Kids today might not understand the references to “Ctrl-Alt-Delete,” that lovely, finger-twisting keyboard combination used to reboot or log on to Windows. But in a recent talk, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates explains the rationale behind the unholy trinity and admits that in hindsight, he should have insisted on a single dedicated key.
Gates explained during a conversation at a Harvard fundraising event that Ctrl-Alt-Delete, which was actually invented by IBM but put into use on Windows, came about because there was the need for a key combination that would be unique.
“You want to have something you do with the keyboard that is signaling to a very low level of the software — actually hard-coded in the hardware — that it really is bringing in the operating system you expect,” said Gates, “instead of just a funny piece of software that puts up a screen that looks like a log-in screen, and then it listens to your password and then it’s able to do that.”
He also says they did discuss the option of having a dedicated single button that would avoid the need to play Twister with your fingers, but that IBM keyboard designers didn’t want to go that route.
“It was a mistake,” confessed Gates about the decision to go with the convoluted key combination.
Now if someone from Microsoft would finally just say the same thing about the company’s obsession with making a Windows phone.