Bill Gates has been popping up a lot lately – at the Office Developer Conference, at the SharePoint Conference, and so on. An interesting leg on his journey – this is, after all, a farewell tour – was his stop at Stanford University on Feb 19.
The Stanford visit is one of many he’s made in recent years to drum up added interest in computer science among students.
Programming seems less and less to be a career of choice, and this worries Gates. So he goes to colleges and addresses the students frankly about why he loves software.
It is not all together unlike his speeches to certified geeks. There is plenty of ‘neat’ stuff, ‘really cool’ stuff, and the funny video. But I’d recommend the Stanford transcript as a good entry point to a view on the state of computing today and over time.
Gates glosses over a few facts – there were, for example, software businesses before Microsoft. But he is right in saying his company was the major one to take the low cost-high volume approach to business software.
He discussed a dream ”required some heroic assumptions. ”
We had to believe that the cost of the hardware would come down. We had to believe that the volume would go up. And only then would the economics of being able to spend tens of millions of dollars to write a software package, and yet being able to sell it for say $100 or less, actually make sense.
Much software today is free. Microsoft does not mind that, if it is free too students who will go on to do way cool things, including perhaps becoming a Windows developer some day. At the same time Gates spoke at Stanford, the company announced its DreamSparks free software program, which Ed Tittel recently wrote about in ”Microsoft sparks creativity with DreamSpark student developer program” on SearchWinDevelopment.com.