A Brief Review of Microsoft and the Horror They Bring Upon Us All

Note: This is one of two entries this weekend. The first was a perfectly harmless review of Cellular, which I hope you read. It’s below. In its second version because of what happened in this first piece.*sigh. Well, now there’s more of me to go around.

I realize that I am not the first to comment on the Evil Empire of the North. I am not even the 4000th. I am likely also not the first to make another erroneous decision to stay on the Windows platform when faced with a choice of new computers. A couple years ago, Apple aimed a whole ad campaign at people like me, intent on winning over the sunk-cost Windows crowd. I feel like a Nader supporter in Florida: I just didn’t think this through properly.

I have one reason for my stupidity and recalcitrance in not having gotten that Apple: I have an outstanding boyfriend with a Windows server who provides patient and (unfortunately for him) frequent tech support, Windows only. Of course, I ignored the oft-made point that Apple doesn’t require that kind of support. Which brings us to the second reason I didn’t think of before. I am a baroque, macro-using New Yorker who wants what she wants now and cannot fathom a system-shift with so many shortcuts to set up. Frankly, it would make me feel inadequate and we all know that if mama ain’t happy ain’t nobody happy. So really, I did it for you.

Of course, today, I feel worse than inadequate. I feel that violated, object-less fury you get when you know that your righteous anger will make not even a scrap of difference in the situation or have even the slightest effect on the offender. The schoolyard bully has moved into my home. Hell, he’s moved into my office and there isn’t enough room in here for the both of us, so someone had to go. Last night it was me.

Here’s the backstory. I got a brand, spanking new IBM in June (see above for irrational justification). It was a package deal: new computer = Windows XP. So far, “XP” seems to be some sort of numeral/acronym meaning “We have round cornered pop-ups now.” That’s really the only perceptible difference. Until last night. MS (short for “Microsoft”, or, aptly, “Multiple Sclerosis”) prompts users to update their operating systems often because they have no conscience and keep releasing shoddy code. (They don’t tell you that, but I can read between the lines.)

At the end of the update, the window asks if I’d like to reboot now or later. Invariably, as I am generally doing what people do on computers, namely WORK, I say “later” and go on with my day. This system has always worked for me and Windows 2000. We understood my “later” to actually mean “later” and we all trusted that I would eventually reboot and that working on a newly and possibly incompletely updated system was not in my best interest but was, at the end of the day, my friggin’ stupid choice. Good riddance and done deal.

XP, however, has a new “feature”: a window pops up every 20 minutes asking me again and again if I’d like to reboot. This is, needless to say, an annoyance and only makes me more belligerent in my refusals.

“Bastards!” I say. “Get off my screen and return from whence you came!” (I assume the “whence” is someplace punishing and unpleasant.)

It turns out however that Windows is one step ahead of me now, having set up a fully functional base in the Ninth Circle of Hell. Once I’ve refused their request to intrude on my day several times, they start getting pushy. It’s like MS thinks that because they made the op sys, it’s really their computer that they’re just letting me use. A window comes up:

“Pshaw, silly user: we’re just going to go ahead and reboot now because we know what’s best for you. How you like them apples, be-atch?”

or words to that effect. Unfortunately, when they posed this rhetorical question, I was away from my computer, having left open several Word documents on which I was working and which I had not yet named or saved because I was writing furiously and then on my way out the door (to a mediocre night, just to heighten my misery). Why would I worry about this? Never before has my computer shut itself down spontaneously in my absence without my permission. I understand that my audience will be chortling,

“Oh that wacky Emma! What a rookie mistake!”

But here’s my point: aside from my bad habits, what #$(*#&$ computer program closes down the entire system without permission and ignores all program warnings that data has not been saved? You know which ones? VIRUSES, that’s which ones. Except you can generally recover data from a virus strike, given enough time. Even in a blue-screen system crash, Word will offer temp file auto saves of your open docs. In my case, that means the version from two minutes ago.

Not XP and that jolly crew up in Redmond: they run my world now, so they’re fine with agreeing amongst themselves not to save the temps and shutting me down. It’s their own little masterful virus: you can’t uninstall it, you can’t clean it, you can’t live on the faith that some Norwegian virus-tracker guy whose main personal relationship is with a tiny painted figurine is going to eventually get ’em with his rapier-like code and triumph for us all. All you get is another window,

“Now isn’t that better? For your added convenience we had a look at some of your other saved documents and went ahead and deleted a bunch of stuff out of them too. Plus, we messed with Quicken, just to give you an added sumpin’ sumpin’ to look forward to. You can thank us later. Cheerio!”

For all of you whom I promised to call this weekend, I apologize: I’m busy re-constructing the last week of my life.

Tags:

Categories: My Day, News, Nuisance, Miscellany, Work and Writing

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