On Friday, Melinda Gates, the wife of Microsoft founder and chairman Bill Gates, was interviewed during the Today show on Radio 4 in the UK. She revealed that Apple products are not allowed in the Gates household, even if their two daughters (Jennifer, Phoebe) and one son (Rory) ask for an iPod or some other i-gadget for Christmas.
Wait! Do they even dare ask for such products given that they live in the House That Windows Built? Of course they do, she said. "But they get Windows technology," she added. "The wealth from our family came from Microsoft so why would we invest in a competitor?"
True that, but even Melinda Gates understands the temptation of an Apple gadget. Back in 2009, before Microsoft finally retaliated against Apple's iPhone with the revamped Windows Phone 7 platform, she admitted to Vogue magazine that the iPhone looked rather tasty.
"Every now and then I look at my friends and say 'Ooh, I wouldn't mind having that iPhone’," she said.
As she indicated, there was no real personal rivalry between the House of Gates and the House of Jobs – it was two brilliant men leading two companies making competitive products. It was about making money, and finding ways to win over the hearts and wallets of consumers. Even Bill Gates said there was no rivalry shortly after Steve Jobs' passing late last year.
"We spent literally hours reminiscing and talking about the future," he said. "I told Steve about how he should feel great about what he had done and the company he had built. There was no peace to make. We were not at war. We made great products, and competition was always a positive thing."
Steve Jobs and Apple changed the computing world as we know it with the introduction of the iPhone and the iPad. Both products have left Microsoft scrambling to find its place in the computing market as consumers have ditched their desktops and flocked to both products like magnets. Windows 8 is a direct result, bringing a touch-based app environment to multiple Microsoft-controlled screens including the desktop, tablet, smartphone and gaming console.
With a new touch-focused Microsoft platform now out on the market, it would seem that the temptation for the Gates family to switch over to Apple products would be less aggressive. But rules are prone to be broken nevertheless, especially by 16-year-olds hell bent on having their way. Just last year, despite the no Apple rule, their oldest daughter Jennifer was caught jogging in Sydney, clutching an iPhone.
So much for not investing in a competitor. Maybe it was a gift from a friend or grandparent?