Joel on Bill Gates’ Software

Bill Gates is undeniably one of the most successful entrepreneurs in the world. He is also one of the most derided due to the poor usability of many Microsoft applications. The following article and this email are going a long way in repairing Gates’ image. Joel “on Software” Spolsky on his time at Microsoft:

Bill Gates was amazingly technical, and he knew more about the details of his company’s software than most of the people who worked on those details day in and day out. He didn’t meddle in software if he trusted the people who were working on it, but you couldn’t bullshit him for a minute because he was a programmer. A real, actual programmer.

Watching nonprogrammers trying to run software companies is like watching someone who doesn’t know how to surf trying to surf. Even if he has great advisers standing on the shore telling him what to do, he still falls off the board again and again. The cult of the M.B.A. likes to believe that you can run organizations that do things that you don’t understand. But often, you can’t.