In Jobs' first months back at Apple in 1997, the company was at a low ebb. Apple was struggling to maintain a consistent profitability, and in July 1997 its shares reached a 10-year low. Oracle's Larry Ellison had considered buying the company.
Then an unexpected helping hand reached out: Microsoft. In August 1997, while Apple was mulling its options to replace Amelio as CEO, Bill Gates announced that his company would invest $150 million in Apple and would develop versions of its Microsoft Office software suite, Internet Explorer browser, and other software for the Macintosh. The two long-time antagonists also said they would work to settle a dispute over whether Microsoft's Windows operating system infringed on any Apple patents.
And thus came Jobs' second appearance on the cover of Time magazine, which wrote of his comeback under the headline "Steve's Job: Restart Apple".
"Understand," wrote Time, "the idea of Jobs returning to Apple is something akin to that of Luke Skywalker returning to fight what, until last week, cultists regarded as the evil empire. Gates, by comparison, was perceived as a dweeb Darth Vader, the billionaire bad guy who usurped the idea of the Macintosh's friendly point-and-click operating system for his now dominant Microsoft Windows."
And why did Jobs go back? "I wouldn't be honest if some days I didn't question whether I made the right decision in getting involved," Jobs told Time. "But I believe life is an intelligent thing--that things aren't random."