bill Gates believes that you would probably be using a cell phone with Windows Mobile if it weren’t for the antitrust lawsuit against Microsoft. He says he was distracted by the legal dispute involving the U.S. government, and that he missed a major Motorola smartphone launch. For the former CEO, his biggest mistake was the defeat for Android.
“There is no doubt that the antitrust case was bad for Microsoft, and we would be more focused on creating the mobile operating system,” said Gates at a conference performed by New York Times this Wednesday (6th).
“So, instead of using Android today, you would use Windows Mobile,” he continued. “If it weren’t for the antitrust case… we came so close. I was very distracted, I ruined everything because of the distraction. ”
The US government filed a lawsuit against Microsoft in 1998, accusing it of abusing its Windows monopoly power to grow in another market – web browsers – and harming competitors like Netscape.
In 2000, a court decision forced the company to be divided into two: one part would make the operating system, and the other would make other types of software. Microsoft appealed, and the Supreme Court reversed that decision. In 2001, the US Department of Justice made an out-of-court settlement, ending the case.
Gates said at the event that he would not have stepped down as CEO anytime soon had it not been for the antitrust lawsuit. Steve Ballmer took over in 2000; the same year, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation was opened.
Motorola could have used Windows Mobile, not Android
According to Gates, Microsoft also missed the chance to launch Windows Mobile on an important Motorola device: “We arrived three months late for a launch that Motorola would have used on a cell phone, so yes, this is a game in which the winner takes all”.
The Microsoft co-founder did not elaborate, but he could be talking about the Motorola Droid, launched outside the US as Milestone. Motorola and operator Verizon carried out a huge marketing campaign to publicize the device and compete with the iPhone – at the time exclusive to AT&T. It had good sales and paved the way for the popularization of Android.
The Motorola Droid was launched in late 2009. At the time, Microsoft had released Windows Mobile 6.5 with a more suitable interface for interacting with fingers, instead of a stylus. But initially, this system barely supported multitouch: for example, it was not possible to enlarge a page in Internet Explorer Mobile with the pinch gesture. (The iPhone has been on the market for two years.)
Microsoft was preparing an improved version, called Windows Mobile 7, but ended up giving up and migrating development to Windows Phone 7, launched in late 2010. Windows Mobile 6.5 phones could not upgrade to Windows Phone 7; these, in turn, did not receive Windows Phone 8.
If Microsoft were not “distracted” by the antitrust lawsuit, would it have a chance against the iPhone and Android? Well, it is impossible to know, since we do not live in this alternative reality. “Now nobody here has ever heard of Windows Mobile, but that’s okay,” said Gates.
Interface Windows Mobile 6.5, released in 2009: