel Aubry to court for allegedly trying to make daughter look less African-American
- 4 Isis propaganda image showing 'abuse of Muslim woman by soldiers' is actually taken from Hungarian porn film
- 5 'You should come to my house and eat cheeses with me': 4-year-old sends adorable love letter to girl at school
Turkish President: 'Equality between men and women is against nature'
Tamir Rice: 12-year-old boy playing with fake gun dies after being shot by Ohio police
Ferguson decision: Tea Party website mocks Michael Brown's family over T-shirt typo
Michael Brown shooting: Ten things we know – or know better – now the Ferguson grand jury's work is over
Isis propaganda image showing 'abuse of Muslim woman by soldiers' is actually taken from Hungarian porn film
Rochester by-election: Ukip gains second MP as Tory defector Mark Reckless holds seat
'Beast of Bolsover' Dennis Skinner takes Ukip MP Mark Reckless to task moments after he is sworn in
Rochester by-election: Labour MP Emily Thornberry resigns after posting white van and England flags tweet
France 'blocks' Russian sailors from boarding a warship
The young are the new poor: Sharp increase in number of under-25s living in poverty, while over-65s are better off than ever
Revealed: How the world gets rich – from privatising British public services
Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: CHESHIRE MARKET TOWN - An exciting and rare o...
Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: NORTH HAMPSHIRE - SENIOR POSITION - An exciti...
£29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Gas Installation Engineer is required ...
£28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Domestic Gas Technical Surveyor is req...