Bill Gates steps down to do charity work. Why not start out by giving the software world the greatest gift of all, without spending a dime?
IBM makes a development & server operating system. So does Sun. Oracle may as well be doing so. And all three of them also develop and serve on another OS: Linux. Apple does the same with NetBSD. There’s a reason for this: *nix operating systems are super fast, ultra stable stable and very secure.
These features are exactly what Microsoft is missing. The ONLY claim to legitimacy MS has is a widely known interface and a large backwards compatibility factor. And these have both been eroded with Vista and it’s recent top-down rewrite. So why not do what Apple did, and gain all the base advantages of a *nix core?
If Microsoft started planning a next generation OS based on *nix now, they could solve all of these problems by the time it shipped, with an operating system that could be viable for ten years (double that of today’s windows install). Backwards compatibility with your beloved MS Office & Quake 4 could be handled with a WINE layer, and all those old windows programs will run quickly on your average 2010 clockcycling monster of a desktop (or thin client to your server).
And best of all, the UI could become Microsoft’s prime resource focus, so they could devote even more vast resources to improving human / computer interaction.
MS will probably never agree to the Linux GPL model, but what’s wrong with a nice, free BSD license? It basically enforces the freedom to do what you want, just as Apple does. Not that you would want to ever copy from Apple.
Bill, I know you still pull some water up in Redmond. Why don’t you make your first charitable contribution to the industry that made you rich, and have them toss a few million into Minix 2010?