Bill Gates Quotations

Bill Gates (William Henry Gates III) / b. 1950 / Washington state, USA / Computer Scientist, Entrepreneur, Co-Founder of Microsoft Corporation

Big Pharma

This leads to the paradox, that because the disease is only in the poor countries, there is not much investment. For example, there is more money put into baldness drugs, than are put into malaria. Now, baldness, it is a terrible thing [audience laughter] and rich men are afflicted, so that is why that priority is set.

Bill Gates, “Mosquitos, Malaria, and Education,” TED Talk, February, 2009.


Any operating system without a browser is going to be f***ing out of business. Should we improve our product, or go out of business?

“In Search of the Real Bill Gates,” Time, January 13, 1997.


There are no significant bugs in our released software that any significant number of users want fixed. . . . I’m saying we don’t do a new version to fix bugs. We don’t. Not enough people would buy it. You can take a hundred people using Microsoft Word. Call them up and say “Would you buy a new version because of bugs?” You won’t get a single person to say they’d buy a new version because of bugs. We’d never be able to sell a release on that basis.

Focus Magazine, number 43, October 23, 1995.

Business Strategy

One thing we have got to change in our strategy—allowing Office documents to be rendered very well by other peoples browsers is one of the most destructive things we could do to the company. We have to stop putting any effort into this and make sure that Office documents very well depend on PROPRIETARY IE capabilities.

Memo to the Office product group, 1998.

About three million computers get sold every year in China, but people don’t pay for the software. Someday they will, though. As long as they are going to steal it, we want them to steal ours. They’ll get sort of addicted, and then we’ll somehow figure out how to collect sometime in the next decade.

Speech at the University of Washington, reported in “Gates, Buffett a bit bearish,” CNET News, July 2, 1998.

Sometimes we do get taken by surprise. For example, when the Internet came along, we had it as a fifth or sixth priority. It wasn’t like somebody told me about it and I said, “I don’t know how to spell that.” I said, “Yeah, I’ve got that on my list, so I’m okay.” But there came a point when we realized it was happening faster and was a much deeper phenomenon than had been recognized in our strategy.

Speech at the University of Washington, reported in “Gates, Buffett a bit bearish,” CNET News, July 2, 1998.

We don’t have the user centricity. Until we understand context, which is way beyond presence—presence is the most trivial notion, just am I on this device or not; it doesn’t say am I meeting with something, am I focused on writing something.

Speech, NET Briefing Day, July 24, 2002.


If you show people the problems and you show people the solutions they will be moved to act.

Interview, Live8, July 2, 2005, as reported on BBC News, July 24, 2005.


Most governments take advantage of their scientists and listen to them. They don’t undermine them and attack them.

Matthew J. Belvedere, “Bill Gates slams U.S. on Covid: ‘Most governments listen to their scientists, not attack them,'” October 14, 2020.

We always have to be serious about public health in a global sense and surveillance for “the next one”, because we don’t know where it will emerge.

Lisa M. Krieger, “Coronavirus: Bill Gates describes what we did wrong, and how to do better,” Mercury News, October 21, 2020.

Education Policy

Just giving people devices has a really horrible track record. You really have to change the curriculum and the teacher. And it’s never going to work on a device where you don’t have a keyboard-type input. Students aren’t there just to read things. They’re actually supposed to be able to write and communicate. And so it’s going to be more in the PC realm—it’s going to be a low-cost PC that lets them be highly interactive.

“A Conversation with Bill Gates about the Future of Higher Education,” Chronicle of Higher Education, June 25, 2012.


One of the wonderful things about the information highway is that virtual equity is far easier to achieve than real-world equity…We are all created equal in the virtual world and we can use this equality to help address some of the sociological problems that society has yet to solve in the physical world,

Bill Gates, The Road Ahead (1995).

Film Media

Understand that [Blu-ray] is the last physical format there will ever be.

 Interview, The Daily Princetonian, Oct 14, 2000.

Gates on Gates

It’s possible, you can never know, that the universe exists only for me. If so, it’s sure going well for me, I must admit.

“In Search of the Real Bill Gates,” Time, January 13, 1997.

I wish I wasn’t [the world’s richest man] . . . There’s nothing good that comes out of that. You get more visibility as a result of it.

 Online advertising conference in Redmond, Washington, reported in The Guardian, May 5, 2006.

The best way to prepare [to be a programmer] is to write programs, and to study great programs that other people have written. In my case, I went to the garbage cans at the Computer Science Center and fished out listings of their operating system.

Suzanne Lammers, Programmers at Work: Interviews With 19 Programmers Who Shaped the Computer Industry (1989).

Global Warming

The only way you can get to the very positive scenario is by great innovation. Innovation really does bend the curve.

Christopher Adams and John Thornhill, “Gates to double investment in renewable energy projects: Microsoft co-founder takes interest in new areas of research like in solar, high wind and new nuclear,” Financial Times, June 25, 2015.

I [have become] convinced of three things: 1. To avoid a climate disaster, we have to get to get to zero {net emissions by the year 2050}. 2. We need to deploy the tools we already have, like solar and wind, faster and smarter. 3. And we need to create and roll out breakthrough technologies that can take us the rest of the way.

Bill Gates, How to Avoid a Climate Disaster: The Solutions We Have and the Breakthroughs We Need (2021).

Immigration Policy

I’m a big believer that as much as possible, and there’s obviously political limitations, freedom of migration is a good thing.

“Bill Gates backs immigration reform on Mexico trip,” Reuters, March 21, 2007.

Microchip Capacity

I have to say that in 1981, making those decisions, I felt like I was providing enough freedom for 10 years. That is, a move from 64 K to 640 K felt like something that would last a great deal of time. Well, it didn’t—it took about only 6 years before people started to see that as a real problem.

Speech on the history of the microcomputer industry, 1989.

I laid out memory so the bottom 640 K was general purpose RAM and the upper 384 I reserved for video and ROM, and things like that. That is why they talk about the 640 K limit. It is actually a limit, not of the software, in any way, shape, or form, it is the limit of the microprocessor. That thing generates addresses, 20-bits addresses, that only can address a megabyte of memory. And, therefore, all the applications are tied to that limit. It was ten times what we had before. But to my surprise, we ran out of that address base for applications within—oh five or six years people were complaining.

Interview: Winner of the 1993 Price Waterhouse Leadership Award for Lifetime Achievement, Computerworld Smithsonian Awards, National Museum of American History—Smithsonian Institution, 1993.


Instead of buying airplanes and playing around like some of our competitors, we’ve rolled almost everything back into the company.

Comment to reporters during the IBM PC launch, 1981.

As soon as I learned about this miracle of chip making I thought, what is the key missing element? . . . I’d been working on software so I decided that maybe that was what was necessary to bring all this power to life. I talked about that with a friend, Paul Allen, and we kept saying, “What can we do? Can we start our own software company?” It seemed impossible at the time because software was not done by independent companies. The companies that built the computers—IBM and DEC—they did all the software. And when we called them up and said, “We would like to do an operating system,” they said, “who are you?” to which we said, “we’re high-school students.” That was s, uh—that was the end of that conversation.

Speech to the Economic Club of Detroit,1997.

We’ve done some good work, but all of these products become obsolete so fast. . . . It will be some finite number of years, and I don’t know the number—before our doom comes.

Daniel Gross, Forbes Greatest Business Stories of All Time (1997).

Microsoft has had clear competitors in the past. It’s a good thing we have museums to document that.

Speech at the Computer History Museum, reported in InfoWorld magazine, October, 2001.

Before Paul and I started the company, we had been involved in some large-scale software projects that were real disasters. They just kept pouring people in, and nobody knew how they were going to stabilize the project. We swore to ourselves that we would do better.

Suzanne Lammers, Programmers at Work: Interviews With 19 Programmers Who Shaped the Computer Industry (1989).

OS/2 Operating System

I believe OS/2 is destined to be the most important operating system, and possibly program, of all time.

OS/2 Programmers Guide, November, 1987.

Personal Computing

Personal computing today is a rich ecosystem encompassing massive PC-based data centers, notebook and Tablet PCs, handheld devices, and smart cell phones. It has expanded from the desktop and the data center to wherever people need it—at their desks, in a meeting, on the road or even in the air.

Bill Gates, “The PC Era Is Just Beginning,” Business Week, March 22, 2005.

Gary Kildall was one of the original pioneers of the PC revolution. He was a very creative computer scientist who did excellent work. Although we were competitors, I always had tremendous respect for his contributions to the PC industry. His untimely death was very unfortunate and he and his work will be missed.

“Gary Kildall,” special edition of The Computer Chronicles, 1995.

If you just want to say, “Steve Jobs invented the world, and then the rest of us came along,” that’s fine. If you’re interested, [Vista development chief] Jim Allchin will be glad to educate you feature by feature what the truth is. . . . Let’s be realistic, who came up with “File/Edit/View/Help”? Do you want to go back to the original Mac and think about where those interface concepts came from?

Interview with Steven Levy, “Finally, Vista Makes Its Debut. Now What?,” Newsweek, January 31, 2007.

Product Development

If something is expensive to develop, and somebody’s not going to get paid, it won’t get developed. So you decide: Do you want software to be written, or not?

Interview with Dennis Bathory-Kitsz in 80 Microcomputing, 1980.

Science and Religion

In terms of doing things I take a fairly scientific approach to why things happen and how they happen. I don’t know if there’s a god or not, but I think religious principles are quite valid.

Interview with David Frost, PBS, November, 1995.

Just in terms of allocation of time resources, religion is not very efficient. There’s a lot more I could be doing on a Sunday morning.

“In Search of the Real Bill Gates,” Time, January 13, 1997.

The moral systems of religion, I think, are superimportant. We’ve raised our kids in a religious way; they’ve gone to the Catholic church that Melinda goes to and I participate in. I’ve been very lucky, and therefore I owe it to try and reduce the inequity in the world. And that’s kind of a religious belief. I mean, it’s at least a moral belief.

Interview, Rolling Stone, March 27, 2014.

Software Development

It’s not manufacturers trying to rip anybody off or anything like that. There’s nobody getting rich writing software that I know of.

Interview with Dennis Bathory-Kitsz in 80 Microcomputing, 1980.

There’s only one trick in software, and that is using a piece of software that’s already been written.

Interview with Electronics magazine, 1989.

What we’re saying to people is that every idea about ease-of-use, we can develop in software, for the PC, without asking them to buy new hardware, without asking them to throw away their old applications.

Interview with Charlie Rose, PBS, November 25, 1996.

It’s easier for our software to compete with Linux when there’s piracy than when there’s not.

Fortune, July 17, 2007.


Like almost everyone who uses e-mail, I receive a ton of spam every day. Much of it offers to help me get out of debt or get rich quick. It would be funny if it weren’t so irritating.

Bill Gates, “Why I Hate Spam,” Microsoft PressPass, 2003.

Spam will be a thing of the past in two years’ time.

Reported on BBC News, January 24, 2004.


Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose.

Bill Gates, The Road Ahead (1995).

Unhappy Customers

Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.

Bill Gates, Business @ The Speed of Thought: Succeeding in the Digital Economy (1999).


When I was a kid, the disaster we worried about most was a nuclear war. . . . If anything kills over 10 million people in the next few decades, it’s most likely to be a highly infectious virus rather than a war. Not missiles, but microbes.

Bill Gates, “The next outbreak? We’re not ready,” TED talk, April 3, 2015.