Microsoft founder and richest man alive Bill Gates has revealed his one regret in life
As fellow business genius Jay-Z himself once rapped on Reasonable Doubt, "This is the number one rule for your set/In order to survive, gotta learn to live with regrets". What can be said about the life of Bill Gates? A total nerd jumped onto the ARPANET project, developed by DARPA inside the US government, at the right moment to take it private and found Microsoft.
Gates is many things to many people. To the business world, he is an unending fountain of wisdom and information. To the public, he is a great philanthropist and an icon. To Alex Jones, he is a ruthless psychic vampire secretly enslaving humankind under the guise of digital authority. Perhaps, in the final weighing of the man's soul in the Death Halls, he will be some combination of all three. But today, he's just one man airing his regrets.
At a Bloomberg Business Forum, Gates confessed that he actually had a regret to talk about. What could it be? A mistake in his personal life? An error of investment? Not spotting another rising talent? None of the above. Like all highly-focused and highly-successful people, his one regret was centered on a single thing: the design choices in his product.
You're familiar with Ctrl-Alt-Del. When your computer freezes up and needs to get a good reset, you hit all three of these keys at once, and you can shut down the programs giving you trouble. Basically, it's a lifeline when everything hits the fan while you're online. Gates regrets the way that this function works.
"The IBM PC hardware keyboard only had one way that it could get a guaranteed interrupt generated. So, clearly the people involved, they should have put another key on it to make that work. A lot of machines these days do have that as a more obvious function."
Instead of pressing three buttons at once, he wished that IBM's engineers could have installed a single button to perform the function. To this day, he holds on to that pipe dream, of a single button prompt for Ctrl-Alt-Del. What a dedicated guy, right? His major regret is that his engineers weren't good enough. Maybe a bit dispiriting, right?
Yet, this demonstrates his unending principles when it comes to consumer design. Simplicity is his ethos. If an interface is simple, streamlined, direct and coherent, it is well-designed. Ctrl-Alt-Del, then, is a bit of a mess, no?
Alright, I didn't take enough business courses or spend enough time in really annoying network sessions to techsplain this away. The man's a robot. How can your major regret just be one tiny design compromise you had to make so many decades ago? Why not Windows Vista? Ring any bells? That was much more recent and a lot more people found it worth complaining about.
Bill Gates is someone we will all listen to, because he's clobbered so many other people and come out on top, but is he really relatable? No way. The man is like some kind of high priest of an arcane world we don't understand. And I don't think it's a world better than ours.