The 13th January 2000 is a historic date. The day when Bill Gates announced to his employees in an e-mail classified as 'very important' that he intended to 'change the way that people work, communicate and play'. At the same time, he put an end to quarter of a century presiding over Microsoft to manage this new mission, and henceforth contented himself with the modest title of 'Director of software design'. Bill Gates, mastermind of four out of five computers, thanks to his 'operating systems', his word processing and spreadsheet software, decided to get down off his pedestal to better address the supposed needs 'of the people'. It must be said that it's not the first time he has done this since he claims to have already succeeded in 'putting a computer in every office and every home'. That claim is a little exaggerated, since Bill Gates has never built a computer, but does that matter? Has not Microsoft software, renowned for its inefficiency and bugs, generated the largest commercial and financial success in the last quarter of the 20th century? That is the real yardstick, the only one that counts: one of success, popularity, and massive product diffusion. The voices of the critics of these products carry a lot less weight in the face of the mastermind who highlighted the beauty of his act of having equipped so many households that were still living in the Stone Age.
Hence it seems that rumours of massacres are no longer necessary to trouble cities and rule the world. Which validates once again the accuracy of the suggestion of Simonade to the tyrant Hieron:'Become he who makes the city most prosperous (...) remember this, if you take victory in the most beautiful and magnificent competition there be in the world. In the first instance, you will succeed in making yourself loved by your subjects, which is precisely the object of your desires ; and secondly, there would not be just one herald to proclaim your victory, but all men would celebrate your virtue (...)' Clearly, Bill Gates heard the lesson of Xenophone and put it into action .
It is that the desire ' to change the way in which people work, communicate and play' is a ridiculously anodyne project: a planetary ambition, which could hardly not rouse the excitement of the masses, starting with the billion people or more who do not have access to electricity. An ambition that lifts the mask of smiling goodwill to uncover a tyrannical face, which would certainly not have left George Orwell indifferent.
The most able are always treacherous, and Bill Gates is no exception to this. In fact, the very day that he announced his resignation from the presidency, he took time to specify to his employees in another e-mail that: 'If some of you think that this decision means that I will devote less time to Microsoft, they could not be further from the truth.' The barely veiled threat: do not think that I am retiring and will no longer be capable of closely surveying the performance of each and every one of you. In fact, this retirement from front of house management must not be interpreted as a loss in power of the party concerned, but on the contrary as a sign of its increase.
Here is where the limits of the 'goodwill' of Bill Gates are drawn, this wise man, full of spirituality, fortune made, is going back into his laboratory for the progress of Humanity. De fait, abandoning his first plan of action puts himself in a better position to govern his troupes, his enemies and 'the ret of the world'. The announced retreat is only portentious of subtler, but far more wide-reaching conquests.
Domination in its brutal and physical form is no longer the tool of the new masters- simple, unremarkable, in their sweater and trainers. It has left its traditional appearance behind in order to impose itself in a dematerialised form: domination that you no longer see or hear. The main thing, as for Hieron, is to be liked, to make people forget the physical violence of tyranny, in order to better diffuse it. For 'to change the way in which people work, communicate and play', to even have the idea of such a project, the ambition to realise it, after having already succeeded in every household, every office...isn't this an extravagant quest for domination? Where will this take us? To nameless, faceless domination? To banalised domination? To domination and mind control?
Certainly, you can say that since the 13th January 2000, Microsoft has seen hard times and accumulated multiple setbacks to the point where for a moment its future was compromised. But, let us not be fooled, if Bill Gates himself cannot succeed in his project to reformat the ways of communication and exchange amongst men, others will take on the torch, who will strive on to carry it further and to achieve it.