Most of ya'll are not programmers.
As such, an image like this may not send thrills of terror down your spine. Please understand that for those of us whose very livelihoods depend upon the whims of this man, our reactions may not always be predictable.
Which makes the fact that he is retiring to do charity work a big, big deal. Big enough, even, to make this blog!
Not that I have an actual, meaningful opinion.
Bill leaving is not going to change my life one little bit. Microsoft can hardly become more dominant, and their demise would probably not make anyone's life better, really.
But, if you do have any interest, Joel Spolsky (whom I respect as highly as Steve McConnell, and that is HIGHLY) does have an opinion on the subject. He entitled it, My First BillG Review.
He has this to say about his first meeting directly with the man himself, after having given him a 500 page technical specification the night before.
He was asking questions. I was answering them. They were pretty easy, but I can't for the life of me remember what they were, because I couldn't stop noticing that he was flipping through the spec...
He was flipping through the spec! [Calm down, what are you a little girl?]
... and THERE WERE NOTES IN ALL THE MARGINS. ON EVERY PAGE OF THE SPEC. HE HAD READ THE WHOLE GODDAMNED THING AND WRITTEN NOTES IN THE MARGINS.
He Read The Whole Thing! [OMG SQUEEE!]
Believe me, to do that (and the other things in the article) Mr. Gates had to be a true genius. And in order to make that story interesting, Mr. Spolsky has to be a pretty good author. The whole post is a pretty fun read, if you can enjoy that kind of stuff.
Spolsky has this to say about what Bill really proved in that meeting.
It was a good point. Bill Gates was amazingly technical. He understood Variants, and COM objects, and IDispatch and why Automation is different than vtables and why this might lead to dual interfaces. He worried about date functions. He didn't meddle in software if he trusted the people who were working on it, but you couldn't bullshit him for a minute because he was a programmer. A real, actual, programmer.
My first work as a programmer was freelancing with Java on Netscape on MacIntosh. At the time that I was making a little bit of money to justify the hours I was spending bawling out the screen until it did what I wanted, Mr. Gates was saying, "I see little commercial potential for the Internet for at least ten years." Yeah, and while he was saying that, he single-handedly attempted to crush all three of my tools. He succeeded on two of them. (The third one seems to be doing a pretty good job of crushing itself all on its own. ;-)
Mr. Gates was not my favorite person.
Over the years, I have learned to respect him, but I doubt I will miss him much.