16 October 2000
Roberto F. Salomon is a Brazilian OS/2 consultant
currently working with Golden Code Development
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OK, I know most of you will be reading
this and saying "but that's obvious! Why would someone waste his time writing,
or even reading about something everybody already knows?" Well, the truth is
I know this is obvious but I just have to write about it since no one else seems
to see the obvious or even care about it.
Would any of you reading this buy
anything: be it a TV set, a car, a bicycle, a stereo system, knowing that it would
break down suddenly with no previous warning and that there was nothing you could
do about it? Even worse, it would break down periodically and even though you would
have to change several parts every once in a while you and, as a matter of fact,
everyone, would mysteriously consider this normal and acceptable?
We wouldn't even dream of buying
something like that if it were a car, a TV set, a refrigerator or even a stereo
system. But when it comes to Windows, everything changes.
Normally I consider the Windows community
as a curiosity. I don't see OS/2, Mac or Linux users complaining about the "need"
for periodical reinstalls of their systems as well as of the several hours of work
lost due to "blue screens of death", "I Love You" e-mail messages
or simply to some unexplained or unexpected application error. Only recently, after
having read two articles in a very respectable newspaper I decided to write this.
The first article described how to
restore the computer's original speed and performance by reformatting the hard drive
and reinstalling all your software and data (Yes, the author did make all the recommendations
regarding backups of the data and making sure that all installation disks were at
hand). The second article, after describing all the joys of the new operating system
(ahem) advised the potential "Windows ME" users to wait until the first
service pack was made available or even better, or worse depending on your opinion
about it, to wait until "Whistler" comes around in a year or two.
We now consider it normal for Microsoft
software to be large, unsafe, unstable and full of bugs. New security holes in Microsoft
software are discovered almost every month. Windows ME's major marketing punch seems
to be something like: "It crashes less than Windows 98". Even so, it is
being bought and systems are being reinstalled from scratch. What is wrong with
The people who flock to the shops
to buy every new Microsoft release are the same that will complain and make phone
threats every time their favorite channel is not available at the time they want
on their cable. We are talking about the same people that will stop buying brand
"A" or "B" of a previously respectable electronic equipment
manufacturer because of unfavorable consumer reports. These same people now consider
it normal to have a computer "crash" on your face at least once a day.
My guess, and that is all I can give
you, is that these people use the "crashing feature" of Windows as a form
of self-protection. For most people, computers are almost magical boxes. A smart
typewriter that will actually talk back to you, unfortunately most of the time scolding
you for your spelling mistakes. Most people are intimidated by computers and having
one crash periodically just reassures them that, even though their work was lost,
it will be a long time before any machine replaces them at work.
It is also possible that these people
have different attitudes toward software because they believe there is only one
operating system. That is not a difficult thought to have when you don't know the
options and Microsoft controls over 95 per cent of the market. These people simply
don't know they have a choice. What is worse, they don't seem to care.