Staying relevant for 50 years: 10 hits of Bill Gates

Sunil Rajguru
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As a student in the late 1960s, Bill Gates started coding and was soon making money off it. In the early 1970s, he formed a company called Traf-O-Data. He launched Microsoft in 1975 and has not looked back since. I had written an article titled 10 failures of Microsoft. That is only because Bill Gates & Co. keep trying so many things so failures are inevitable. So here are 10 big hits of Silicon Valley’s first big billionaire…


1. The OS that keeps giving: The Operating System Windows has been ruling from the 1980s to the 2020s. Windows 2.0, 95, 98, NT, XP, Vista, 7, 8, 10, 11… By and large there are only two types of OSes that Microsoft releases: Blockbusters and commercial successes (even if they are hated).

2. The superhit tie-ups: Early on, Microsoft established super hit jodis. First was the partnership with IBM that virtually turned the Apple ecosystem into a small niche. Then there was Wintel (Windows + Intel) Inside, which became a really popular catchphrase.

3. Software domination: Microsoft Office was a great complement to Windows. Microsoft Word shut out all the other word processing software. Remember Lotus 1-2-3? Nobody does because of Excel. Microsoft PPT took over the corporate world. Outlook. Visual Studio. MS Dynamics. There is no shortage of software successes.


4. Even Internet Explorer: Marc Andreessen invented the web browser and Netscape had a monopoly. That was broken by Internet Explorer (which was a really ugly battle with court cases) which itself became a monopoly. IE may have perished, but it served its purpose

5. The Xbox ecosystem: Microsoft and gaming? Despite everything, the Xbox still sold 24 million units. Bethesda Softworks was taken over by Microsoft while Minecraft is their biggest acquisition.

6. Getting into the Cloud early on: While many oldies like IBM missed the cloud bus, Microsoft didn’t. AWS, Azure and Google Cloud are the Big 3 of the world when it comes to cloud services.


7. The right CEOs: Gates was the face of the party and hands on leader from the 1970s to the 1990s. In 2000 he made Steve Ballmer the CEO and in 2014 Satya Nadella took over. That’s just 3 helmsmen in about 50 years. It’s the kind of stability many companies only dream of.

8. Acquisitions: Microsoft like many other tech giants have a string of acquisitions. Hotmail was one of the most high-profile ones in the 1990s and they got great mileage out of it. While Skype looks like it didn’t work out, the tech it gave helped and Microsoft Teams today is growing strongly. Other acquisitions were GitHub and LinkedIn. They have taken stakes in many companies famously bailing out rival Apple. Other companies are Comcast, AT&T, Audible etc.

9. Nuclear energy the key: While everyone pushes green energy, environmentalists somehow hate nuclear energy. Gates has been pushing this for ages via Gen IV startups in a lonely crusade. He is having the last laugh. After decades of stagnation, countries like America are pushing nuclear plants left right and centre. India too. The EU has declared “nuclear” to be a form of green energy.

10. And now ChatGPT: This is the latest craze and Microsoft caught on to this early. While they had given a billion dollars to OpenAI in 2019, now they are investing $10 billion. Microsoft can finally challenge Google Search and their AI roadmap.

Recently Microsoft came out with a blog titled: “Reinventing search with a new AI-powered Microsoft Bing and Edge, your copilot for the web”. Edge is actually a good, fast and optimized browser. Bing is somehow still around. ChatGPT is the latest sensation. Can this trinity topple Google? It’s at least got a shot!