Bill Gates is the world's most powerful computer mogul according to Alvin Hall, presenter of World's Most Powerful. But should it have been Steve Jobs?
Alvin Hall chose Bill Gates as computing's World's Most Powerful
"I will agree with anyone that Steve Jobs and Apple create products that are beautiful, elegant to use," says Alvin.
"But Bill Gates' software is everywhere. It's throughout our daily lives, therefore extending his power."
Do you agree with Alvin? Here are a selection of your comments.
Neither has the power. Computer users have the ultimate power. Every time they buy a new PC they choose which operating system they prefer. Microsoft Windows has 97% market share so the choice is slanted. But if Linux becomes a desktop OS -- which is likely -- then we could see 100 desktop operating systems in the next 5 years, all held together by internet protocols and networking application interfaces.
Steve Harmon, Senior Technology Analyst, Marketsnap.com, Silicon Valley, California USA
Bill and Melinda Gates gave $23bn to charities in the past five years according to Business Week Magazine's "50 Most Generous Philanthropists" (Dec 1, 2003). Most of the money went to wonderful causes of health and education. The 50th philanthropist gave $95m. Jobs is not even on the list.
Lee Kolts, Marshfield Wisconsin USA
If Jobs had marketed his Apple operating system in the same way as Gates, few people would know the name Microsoft today.
Kenneth Fisher, Birmingham UK
Power is one thing, style is another. Bill's got the first, Steve's got the second.
George, Athens, Greece
It's interesting that the Oxford English Dictionary refers to power as "the capacity to influence others" - sure Gates has influenced the way we work today, but isn't it Jobs that has been Gates' influence from the very start? Which came first - Gates or Jobs?
Mark Davis, London, UK
If Jobs had Gates' marketing skills or Gates had Jobs' creative genius, either would have the most "power."
Ron Bennett, Vancouver, Canada
I'm a Mac man myself, but thank God we've got both Gates & Jobs slugging it out and keeping things moving forward, which in turn makes us all more powerful. Imagine a world where there were no choices.
Spike Munro, Leicester, UK
Funny how NOBODY talks about Steve's OTHER company, Pixar, and the power he's wielding over Disney, one of the planet's BIGGEST media powerhouses, as their distribution deal is renegotiated.
John, Chicago, USA
If the question were "Is Windows more powerful than Mac OS?" then Windows obviously wins. But the question was about the men themselves: Jobs is obviously more powerful than Gates, because Jobs actively directs a trend-setting company and Gates is perceived as having very little to do with Windows.
Tom Maze, Denver Colorado
I thought the question was about power, not about intelligence, vision, ability or artistic bent. Power is about how much control someone has, about being able to make "things" happen even when there is opposition. I'm afraid Jobs does not even come close.
Simon, London, UK
The only way to measure this is by the impact it would have if either withdrew their products from the marketplace. Since virtually every major company across the globe uses Microsoft technology it is no contest.
Michael Perman, London
Bill Gates represents the ugly and often dirty corporate skylines of our metropolitan cities. Whereas Steve Jobs brings old world design, handsome and beautiful architecture to an otherwise bleak city perspective.
David, Ottawa, Canada
Bill is certainly more powerful, but for all the wrong reasons.
Stewart Macdonald, Brisbane, Australia
Steve Jobs changed the world in 1984 and has continued to do so till this day. Bill Gates has copied Steve Jobs since 1984 and is still doing so today (most recently Microsoft Music Store).
When it comes down to the obituaries, Bill Gates copied an operating system poorly, sold it to many with faults, charged them more to fix it and continued on this route till death.
Steve Jobs - started the personal computer - innovated all the way - brought new technologies, transformed operating systems and finished Microsoft off by 2010 with a new, free, cross-platform operating system.
That's all it will take.
Grahame Anderson, Greenock Scotland
The bottom line interpretation applied here is Power=Money, so it is Gates' money that wins not the person who owns it.
Steve Jobs revolutionized home computing, and the world would have been much different today without him. Everybody knows Gates wouldn't be nearly as powerful without Jobs.
Matthew, Ontario, Canada
World's most powerful now - or has made the greatest impact? Gates merely copied what he saw turning out to be a good thing and marketed it better. Having pushed the envelope in one field, Jobs then went on to another - computer generated films. There he is pushing the envelope again. There are lots of people with personalities like Gates around. There are very few with personalities like Jobs.
Dr Craig McGarrity, Canterbury
Bill Gates has the upper hand. Most people would certainly know who he is, but not many would know who Steve Jobs is.
Steven Youngs, Norwich UK
I vote Steve Jobs because if he and his colleges hadn't made the PC, Bill Gates wouldn't have a corporation called Microsoft.
N Ross, Gloucestershire
Think Different or Think Money. Steve is way ahead.
Paul Rumens, Sydney, Australia
Bill Gates is more powerful and has a better concept of how to make things work.
Bill Gates is certainly ahead of the game. The effect of networks has clearly aided Microsoft, but Jobs will need years to reach Bill Gates' level in terms of creativity and intuition.
Khaled Arikat, London, UK
Power should be measured by one's ability to influence others, not the size of one's bank account. In terms of innovation and wielding influence over the future direction of computing, Steve Jobs wins hands down.
Brian Bolton, Kirksville, Missouri, USA
Are we measuring power to monopolise an industry or the power to create a quality product?
Steven Speck, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
You don't have to be the most innovative, or smartest, or prettiest to have the most power, you just need to be the most prevalent - and Microsoft is the most prime example for such a case if one ever existed.
Jason, Shibuya, JP
It's Bill Gates by KO, round 2. Bill thinks big. He has a better vision of the future.
Computing power goes to Jobs, productive power goes to Gates. However it is productivity and wealth that gives Bill Gates the winning hand.
JP, London, UK
They are only powerful in those countries where politics are controlled by the rich.
Ben Kim, UK
I think it was interesting and important that the show decided that Gates was more powerful, but specifically did not seem to suggest that this is a good thing.
Charlotte, Great Yarmouth, Norfolk
If power is influence, then Bill Gates has influenced billions. However, Steve Jobs has influenced the influential, including Bill Gates, so who really has the power?
Alan Williams, Canada
Although I agree with Alvin's decision at this time, I can see Steve Jobs predicting the next major revolution in computing and making it happen.
Peter Griffin, UK
I think imagination is what keeps the world spinning. That's true power. And Jobs wins hands down. You can't buy imagination.
Michael, Stamford, CT, USA
I agree with Michael from Philadephia, US, when he states that: "Bill Gates moves software, Steve Jobs moves people." Steve is the one who is so keen on bringing all of these ideas into our lives.
Stuart Guthrie, Australia
How can these two gentlemen compete? They are in different leagues. Apple innovates, Microsoft markets. These are two completely different vocations.
Belire Tataie, Charlottesville USA
Long live Apple, they have changed my way of life forever.
Malcolm, Channel Islands
Bill Gates. Resistance is futile.
Hadam Hiram, Los Angeles USA
For innovative thinking, style and ideas the winner must be Jobs, but for market power, Gates has no equal - yet. It will be a hard battle for Jobs to make up that ground.
John Deane, West Wickham, Kent
Bill Gates has the upper hand. Most people would certainly know who Bill Gates is (foremostly known as the world's richest man) but not many would know who Steve Jobs is.
Steven Youngs, Norwich UK
I can't believe the comparison going on here. Microsoft products exist on 95% of the world's platforms. Apple perhaps has a small percentage of market share and don't forget Apple profits - or rather lack of. I think everyone is voting on who has curvier products. Apple gets the prize for aesthetics but not much else.
Chris Hohman, Chapel Hill, USA
Power should be measured by one's ability to influence others, not the size of one's bank account. In terms of innovation and wieding influence over the future direction of computing, Steve Jobs wins hands down.
Brian Bolton, Kirksville, Missouri, USA
Microsoft and Bill Gates are everywhere - they are accepted and standard. Apple and Steve Jobs are anything but standard, they are innovative and engaging. For my money they are the most influential.
Andrew Mykytyn, Glasgow, Scotland
Bill Gates moves software. Steve Jobs moves people.
Michael, Philadelphia, US
I think Steve Jobs has the lead on Bill Gates. But let's not forget the unsung heroes who have helped these men to get where they are.
Colin O'Sullivan, London, UK
I would have to say that in terms of setting the future of computing Jobs is more powerful.
Larry Sweeney, Birmingham, AL USA
I am a huge Apple fan, and yet I have to say that Bill Gates is currently more powerful than Steve Jobs simply because Microsoft products are everywhere.
Patrick, Toronto, Canada
How can you possibly say that a guy who invents quirky little devices that only a minority of people buy, be classed as the most powerful man in computers. Bill Gates wins this title by a tera-byte!
Ian S, Birmingham, UK
How is this even a rational question? When was the last time you saw Tony Blair have tea with Steve Jobs or launch an election campaign at his company's local HQ? Steve Jobs may have done more positive things in the world of personal computers than Gates, but in terms of power, he doesn't even come close.
Adrian, Amersham, England
This is one case where quantity is being judged against quality. This is impossible to judge as the two differ so much. Paul Dunkerley, Hemel Hempstead, United Kingdom
Power is always with talent, creativity and vision implemented well and that spells Apple, Pixar and Steve Jobs.
T Clue, Edmonton, Canada
The grey suits usually get their way in the end.
Peter Stevens, Lymington, UK
We should know the difference between power and authority. One of these two has more power, the other more authority. Power is assumed, authority flows uphill.
Ralphy, Calgary Canada
Microsoft is the one name that has brought the real computer ability to millions. It has transformed a generation and sown who knows what for public communications awareness. Marketing? Software purity? These are side issues. Bill Gates is a significant founder of the new Millennium.
Nicholas Le Santo, Bristol, United Kingdom
Bill might have loads of money but Steve has the style, both in himself and Apple as a company.
Liam Dillon, Londonderry
Bill Gates is more powerful because he sees opportunities, seizes them, and leaves the competition way behind.
Jodey, Southampton, UK
Power is nothing without control. Microsoft does make all the money, but the industry is being led by Jobs.
Rob McMinn, Nottingham, UK
Steve Jobs - Apple's innovations influence the whole computer industry time afer time.
Martin Hood, Reading, Berks
Money equals power. When it boils down to power, Bill is at the top of the list. How can Steve be more powerful when only 3% of the world use his products? Steve is more of a leader - but when it comes to power, it is clearly Bill Gates.
Matt Martin, Texas, USA
The questions wasn't who one prefers or who makes the prettiest machines/software - it is about who is the most powerful and that mantle has to go to Bill Gates.
Jeff Peacock, Exeter, Devon, UK
If power is size and money - Gates. If it is innovation and quality, then Jobs. Jobs creates while Gates assimilates.
Russ Beckner, Cincinnati, USA
While Bill Gates has loads of cash, Steve Jobs is powerful due to being able to bridge both Hollywood and Silicon Valley in a way that nobody, including Bill Gates or Larry Ellison, can.
Jason Kitcat, Brighton, UK
Steve Jobs is the more creative and intelligent, but power is about the ability to influence - and I'm afraid that's what Gates has.
John Grayston, Chelmsford, England
Knowledge is power so Jobs gets my vote.
Brian, Kendal, England
Power is politics in this day and age and if you looked into the background information, you'd see Gates is MUCH more powerful in US politics. His financial might is central to the US and global economy and he has the power to influence policy makers. He didn't fund George Bush's election campaign for fun surely! Jobs is an innovator and influential for sure, but Gates has what is real power in this world - money and politics.
Hammad Khan, Oxford
Bill Gates just got lucky. If IBM had bothered to copyright the PC properly his company wouldn't even exist now. Steve Jobs created the market that Microsoft exist in.
I have to say that I agree that Bill Gates is the most powerful, but Steve Jobs is the real innovator. I think the programme was angled more towards the money aspect of the two of them. Alvin Hall is in money related programs mainly, so his bias would have been towards Gates. But the question you have to ask is, why didn't people choose Mac over PC in the first place if it is better?
It's a shame Alvin Hall would put quantity in front of quality. Apple is steering the entire industry, how much more power can you have?
Andrew Shortt, Toronto, Canada
Steve Jobs is more powerful!
Arthur, Aylmer Canada
Bill Gates is a follower, a copier. Steve is a leader and makes the most wonderful products.
Yann, Montreal, Canada
Gates is a world class salesman. Nobody else could sell an inferior product to the world and then sell the upgrades that supposedly correct the flaws.
Steve Jobs breaks the moulds and creates products and technology that change the way people live their lives.
Steve jobs is changing the world. Bill Gates is selling software.
David, Gaithersburg, Maryland, USA
Power is about passion not money.
Euan Semple, United Kingdom
World's Most Powerful: Gates v Jobs was broadcast on
Thursday 4 December 2003 at 2150 GMT on BBC Two