Bill Gates might not always seem to have his finger on the pulse of modern culture, but he has surrounded himself with those who do.
The company recently announced it had chosen Madonna’s “Ray of Light” as the theme song for Windows XP. While it’s not hard to understand why Microsoft would look to the queen of reinvention for some pointers, I thought a Michael Jackson song might have been more appropriate.
Like Gates, who officially launched XP Thursday with much fanfare, Michael Jackson (who I will hereafter refer to as “Jacko”) is preparing his own career comeback, Invincible, for release next week. Both men are certainly fond of celebrity stunts to grab attention: while Jacko recently appeared with *Nsync during the MTV Video Awards, Gates is reportedly getting ready for his close-up on Frasier.
The more I think about it, the more I see some eerie similarities between the man behind the world’s best-selling album (Thriller) and the man behind the world’s best-selling software. The chart below represents the results of an in-depth research investigation I conducted over a 15-minute period.
|Character traits||Grand ambition, messianic tendencies||Grand ambition, messianic tendencies|
|Self-created title||King of Pop||Chief Software Architect|
|Vocal tone||Pre-pubescent falsetto||Mid-pubescent squeak|
|Theme park hangout||Disneyland||Comdex|
|Classic dance move||Moonwalk||Stepping down as MS prez|
|Greatest Hit||“Beat it”||Windows 95|
|Big Scandal||Alleged child abuse||Anti-trust investigation|
|Audience turn-off||The little kids||Software Assurance|
|Next Generation||Janet Jackson||Linus Torvalds|
|Talentless hangers-on||The Jackson 5||Microserfs|
|Annoying pet||Bubbles the Chimp||Clippy|
|Bodyguard||Elizabeth Taylor||Steve Ballmer|
|Formerly relevant arch enemy||M.C. Hammer||U.S. Justice Dept.|
Still not convinced? Maybe the deciding factor is greed. Jacko simply wants everyone to buy his CD; Gates wants his software to make itself felt throughout our lives. Sounds monopolistic, but perhaps Jacko sang it best: “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough.”