Five thousand Microsoft Corp. employees gather in Seattle's cavernous Kingdome. As the houselights dim, a spotlight follows a red Corvette with the word "Windows" written across its door. Microsoft Executive Vice-President Steven A. Ballmer steps out from behind the wheel, pumps his fist into the air, and leads the crowd in a chant: "Windows, Windows, Windows, Windows." Next, the spotlight jumps to an Edsel making its way into the arena. It's emblazoned with "OS/2," the name of IBM's competing software. Then, as the song Leader of the Pack blares from the loudspeakers, 10 leather-clad bikers roar in on Harleys. The lead biker: lanky, owl-eyed William H. Gates III. The crowd roars, as it would for a rock star.

To continue reading this article you must be a Bloomberg Professional Service Subscriber.