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Bill Gates Attacks Mac Security, Get a Mac, & Apple Innovation

Bill Gates Attacks Mac Security, Get a Mac, & Apple Innovation

by , 10:10 AM EST, February 2nd, 2007

Bill Gates attacked Mac OS X security, Apple's "Get a Mac" campaign, and even the notion that many of Vista's features are already available in Mac OS X in an interview with Newsweek's Steven Levy. Mr. Gates, on a media tour to promote the release of Windows Vista, has been dogged with questions about Apple, the Mac, and Apple's marketing, and in this interview, he lashed out strongly against the notion that Apple is in any way superior to Microsoft.

Mr. Gates started off the Apple portion of his interview by touting security features in Vista. Providing a robust security foundation was even offered as a reason for having left out many of the features originally planned for Vista.

"We made it way harder for guys to do exploits," said Mr. Gates. "The number [of exploits] will be way less because we've done some dramatic things [to improve security] in the code base. Apple hasn't done any of those things."

In another portion of the interview, he added, "Nowadays, security guys break the Mac every single day. Every single day, they come out with a total exploit, your machine can be taken over totally. I dare anybody to do that once a month on the Windows machine."

Mr. Gates appears to be referring to the Month of Apple Bugs project intended to highlight a new Apple security issue every day during January of 2007. Said project has stirred the hornet's nest of whether or not Macs are more secure than Windows machines, despite the lack of Mac viruses in the wild.

Just as he did in an NPR interview, Mr. Gates rejected the view of the PC, or PC users as he puts it, portrayed in Apple's "Get a Mac" campaign. Mr. Levy asked Mr. Gates if he was "bugged" by the campaign, in particular the ad that shows PC as needing to undergo major surgery in order to upgrade to Vista.

Denying he had seen that particular commercial, Mr. Gates said, "I don't think the over 90 percent of the [population] who use Windows PCs think of themselves as dullards, or the kind of klutzes that somebody is trying to say they are."

That "somebody" would be Apple, of course.

Mr. Gates added that Vista does a better job of "letting you upgrade on the hardware than our competitors have done," whatever that means.

Interestingly, it was this topic that brought out Mr. Gates seeming rancor, as he added, "And I don't know why [Apple is] acting like it's superior. I don't even get it. What are they trying to say? Does honesty matter in these things, or if you're really cool, that means you get to be a lying person whenever you feel like it? There's not even the slightest shred of truth to [the ideas about Vista upgrades presented in the Apple commercial he said he had not seen]."

In the final Apple-related portion of the interview, Mr. Gates took exception to the idea that many of Vista's new features came first in the Mac.

"You can go through and look at who showed any of these things first, if you care about the facts," said Mr. Gates. "If you just want to say, 'Steve Jobs invented the world, and then the rest of us came along,' that's fine. If you're interested, [Vista development chief] Jim Allchin will be glad to educate you feature by feature what the truth is. I mean, it's fascinating, maybe we shouldn't have showed so publicly the stuff we were doing, because we knew how long the new security base was going to take us to get done."

"So, yes," he said, "it took us longer, and they had what we were doing, user interface-wise. Let's be realistic, who came up with [the] file, edit, view, help [menu bar]? Do you want to go back to the original Mac and think about where those interface concepts came from?"

There is more in the full interview about other aspects of Vista and Microsoft, as well as the company's future without Bill Gates, who is set to lessen his role in the company in July of 2008.

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