Steve Jobs Thought Microsoft’s Bill Gates “Shamelessly Ripped Off Other People’s Ideas”

Steve Jobs Thought Microsoft’s Bill Gates “Shamelessly Ripped Off Other People’s Ideas”

The weird revelations coming from the AP’s bizarrely “purchased” early copy of Walter Isaacson’s Steve Jobs bio continue. Here’s another one: he hates Bill Gates!

According to a direct quote from Isaacson in his upcoming Steve Jobs bio, Microsoft’s Bill Gates is “basically unimaginative and has never invented anything… he just shamelessly ripped off other people’s ideas.”

Yowch. But it gets worse. He also said that “He’d be a broader guy if he had dropped acid once or gone off to an ashram when he was younger.”

Walter Isaacson’s bio of Steve Jobs will be on sale Monday.

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  • ifuckyourmind

    also true. When OSX Tiger introduced Dashboard Widgets and the Spotlight realtime Search in 2006 the very same features appeared in Windows Vista 2007, with a search indexer that bogs down the machine of course and with widgets that crash the sidebar or not work at all. Even a ripped-off iDVD clone was added into Vista, dubbed “Windows DVD Maker” ( with ugly themes of course and unreliable burning feature, stopping at 99% .. well : MS Quality  ). When Apple introduced its new iMovie, what came to Windows : a new Movie Maker ( same “quality” as for “DVD Maker” – “effects” you will feel ashamed once you preview them and not think one second about adding them to your footage ) ..  iwork09 with great themes to choose for the templates to start new projects : Oh, Microsoft Office has the exact same thing now 2 years later , too ( with clipart’s that make you puke ). 

    That’s the one fine difference : Microsoft copies Apple, but their “designers” don’t get it right and the software is usually so badly programmed that you know you have only a copycat before you.

  • TeeJay1100

    Steve Jobs was so evil and 2 faced! Didn’t Gates help bring them back to life in the 90′s with a financial investment?

  • vistarox

    Steve was being a little hypocritical. Wasn’t he the one who sad that good artists copy, great artists steal. And isn’t Apple the company that shamelessly “stole” from Android and Windows Phone to make iOS 5. 

  • vistarox

    Microsoft was planning search features long before the release of Tiger. Just because Apple released a feature first doesn’t mean that Microsoft copied them. Windows Vista and OS X Tiger were natural progressions for desktop operating systems. 

  • Mitch McKee

    Everyone seems to leave out the part where Apple creates GUI interfaces, and Microsoft shamelessly copies it. That’s a pretty big freakin deal.

  • John Mozelewski

    u c everything one sided “good artists copy great artists steal” this is what Mr. Jobs said pretty sure he stole more ideas than anyone and he was amazing and it but i guess he was a hypocrite just like u

  • GregsTechBlog

    He did.
    Plain and simple. Microsoft would have continued peddling DOS if they hadn’t seen Mac OS. 
    Also, Bill’s body language speaks volumes. He was intimidated by Steve Jobs.

  • Crossphire Dev

    He was paraphrasing Picasso.  As for the rest of your comment…. no comment.

  • Crossphire Dev

    I don’t see either quote as a revelation.  The dropping acid comment has been out for a while and the other is just obvious.  It’s fair to say that all companies are guilty of copying or receiving inspiration from others.  It’s just that some do it a lot more often…

    I’d also like to point out the unnecessarily sensationalistic spin in this article. “Here’s another one: he hates Bill Gates!” Jobs didn’t say he hated him, he said he was unimaginative and boring. OK, I added the boring but you have to give me that one. What other billionaire can’t find a shirt that fits. But Jobs didn’t say he hated Gates and there is a clip where Jobs was sitting alongside Gates and talking about the road they had both traveled and there seemed to be a fondness in how he spoke and that hardly seems to be a sign of hatred. Strangely enough the picture in this article is from the clip that I reference and they seem to be smiling at each other.

    I was an MS guy long before I switched to Mac and for much longer than I have been an Apple guy and I made the switch because of the lack of quality in MS software. I dislike Microsoft with a passion but I will say that Bill Gates, while lackluster, is a very good person and he deserves credit for what he has been doing after he left Microsoft.

  • Guest

    ur prob the 5000000 person to get that quote wrong yo

  • Guest

    iOS borrowed many innovations from Palm and Microsoft – not Android.

  • Crossphire Dev

    I like how these people that are clearly anti-Apple/anti-Jobs use that quote as if it were attributed to Jobs.  Jobs was paraphrasing Picasso.  Where are the Picasso haters?  Care to say he was a thief too?

  • Crossphire Dev

    He’s going to tell you that the split keyboard in Windows Phone was the inspiration for the feature in the iPad even though the one iPad actually hit users hands before Windows Phone did. 

  • mlahero

    I find it a bizarre statement considering we’ve seen Apple shamelessly rip off smaller companies, particularly for OSX (Konfabulator, Lite Switch are the first that come to mind).

  • mlahero

    But then Dashboard was a direct ripoff of Konfabulator, which even named its small apps “widgets”.

  • Corey

    It could be called an investment but Steve Jobs had put internet explorer on the Mac as the default web browser in return for the cash! So call it what you want but they had to sacrifice something!

  • John Mozelewski

    im not anti apple i might be anti jobs though he seemed to always rub me the wrong way. 

  • John Mozelewski

    Good artists copy, great artists steal” is the quote and then goes on saying he takes ideas shamelessly 

  • takeo

    riiiight…. like Aero was important to Windows… or just a ripoff of Aqua?-….

  • Dave B

    Where would the Mac be if Steve didn’t shamelessly rip off the work done at Xerox PARC?

  • jdog25

    1. Apple rips Xerox
    2. Microsoft rips Apple
    3. Then Apple rips someone else for many years including  M$
    4. Microsoft rips Apple some more
    5. Android rips Apple
    6. Apple rips Android

    Moral of the true story “Good Artists Copy, Great Artist Steal” and we all have better tech for it.

    Now lets all continue to be whinny fanboys who lie to ourselves about what really happened.

  • jdog25

    Truth be told Android copied first then Apple later.

  • jdog25

    I thought they borrowed that idea from another company many years ago.

  • jdog25

    That he is but where would Apple be without Xerox.

  • GregsTechBlog

    Not borrowed. Bought. Xerox got shares out of it, and Apple hired Xerox employees who were on Xerox’s failing project. 

  • jdog25

    Damn that was a big sacrifice, I hate IE.

  • GregsTechBlog

    Who knows? I assume Apple would have eventually created a GUI. After all, the Apple computer was supposed to be for everyone. 

  • jdog25

    Wasn’t Apple buying stock just to get them in the door.

  • Guest

    Too bad he didn’t have the guts to say it in person

  • Alex

    I am long time Apple user… But I never thought Steve was a particularly likable person and I never bought into the cult of personality around him.  

  • Phil

    Who the hell are all these people, this is CultOfMac, go back to macrumors with your Microsoft sympathizing bull ****. lol J/K.

  • Phil

    Apple rips of Xerox,

    Okay, lets examine what happened here. Xerox had a great, revolutionary thing going on here but they didn’t do !@#$ with it! (I realize I curse a lot and am trying to keep it down) Apple simply took the idea of running programs on a graphical user interface and brought it to life! 

    You’re forgetting that Apple is made up of really impressive people. The people who developed this idea joined Apple. Apple didn’t ‘steal’ Xerox’s idea, because giving away stuff isn’t stealing. Xerox invited Apple in and let them have it. On to Microsoft

    M$ Did rip off Apple. Next on the list:

    I think you’re forgetting that Apple doesn’t rip things off, Apple buys it, and no, it’s not the same. 

    Yes M$ continues to rip off ?

    You got that right! (about android)

    6: HOW????????????

  • debunker

    Don’t be a revisionist.

    There’s a hell of difference between being inspired by something (Apple by Xerox) and shamelessly mimicking something (Microsoft from Apple.)

    Similar to the situation today (where ironically now MS is in the good guy position.) Android rips off the iPHone, but Windows Phone shows you can be inspired by something without descending to photocopying it.

  • debunker

    It was a cross-patent licensing settlement. Microsoft was the net payer on this (that alone should tell you something!)

    It’s funny how people who weren’t around then seem to have invented alternate histories of all this stuff – I have to assume they’re getting this from Gizmodo comments or something!!

    There’s nothing 2-faced about it – MS has always been seen as the evil empire to Apple. Get up to speed on this.

  • m_el

    I’m a fan of both companies using the iPad and iPhone as well as the Windows Phone and Windows based PCs. I loved the way that the Windows Phone had it’s own camera button and the way that you could swipe to see the other photos from within the camera app. Then Apple brought out the same features exactly so I wouldn’t say that Apple doesn’t copy BUT Microsoft have copied more BUT they’re both businesses and you have to be ruthless in business and they both are

  • debunker

    If you’ve read any Apple history you’d know he has. Many times.

  • Guest

    Except that isn’t the context that he was using it at all. Jobs was using the quote – which is a quote that is attributed to Picasso – to explain how he and his team tried to bring real world inspiration into their products (something that Apple’s competitors are still apparently unable to appreciate).

    Jobs was talking about stealing like an artist – stealing his inspiration from the natural world, from cultures, from philosophy, and then having the ability to take ownership of those elemental understandings in order to create beautiful products. He’s not talking about stealing features from rival operating systems. Watch the whole interview, and that point should be readily clear to you.

    In fact, Jobs is actually referring to the quote as it is meant to be understood. The quote isn’t about stealing things, it’s about an artists ability to take hold of something, to internalize it to the point that it becomes his own, and then being able to reproduce it in another medium in its purest form. Think Johnny Cash singing about being in prison before having gone to prison.

    I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen this quote misused and misappropriated to Steve Jobs. Unsurprisingly it’s almost always done by Google zealots (who are usually also teenagers). That said, in this day and age there is really no excuse for doing your homework and learning about the meaning of things before you spout nonsensical drivel.

  • Ronteras

    Well, its all over again.

    Apple bought the technology from XeroX PARC in exchange of 10 million apple shares. 

  • Guest

    Apple didn’t really steal much from Xerox. Everyone assumes that Xerox had developed some advanced GUI that Apple lifted. That isn’t the case at all. Xerox had developed the germ of the idea for the GUI, and Apple was only privy to a short product demonstration.

    No doubt that what Jobs and co saw at Xerox was profound. For Jobs, it was nothing short of a life altering experience (as interviews seem to indicate). And it proved to change the course of Apple forever. But to say that Apple simply stole it all from Xerox seems to give Xerox a little too much credit, and perhaps also doesn’t give Apple nearly enough. In terms of developing the modern GUI – that was the work of the Macintosh team.

    Also, the term stealing (or rip, as you put it) has very specific legal contexts. Apple was authorized by Xerox to see their work. Whether it was a mistake for Xerox to allow this is debatable – but what is clear is that regardless of who invented the GUI, it was Apple that innovated on it, brought it to market, and profoundly and irreversibly changed the world of technology.

    Read more about Apple, Xerox, and the GUI here: http://www.folklore.org/StoryV

  • Guest

    No, I actually wasn’t talking about the split keyboard I was talking about the notification system. 

    All of the Android nuts point to the notification system as evidence that Apple ripped off Android. I find this ridiculous (not simply because Android is in its entirety a rip off of iOS – except for the java part, which is shamelessly stolen from Oracle, but because the statement presupposes that Android invented anything). 

    The notification system on Android is basically just a pretty version of what has existed on Palm and Windows CE/Mobile products for a decade or more (including most recently webOS). So iOS couldn’t have copied Android, because Android didn’t invent notifications – or anything else, for that matter.

  • Sindyl1923

    At the end of the day it’s all about greed and whom ever has the most money wins
     

  • Vertgrall

    Dude your tripping.

  • jdog25

    Very true but neither did Apple invent many of the things that it had in the OS, they just made them better.

    This doesn’t bother me, I’m not a fanboy.

  • jdog25

    Microsoft stole it without a doubt but they were inspired by Apple like Apple was with Xerox. Then a few years later Apple sues M$ and Xerox sues Apple claiming that the other stole the GUI idea that they invented.

  • jdog25

    They only good guy here would be Xerox.

    Apple bought 1 million dollars of stock and asked to be shown what they were working on and Xerox being stupid agreed with them since they were stock holders. 

    Then Apple was inspired so they took the idea and made it better then later M$ just flat out copied it.

    Xerox sues Apple claiming they invented the GUI and at the same time Apple sues M$ claiming that Apple invented the GUI.

    Apple did not buy the GUI or why would they have gotten sued?

    For years M$ pretty much continues to copy Apple.

    Then later down the road Apple takes all these great features like capacitive touch screen (invented in 1965) and multitouch (first shown off by M$ in 2005), brings them all together and changes the smartphone world forever. Yet again they took some ideas and improved on them, greatly.

    Google took those same ideas and being inspired by Apple changed Android to act similar. They kept multi-touch out for a long time because they wanted to be friends with Jobs. It wasn’t until an Apple employee said they Jobs was talking bad about Google in January 2010 that Google send out the update to add multi-touch, I remember they didn’t say anything, they just sent the update out.

    In the last few years Apple has taken some features that Android has been making popular and adding them to iOS, multiple were added in iOS 5. Of course like Apple Google didn’t invent these features (a fact that neither Apple or Android fanboy would admit see your previous post for example) so Apple copying them isn’t so bad because Android wouldn’t be what it is today without the iPhone.

    Being a user of all these OS’s it isn’t hard for me to admit the truth and I love Apple has much and the next person, I am writing this on a 2011 Macbook Pro.

    Pretty much the only company that hasn’t been taking or coping ideas from another is Xerox but that is probably because closed down that part of the company and some went to Apple like you said.

    Now call it what you will but these are the facts and if you love Apple and only Apple that’s cool but don’t be ignorant like the rest of the people and claim that since Apple made these awesome products that they have to have invented them. Getting a patent for an idea that someone left open for all to use doesn’t mean that you are the inventor.

    In closing I pretty much only use Apple and Android products now and I use the ones that I think are the best in their respective categories. Also yes I said that Android has some stuff that I think is better then Apples, gasp!!!

  • TeeJay1100

    Dude Apple is as corrupt as Wall Street is. So please don’t act like Apple and Jobs were sinless and Saints!

  • vikram333

    Apple paid for the privilege to get ideas from Xerox.

    Apple took the ideas of the Xerox GUI and improved significantly on them – drop down menus, trashcan, resizable and movable windows etc…

    MSFT simply copied Apple and didn’t improve on anything.

    The Xerox Star didn’t work much like the Mac.  Windows on the other hand, works exactly like the Mac.

  • GregsTechBlog

    And Palm and Microsoft got ideas from Apple’s Newton.
    In fact, the Palm interface, if you’ll remember, was mostly just a list of programs that actually emulated a folder view in Microsoft Windows. iOS was truly different from the PDAs of the past. 

  • GregsTechBlog

    Actually, Apple gave Xerox stock. Xerox actually wanted to sue Microsoft, as did Apple, for infringing on both their designs. 

  • GregsTechBlog

    Yeah, but it’s been said that Xerox only sued Apple to get precedence to sue Microsoft. That was their real target. The judge threw the case against Apple out, however, leaving only Apple in a position to sue Microsoft.

    I have no idea how Apple lost the lawsuit to Microsoft. 

  • debunker

    Geez – do facts matter anymore?

    Apple sued MS for copying the look and feel of the Mac, not for making a GUI.

    There were many GUIs. Of all kinds. Jobs even created a 2nd one, Next.

    But Windows was a knockoff of the Mac – that was the problem.

    No pride or imagination at MS.

  • debunker

    I should say: … at that time.

    Things have changed, and I will give them credit for, heh, thinking a little different these days, with the Windows Phone..  that’s more like it.

    That’s all anyone asks – find your own path. Is it so hard? Take a few nanoseconds and don’t be so derivative.

    Windows phone shows (1) that that this is possible and (2) unintenionalyy shows up Android for the knockoff it is.

  • jdog25

    Here is an article on the Apple/M$ lawsuit.

    http://community.seattletimes….

  • jdog25

    I always find it kinda hard to see the similarities between iOS and Android OS except that they have a touch screen and have apps, none of which they were the first to do. Of course I only use stock Android, now Samsung’s TouchWiz skin is a straight up iOS knock off and it is so bad that you have to have a dual core for your phone to work right.

  • GregsTechBlog

    Pinch to zoom, similar gestures, the app screens, the fact that before the iPhone they weren’t even making a touch screen phone. The UI is similar, and yes, Samsung’s is the worst offender. 

  • jdog25

    I hope that Samsung is made to change their skin and not just for coping Apple but also for Android’s sake, its very horrible and super hard to take off a phone. I always tell Samsung Android Touchwiz users to use stock Android or to get an iPhone.

  • debunker

    Look and feel, at least as Apple described it, was judged not to be protectable. Doesn’t mean that it wasn’t copied, but at least by that court, not protectable.

  • debunker

    100% correct on the Newton stuff. The dock, everything.

  • Jonathan Lezou Dali

    lol he did

  • Guest

    That’s true. My issue is with the claim that Apple took something from Android. Android didn’t invent nor does it lay claim to anything – so it’s not possible for Apple to have borrowed, stolen, or even been inspired by Android.

  • Guest

    Oh I completely agree. Microsoft and Apple have a long history of inspiring each other. My issue was basically with the BS claim that Android invented notifications (or anything for that matter).

  • Guest

    Ya totally yo.

  • vistarox

    How is Aero remotely similar to Aqua. I use my MacBook Pro and Windows laptop everyday and I see no similarity whatsoever.

  • vistarox

    What about iOS 5. The Notification Center is pretty similar to Android’s notification system. ‘

  • vistarox

    Can we please stop accusing everyone of copying each other. All the changes in the OS’s were natural steps to move technology forward. If no one ever “copied” anyone we would all still be using Apple Lisa and MS-DOS. 

  • vistarox

    IE9 really isn’t too bad. But I still prefer Chrome

  • vistarox

    Microsoft was planning Instant Search and Gadgets long before Apple even announced them. If anyone stole anything it would be Apple. But we should really stop saying everyone ripped off each other. Do you really thing that because Apple got Spotlight to market first, no one else should have instant search technology in their operating systems. 

  • Steven Zahl

    BILL GATES saved his skin once.

  • Dilbert A

    They had a SIDE DEAL.

  • Dilbert A

    miss.

  • HerbalEd

    While Steve Jobs worked very hard at winning, he did not at all seem to care about the money. Of course, sales/profits are a great way to keep score.

  • HerbalEd

    How do you know he didn’t? 

  • HerbalEd

    Where would virtually all companies be without competition? 

  • HerbalEd

    Yes, actually, it is very, very hard. That’s why many companies steal/cheat. 

  • ooomyfuckingod

    oh please people) Xerox, GUI)) last year Bill forgot to send Steve a Xmas card and
    Steve pissed off and said that, then Walter Isaacson put that in his
    fairytale book)

    and did he really said that?) now after Steve’s death
    who can prove the book writer is a liar)

  • Crossphire Dev

    That is, of course, your right.  I know plenty of people that rub me the wrong way.

  • Phil

    Alright, you’re right. I guess what I should be defending, or pointing out, rather than arguing about who stole what is where we are now. Let me tell you something, and you say it a lot. “inspiration” is what Apple has here. 

    I know that you have got to agree with me that when I say that if it wasn’t for Apple, cellphones would still look like they did 10 to 15 years ago. The computer, if it had not been for Apple, would still be like it was 10 to 15 years ago. There is clearly a driving force here that pushes other competitors to innovate.

    Just because someone figures out you can make a chair out of wood doesn’t mean that he is the best at it. So what if apple didn’t invent multi touch? Like you said, it was invented years ago. If it wasn’t for Apple, it would still be locked up in someone’s basement, a forgotten technology. So what if Xerox invented the GUI, they tried to sell it as a business computer and they failed. Apple didn’t do so hot, but M$ really did.

    Tablets have been around way before the iPad, even the Newton. But if it wasn’t for Steve and his team, a tablet would just be another clunky piece of shit you have to use with a stylus, no better than god damn etch-a-sketch.

    If it wasn’t for Apple and their iPhone, you wouldn’t have your precious Android, at least not like it is now. The closest thing would be Palm.

    Apple is a company that is committed, not to changing things, but to advancing things, making them better. Yeah, they get changed along the way.

    It’s a shame really, until Apple showed up with the iPhone, we thought the Razor was ahead of it’s time with its thin body. The only regret I have about Apple being who they are is that I realize now how far back some companies have held us as far as technology goes. Now, we turn to the world and wonder, what would it be like if more companies thought like Apple?

    Things we see today as advance, in this other universe, could be like the clunky old handsets of yesterday.

    But, since companies don’t think like that, they instead are cows. And today Apple has the bell. What a shame.

  • Christopher Welsh

    if i recall correctly, both job and gates in their early years, originally stole code from xerox, and that became the basis of both windows and mac interfaces today. so yeah pot called the kettle black there

  • Christopher Welsh

    “You’re ripping us off!” jobs shouted. “I trusted you, and now you’re stealing from us!” Gates just sat there coolly, looking Steve in the eye, before hurling back, in his squeaky voice, what became a classic zinger. “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.” – taken from jobs’ autobiography

About the author

John BrownleeJohn Brownlee is a Contributing Editor. He has also written for Wired, Playboy, Boing Boing, Popular Mechanics, VentureBeat, and Gizmodo. He lives in Boston with his girlfriend and two parakeets. You can follow him here on Twitter.

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