Steve Jobs on Microsoft: "They just have no taste."

By Preston Gralla

Is there no end to the number of insults that Steve Jobs apparently hurled the way of Microsoft and Bill Gates? In a never-before shown interview with Steve Jobs from 1995 to play in select cities next week, Jobs takes aim at Microsoft, among other targets.

The interview was done with journalist Robert Cringely, and was part of the research that Cringely was doing for the PBS series, Triumph of the Nerds: The Rise of Accidental Empires. Only sections of the interview were shown in television. Cringely thought that the tape for it had been lost, but says that it was recently discovered in the director's garage.

It will be shown in Landmark Theatres in many cities, including New York, Boston, Palo Alto, San Francisco, Denver, Dallas, Chicago, and many others.

The trailer for it shows a youthful and vigorous-looking Jobs throwing this barb Microsoft's way:

"The only problem with Microsoft is they just have no taste."

Through the years, Jobs has zinged Gates and Microsoft many times, such as saying:

"Bill is basically unimaginative and has never invented anything, which is why I think he's more comfortable now in philanthropy than technology. He just shamelessly ripped off other people's ideas."

Gates, for his part, rarely rose to the bait. In once exception, told by Walter Isaacson in his recent bio of Jobs, Jobs invited Gates to Apple's headquarters, and then berated Gates in front of 10 Apple employees for stealing the Mac interface for Windows. "You're ripping us off!' Jobs shouted at Gates. "I trusted you, and now you’re stealing from us!"

Both the Mac interface and Windows were based on work done at XEROX PARC. So Gates responded:

"Well, Steve, I think there's more than one way of looking at it. I think it's more like we both had this rich neighbor named Xerox and I broke into his house to steal the TV set and found out that you had already stolen it."

So it's obvious that Gates, when necessary, could have as acid a tongue as Jobs. He just rarely felt the need to use it publicly.

The amount of criticism and vitriol that Jobs heaped on Gates and Microsoft through the years makes me think there must have been some level of envy there. Under Jobs' tenure, Apple may have made more beautiful products, but Microsoft, until recently, had always been far more successful. That had to eat at a perfectionist like Jobs.

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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