Businesses not forced to use Microsoft, Gates claims

Bill Gates used his last UK appearance before his 'retirement' to defend claims that businesses are forced into a corner to use Microsoft products because they haven't got the choice rather than because they want to.

The software giant's chairman was in London this morning to speak at an Institute of Directors (IoD) world leader lunch entitled 'An Audience with Bill Gates' where he talked about future trends for consumers and businesses as well as his foundation.

It was after his speech, when questions were opened up to the audience - more than a 1,000-strong - that Microsoft came under verbal attack from the chief information officer of a law firm who said that although the company had lots of competition in the consumer space this was not so in the corporate world. He went on to claim that he has the freedom with other suppliers to fire them and re-engage with them if and when they change their terms and conditions but that he felt he had no choice but to stick with Microsoft.

"I'd like to see the terms and conditions you have with IBM...We could match those right away," Gates quipped back before embarking on a more serious defence.

"People do have lots of choice in these things. [You can] choose to user older versions, choose to use alternative things. There is tonne of stuff out there. [In the business space there's] IBM, Oracle, lots and lots of companies. [Competition] is there, it just doesn't get covered as much."

Gates then said he believes the business world, including Microsoft and competitors, is home to some amazing innovation.

Turning the spotlight away from the negativity of perceived lack of competition, he added: "People should wish other parts of commerce were as competitive and innovative as the software space. Just think what food would cost and the advances you would have experienced."

Maggie Holland

Maggie has been a journalist since 1999, starting her career as an editorial assistant on then-weekly magazine Computing, before working her way up to senior reporter level. In 2006, just weeks before ITPro was launched, Maggie joined Dennis Publishing as a reporter. Having worked her way up to editor of ITPro, she was appointed group editor of CloudPro and ITPro in April 2012. She became the editorial director and took responsibility for ChannelPro, in 2016.

Her areas of particular interest, aside from cloud, include management and C-level issues, the business value of technology, green and environmental issues and careers to name but a few.