Don't Ask Bill

Bill Gates pens a semi-monthly column which is distributed to more than 120 newspapers internationally through the New York Times Syndicate. The column alternates essay and question and answer formats. Topics and questions come directly from readers. But to be honest, the answers (and the essays) leave a little bit to be desired, so we thought we'd take the whole thing to a new level in the realms of fiction.
Essay Column Q&A Column 'Ask Bill'
A whirlwind tour of the computer world-in Las Vegas (December 3rd, 1996)
Not that I was there, I got pissed at the bar.

Privacy policies can protect your life from becoming an open book (November 5th, 1996)
But they can't protect you from Microsoft's new We Know Too Much So Pay Now initiative.

Retreating from the office-but not from hard work (October 9, 1996)
Of course, I never did any hard work in the first place.

Long-term leadership demands candor and consistency (September 11, 1996)
But deception and large amounts of cash will also usually cut it.

Customer-driven companies: First systems, then instincts (August 13, 1996)
I loved that movie with Sharon Stone.

Better government? Sure, in the Information Age (July 16, 1996)
When I'm President, everyone will get to have sex with me.

Like software, biotechnology will change the world (June 18, 1996)
Except that, like software, it doesn't really work properly most of the time.

Closing the "Information Gap" (May 22, 1996)
We use Selley's 'No More Information Gaps', but any silicon-based adhesive will do.

Intranets help solve the puzzle of sharing information (April 24, 1996)
But they won't solve the puzzle: how did a dweeb like me get where I am today?

Searching for middle ground in online censorship (March 27, 1996)
Mind you, I'm so rich I'll always have access to depraved vixens who'll do anything you want, even if it involves a combine harvester.

Reorganization: A necessary art in a fast-changing world (February 2, 1996)
Other important arts include finger-painting, sculpture and the composition of press releases.

The Wallet PC (January 31, 1996)
When you buy a PC, some of the money goes straight in my wallet.

Content is King (January 3, 1996)
Well, apart from Elvis. Prince changed his name, I hear.

The Internet "Gold Rush": Where's the Gold? (December 6, 1995)
If I get my way, it will all be in my special high-security safe and you guys won't see a red cent of it har har har.

The Challenges of China (November 8, 1995)
I find it best to let the staff wash the china, to avoid nasty breakages.

PC Empowerment (October 15, 1995)
Plug it in, stupid.

Protecting Privacy (September 15, 1995)
Like I give a shit.

The Internet (August 15, 1995)
Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Long Term Thinking (July 18, 1995)
I think I will have a Big Mac for dinner next Thursday.

Telecommunications Deregulation (June 20, 1995)
Welcome to Bill's Big Phone Company Pty Ltd. Please hold the line.

Three-dimensional Graphics (May 23, 1995)
How 2-D computer programs will be as realistic as 'Jurassic Park' and have the same degree of shithouse content quality.

Mistakes (April 25, 1995)
I think this one was a mistake.

What the Computer has Done for Small Businesses (March 28, 1995)
I could sit on my mother's lap again and play skipping with the girls next door. I could wet my pants again and get away with it.

I Wish I Were a Kid Again (February 28, 1995)
How computers are helping small businesses compete and succeed, via desktop publishing, information technology, and product development. Something funny's going on here.

World of Opportunity for Software (January 31, 1995)
There's a whole Third World out there.Yippee!

How to Make a Small Fortune in Software (December 1994)
"Is it too late to build a software company and get rich?" Bill replies that while there is a breath in his body no other individual will get rich from software that competes in any way with any Microsoft product, which rules out 99.3% of products.

The importance of checking essays before putting them to print (November 1994)
Dear Penthouse Forum: The other day these two gorgeous blonde twins cam up to me on the street and said "Show us you hard drive, I bet you've got a lot of RAM" and so I replied "I'll download you two anytime". So we went back to their place and we were going for it on the loungeroom floor when their mother walked in. I thought she would go ballistic but intsead she took off her clothes and . . .oh fuck

Ask Bill Q&A: Leather, PVC and my mother (12/12/96)
Q. What are the chances of me persuading you to don PVC pants and a leather vest to address Comdex next year? Love, Monkey
A. Monkey, you have to understand that I just wear whatever outfit is laid outfit me every day. This task used to be done by my mother, Mary, but now is done by my wife, whose name is . . . ah . . . Melissa. Sorry, Melinda. So if that outfit, which does sound pretty cool, is laid out for me, then I will put it on without another thought! I already wear leather underpants so it won't be that different really.
Q. Do you expect to see TVs and PCs connected to the Internet via satellite dish in the near future?
A. Haven't you read the tabloid articles about my fabbo new house, dweeb? I already have TVs and PCs connected via the Internet, and they're collecting intimate footage of your wife right now, and I own the rights. Suck on that, thickhead.
Q. Back when you were learning about computers and programming, were you ever seized by a malicious urge to wreak havoc on other computer users by writing a virus?
A. I think that would be cruel and unnecessary. In fact I have even written my own anti-virus software for my special friends. Becuase you sound really nice I'll let you use it too. Go to and download a file called badvirus.exe.
Q. What are your policies regarding credit-screen "Easter eggs" in your software programs? Are they forbidden? Tolerated? Or perhaps even encouraged?
A. I hate them. I got chocolate all through my floppy drive, man I was so pissed off.
Q. Why does MS-DOS use the backslash ("\") as the separator in pathnames?
A. Because we could, OK? We write the software, we make the decisions. If I chose to change the backslash to the phrase 'BILL GATES IS KING' tomorrow, you'd all just have to comply. No-one forced you to buy the goddamn software, anyways.

Ask Bill Q&A: As a kid, did you dream of wealth? (10/22/96)
Q. Did you ever think or dream that you would become one of the richest people in the world?
A. Not really, no. In fact, (and I have never told anyone this before) as a kid I used to dream about my mother, a banana and the ugly guy from Spīnal Tap. I'm still not sure what it all means.
Q. I believe that online services will have great impact. But how can we avoid having the Third World miss the biggest revolution in modern times?
A. It's pretty straightforward, really. As long as we keep engineering wars and diverting our resources into funding pillocks like me rather than solving social problems, then the Third World will remain poor and we can all enjoy a ludicrous standard of living into the next millennium while children starve.
Q. Are you going to write another book in the near future?
A. Nope, I'm just going to keep revising The Road Ahead until not one word resembles the first edition.

Ask Bill Q&A: E-mail helps me get out of the office and use my time well (9/24/96)
Q. How do you spend your time?
A. Oh the usual things, I enjoy going to see Nine Inch Nails in concert and doing some moshing. I also indulge in snorting cocaine, body piercing and translating the complete works of TS Eliot into Klingon
Q. Is it a myth that technology is helping us to live better lives?
A. Well, it's helped me a shitload. I couldn't speak for anyone else.
Q. Do you think news anchors and actors will eventually be replaced with computerized 3-D images?
A. Yes, and they'll all have my face, except on Christmas Day when they'll be replaced with images of Santa and 'Oracle Day' when the news anchors will all look like Larry Ellison and will then be horribly massacred in a virtual reality environment.
Q. I need to dress like you for a school presentation. Any fashion tips?
A. I would advise that you wear fishnet stockings, a tutu and football boots. Then run like buggery before they beat the hell out of you

Ask Bill Q&A: Crowd Control: It's A Growing Challenge on the Internet (8/28/96)
Q. How will the overburdening of the Internet be prevented?
A. Well the next version of IE will ship with a special code that will allow me to electrocute people via their keyboards. Then anytime anyone gets on my tits, I'll fry the sucker. Yes McNealy, that means you, you swine.
Q. When you delete something from a computer's memory, is the file really gone or can it be retrieved electronically?
A. Yes, it can. Go into Windows Explorer and go to the file called c:\Windows\deleted\secret\~placethat\stuffgoes. Click on the file called Iamastupidmoronfuckwit.exe and it should retrieve the last file you deleted. If that doesn't work or you can't find it, chances are the file is caught in some of the computers components. In that case, I recommend that you take the case off the computer and whack the hard drive really hard with your shoe to dislodge them.
Q. Are you still learning about computers?
A. Yes, just the other day I learnt how to change the colour scheme in Windows 95 and that if you press Alt + F4, it closes an application

Ask Bill Q&A: What does the future hold for small businesses? (7/30/96)
Q. What does the future holds for small businesses? What opportunities and threats do they face because of future technology?
A. They're all dead, see? Sell to me now and you might get a reasonable price. Otherwist the major threat you'll face will be my customised hoodlums with advanced baseball-bat-to-the-groin skills.
Q. Is it true you work on a Mac?
A. The only 'Mac' I work on is a Big Mac. Ha ha ha ha. Oh shit I laughed so hard at my little joke that Jolt Cola came out my nose.
Q. Not all computer geniuses behave like nerds. Many are outgoing and blend right into the crowd-that's part of what makes them geniuses, naturally. Your interviews almost invariably portray computer people collectively as nerds. Have a heart, will ya?
A. Pass the bucket, will ya? If you had a life, you wouldn't be wasting time writing to a fuck-knuckle like me.

Ask Bill Q&A: How big a headache at the end of the century? (7/3/96)
Q. Is it true that the worldwide computer community is going to have a massive headache when we reach December 31, 1999? Has Microsoft addressed the problem and if yes, how so? I can't help wonder how this situation got past so many programmers and company executives.
A. This is almost true, but not quite. The computer community will have a massive headache on January 1, 2000, because we all will have got pissed and danced to Prince's '1999' till the wee small hours to celebrate the end of the millenium night before. Microsoft now has the exlcusive rights to New Year's Eve and will be licensing it to partygoers worldwide.
Q. Do you think that too much reliance on the computer for mental stimulation and knowledge actually causes the brain to decrease in capacity?
A. Your message is a little garbled, try wiping the drool off your keyboard next time.
Q. I was quite surprised to hear about your recent acquisition of the Bettmann Archive. I think it's interesting that you chose to invest in an institution so different from your software business. I was wondering if you had any plans for the archive which you could share.
A. I was quite surprise when they brought Harold back from the dead on Neighbours. I mean they tried that trick with Patrick Duffy on Dallas, but I never expected them to do it on that show. I really don't think the whole 'His body never turned up and while everyone thought he was dead, he just had amnesia' routine really cuts it. That show has gone down hill in a big way since Scott and Charlene left. I also miss Bouncer, the dog.
The problem is that it is on in between The Brady Bunch and M*A*S*H, so there is no point changing the channel really. I was a bit pissed off that they took The Simpsons off, even if it was repeats, because that show is so funny. I like it when Homer says "D'oh!"when he's upset. Channel Nine is showing the new series of Friends, so on Monday nights I watch TV from 6pm straight through to 8pm. That Rachel is a spunk.
Q. Do you have a photographic memory?
A. No, but I've got a great collection of photographs. There's this one of Pammy Anderson in a bathing suit and another of the cast of the Brady Bunch naked!

Ask Bill: Don't pay too much attention to revenue-per-employee (5/7/96)
Q. What kinds of human resources policies and strategies do you use to ensure that your revenue per employee is at an optimum level?
A. The problem of the lazy employee affects all American companies. Here at Microsoft I have got around this problem by paying people in food. That way, if they don't achieve the minimum revenue target, they don't eat. And starvation-induced fatigue makes you work even slower, so that's extra incentive. I find this works.
Q. What would or might happen to computer networks, systems and the Internet if earth's magnetic poles shifted as history shows they do?
A. I'll bet you're the kind of person who stays out at night looking for UFOs, hoping to get probed and then appear on Unexplained Mysteries, right? And weren't you Elizabeth Taylor in a past life too? Get a life you pathetic weirdo shitbag.

Ask Bill: Secrets of Success (2/12/96)
Q. Please explain to me the secret of your success.
A. Oh sure, I've spent 25 years of my life slogging my guts out and now that I've made it, you expect me to tell some bozo who wastes all their time on the Internet instead of doing a fair day's work how I did it? Sit and spin sunshine.
Q. Does MS plan to do more software development outside the United States, where software expertise may be more cheaply obtained?
A. MS he make very good softwar now at Taiwan. Very superior quality he is very pleesed at.
Q. Why was MS Windows called "Windows"? I would also like to know what programming lanquage Windows was written in.
A. You know - in tribute to Wendy Indows, my old girlfriend. Windows was written in Windows for Windows.
Q. What are you crazy about?
A. I'm crazy for you. Touch me once and you'll know it too. I never wanted anyone like this. It's all brand new. You'll feel it in my kiss. I'm crazy for you.

Email Bill with your Question for the Real Column Be warned, his answer may not be as amusing, but he sure knows how to roll in those bucks, and there's a slight risk he might take you seriously.

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