Bill Gates regrets Control-Alt-Delete

Mae Love
September 21, 2017

Rubenstein added why did Gates think that was just a good idea. "But, sure, If I could make one small edit I would make that a single key operation", he is quoted as saying by Quartz. Back in 2013 he admitted it was a bad design decision, highlighting that IBM's inflexibility was to blame. "The IBM PC hardware keyboard only had one way that it could get a guaranteed interrupt generated", he said in response to a question about the peculiar process. So, clearly the people involved, they should have put another key on it to make that work.

He went on to observe that "A lot of machines nowadays do have that as a more obvious function". The operating systems from Microsoft (but also others) may be unstable, most Windows users have already had to press frantically these three keys, and most often several times... That "guy" was David Bradley, the engineer credited with inventing the combination originally created to reboot the PC.

On a panel in 2011 with Gates, Bradley said, "I have to share the credit".

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Bill Gates is sorry that he made it so annoying to log in to your computer.

For all the second-thoughts about it, control-alt-delete has stuck around: It's still in current versions of Windows 10, now used primarily to access the task manager or to switch logged-in users quickly.

As Ars Technica noted at the time, the function was initially a BIOS feature, but Microsoft made it software feature in Windows 3.0's Enhanced Mode. The function would have been a government-required Secure Attention Key that would prevent malware from spoofing a login.

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