Why Bill Gates missed the opening

Seems like just yesterday that Microsoft Canada was celebrating the opening of its shiny headquarters at 320 Matheson Blvd. in Mississauga, Ont.

It was the fall of 1990 and Microsoft chairman Bill Gates was not yet known as the world’s richest man and in fact he was barely known at all. How

else could it be explained that then features editor at Computing Canada (CDN’s sister publication), Paul Barker, was granted a one-on-one interview with BG III while the daily papers didn’t cover that Gates visit to Toronto at all.

How things have changed. Gates didn’t bother showing up at the March 27th official opening of Microsoft Canada’s new Mississauga, Ont.-based headquarters. And had he done so – and with all due respect to my colleagues at Computing Canada – there’s no way he would have granted a one-on-one interview to a staffer at the magazine, while the daily papers would have been falling all over each other clamouring for an audience with Gates.

(Although in fairness to Gates and his handlers and their regard for the media, CDN editorial director Martin Slofstra was among a handful of journalists who were given a chance to interview Gates at a Microsoft conference in last year.

In the fall of 1990 few outside the computer business had heard of Bill Gates or Microsoft. Or Cisco, or Oracle or Intel for that matter.

Such has been the incredible growth of the importance of computers to our society that it would be extremely difficult today to find someone who does not know who Bill Gates is. Granted most of those who are familiar with Microsoft, Cisco, Oracle or Intel has that knowledge not because of the current ubiquity of Windows, LANs, SQL databases and microprocessors. No, it is the popularity of such companies’ share values that make them a topic of conversation in steam rooms around the world.

But no matter what level of familiarity any of us have with Microsoft, all Canadians should consider themselves darn lucky that Gates and Paul Allen invented MS-DOS and that it led to everything else that followed and that Microsoft established such a strong presence on our soil.

An IDC Canada consulting study reveals that more than 73,000 Canadians are employed by Canadian IT companies that provide sales and services in support of Microsoft software products and services, and more than $5.5 billion is contributed to the economy annually in product and services expenditures and salaries.

And the most pleased among us should be the country’s value-added resellers because of Microsoft’s devotion to the channel.

Microsoft works with thousands of independent software vendors, system integrators and value-added resellers. And they have a 100 per cent channel model.

Other IDC findings include that the Canadian software and IT channel as a whole accounts for $16.6 billion in product and services expenditures; the channel as a whole employs 209,000 people; and the Canadian s

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