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Bill Gates’ One Windows Regret: CTRL, ALT, DELETE

By September 30, 2017May 22nd, 2021Technology News


It’s a series of keystrokes that pretty much everyone who has ever used a Windows PC knows well. It is, after all, your escape hatch. When the program starts misbehaving, it’s a user’s go-to keystroke command to force-quit the issue, and surprisingly, Bill Gates said in a recent interview that it’s one of his few regrets.

While that might surprise some, it’s important to note that he wasn’t saying he wished the keystroke command had never been offered – it would be difficult to imagine Windows without it, or something like it!—but merely that he wished it had been included as a single-key function, rather than a three-key function that made it difficult to issue.

Part of the blame for its current form, though, lies with IBM, which initially implemented the function as an interrupt command. Their goal, back in the 80’s, was to make it an inconvenient function that required two hands to issue, so that users wouldn’t execute it accidentally, and it stuck. We’ve had Control-Alt-Delete ever since.

When Gates sat down with Bloomberg recently, he was asked a lot of questions about the arc of his life and the role he played in making Windows the dominant OS in the computing world. Part of the reason Gates said he doesn’t have many regrets is that to change even one minor detail about the way things developed would have an enormous butterfly effect that would ripple throughout the entire industry with unpredictable consequences.

Still, the relative inconvenience of the three-key interrupt command sticks out in his mind as something that he’d change if he could get a do-over today. By introducing it in Windows 3.x, it became an enduring fixture in the computing world, one that remains with us to this very day.

It’s an interesting interview, and well worth the time to read. Check it out on the Bloomberg site.

Jason Manteiga

Jason Manteiga

Jason J. Manteiga, Vice President of Olmec Systems, has been part of the company for over the past 20 years. He believes that having a great work environment and supportive team, is the ultimate key to success. Since being in the IT realm for over 25 years, Jason, along with Olmec Systems, has been on the Inc. 5000 “List of America’s Fastest Growing Private Companies” and Channel Futures MSP 501 “Top Managed Service Providers in North America,” along with other awards and nominations. Jason earned his Bachelor Degree in Information Systems from the New Jersey Institute of Technology. He also holds certifications in Microsoft MCSE, VMWare VCP, and Cisco CCNA. In his spare time, Jason is a contributor for The Center for Social & Legal Research (Privacy Exchange) and a member of the Morris County Chamber of Commerce. His hobbies include cycling and kayaking. He currently lives in New Jersey with his wife, two daughters and son.

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