Gates and Jobs appear together on stage

Microsoft and Apple leaders share the stage at The Wall Street Journal's D5 Executive Conference.

Wall Street Journal's




Jobs described Gates and himself as "the two luckiest guys on the planet." Gates, he said, "built the first software company in the industry. And I think he built the first software company before anyone in our industry knew what a software company was, and that was huge."

The Microsoft co-founder was equally complimentary.

"What Steve's done is phenomenal," he said, both in founding Apple and then reinventing the company when he returned on 1997 after an absence of 10 years.

"In a certain sense we build the products we want to use ourselves," Gates said. "He's really pursued that with an incredible taste and elegance and had a huge impact on the industry. Apple literally was failing when Steve went back and re-infused innovation and risk-taking that have been phenomenal. So the industry has benefited immensely from his work. I'd say he's contributed as much as anyone."

The ensuing conversation recalled Jobs decision on returning to Apple to drop the decade-long animosity to Microsoft and concentrate instead on what Apple itself was doing. And Gates played a role in that, providing a Mac version of Office which he said has been 'great business'. Later Jobs said that he wished that in Apple's early days he and fellow founder Steve Wozniak had been prepared to work with other companies in the way that Microsoft had.

In fact, the two men only failed to see eye-to-eye when Jobs talked about Apple's Get a Mac advertising campaign featuring the Mac and PC characters. Gates did not seem to be persuaded when Jobs said that the belittled PC Guy is what makes the ads work.

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