Home opinion-and-analysis Fuzzy Logic Forget iPods, is denying iPads to Gates kids all that smart?

Forget iPods, is denying iPads to Gates kids all that smart?

In the news again is Melinda Gates, wife of Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and mother to their children, who has previously been reported as saying her kids weren’t allowed iPods, and has been quoted saying so again, but is this really such a smart idea?

The ban on the Gates children using Apple technology is old news, which the UK’s Mail Online reported back on the 4th of March, 2009.

Then, on the 25th of October 2010, the Huffinton Post posted an article quoting Mrs Gates stating that, when it comes to Apple, “nothing crosses the threshold of our doorstep”.

iTWire colleague David Heath has his own sarcastic take on the situation in his article published yesterday (and now last year seeing as it is the 1st of January as I type) entitled “The Gates children can’t have an iPod”.

The Telegraph quoted Mrs Gates sharing that her three children has asked for iPods, to which she replied “of course”, adding “but they get Windows technology. The wealth from our family came from Microsoft so why would we invest in a competitor?”.

Elsewhere in the article, Mrs Gates is quoted stating to Vogue magazine: “Every now and then I look at my friends and say 'Ooh, I wouldn't mind having that iPhone’.”

There’s also the report by the Daily Mail in the UK on the 30th of December, 2011, that one of Bill and Melinda’s daughters, Jennifer, was photographed using what appeared to be an iPhone 4 on a trip to Australia, with two photos to help you make your own mind up. 

The thing I wonder about this is whether it's too clever by half.

As a philanthropist and world health campaigner, married to one of the world’s most influential people, one of its richest and most wildly successful billionaires, now dedicated to medical causes and human health, Melinda Gates is a very smart and intelligent woman.

Likewise, Bill Gates is the co-founder of Microsoft and one of the world’s richest men, a man whose Windows operating system still runs in various versions on the majority of the world’s desktop PCs and notebooks and who remains the company’s chairman.

You’d have to imagine their children would be very smart kids, blessed with the potential for boundless opportunity from birth.

Isn’t learning about competition and business a great thing to be teaching your children about?

I wonder how Windows 8, the Zune, Windows Phone 7, 7.5, 8 etc might have been dramatically improved had the Gates children been encouraged to play with Apple’s obviously winning iOS and iDevices while using them with their Windows-powered equivalents.

I’ll bet pure pester power alone would have seen their father move a lot faster into getting the necessary improvements into Windows a lot sooner. Maybe that’s why such a strict sounding ban was necessary – to nip any feature-envy pester power in the bud as much as possible!

Perhaps Mr and Mrs Gates didn’t want their or their family’s private information stored in Apple’s databases either.

It is possible to see their point of view, of course. Bill Gates is Microsoft still to this day, even though his official title is chairman. Bill Gates is to Microsoft as Steve Jobs is to Apple – and it’s well within his and Melinda’s rights to insist that their children use Microsoft powered products.

Unfortunately, however, we’ll never know what the kids really thought of it all.

Or at least we won’t until one of the kids writes a book about being the child of one of the world’s most influential men some time in the distant future, perhaps by then delivered through a hyper visual 3D holographic stimulo-cortex wireless televisualiser content delivery system instead of a paper-based book.

Perhaps when each child turns 18 they will finally be free to choose their own operating systems and computing devices, or perhaps the ban will be enforced by other means thereafter, but it’s a shame Bill Gates didn’t expose his children to the same Apple technologies he himself liberally copied from in his time.

Through his own children, and the insights of his wife, he might have learned a lot more about the human side of technology, and the world might have been spared the inanity of Blue Screens of Death, Windows crashes, unfriendly inbuilt backup software, the malware virus loving frenzy that has been Windows insecurity over the decades and more.

Instead, Windows has delivered a lot of hassle and pain to people over the years, and despite this, has grown to become the world’s most popular operating system.

Well, as the iPad, Android tablets and even Android smartphones such as the Galaxy SIII and the Galaxy Note II ably show, it is possible to use them as desktop computers, as seen in these two videos. (Story concludes below both videos - please read on).

It shows both the SIII and Note II being used quite effectively as desktop computers, with big screen HDMI conneted display, and with wired or wireless keyboard and mouse, running a whole range of apps, multitasking easily, copying and pasting, browsing and plenty more.

Presumably, however, given Android is also a competitor to Microsoft, the kids haven’t seen what the SIII or Note II can do, either.

When what can be transformed into a desktop really can fit into your pocket while being equally useful in handheld mode, let alone the popularity of tablets, claims of a post PC world - despite Microsoft's attempts to embrace and extend tablets into its own hybrid touch/desktop UI interface - become ever more true with every passing day.

Not even Bill and Melinda Gates can shield their children from that!


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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.