Understanding IBM

Part 15. Quarantine

Unlike today's politically-correct environment, which places the avoidance of offending individuals ahead of the needs of the community as a whole, there once was a time in which quarantine was used to prevent or reduce the spread of disease. If a doctor found that a person had a contagious disease, he could declare that person's house and belongings to be under a condition of quarantine, meaning that everybody in that household was required to stay isolated from the surrounding neighborhood. Nobody was to visit this person until the disease had run its course. This was somewhat similar to house arrest, because the sick person was not supposed to leave his dwelling. This policy was quite effective in reducing the spread of illness.

Nowadays, of course, the idea that a person would voluntarily restrict his or her freedom of movement or freedom of association is considered old-fashioned and narrow-minded. Individual freedom has been placed on a pedestal. However, the principle of quarantine has also been violated in business; IBM has failed to keep Microsoft products limited to their original desktop points of origin. In fact, the good doctor now appears to be spreading the disease himself!

When Microsoft battled to take over the desktop computer software business, the only company that had the resources to combat them was IBM. No other company had a viable alternative desktop operating system that ran a variety of applications, had a pleasing GUI interface, and had enough marketing funds to put up a fight. The real problem was that IBM did not have an up-to-date, native desktop application suite such as Corel's Wordperfect or Lotus's Smartsuite available for the fight. Microsoft was able thus to take over the lion's share of computer desktops, even though its underlying operating system foundation is shoddy and unreliable; in fact, it is technologically sick. IBM made the mistake of attempting merely to quarantine Microsoft to the desktop, not to apply strong medicine and put the disease out of commission. Microsoft thus took over the desktop "neighborhood," and planned to target its next demographic "host".

So the good doctors at IBM, having ceded the desktop to the Microsoft plague, did not arrive with a timely medicine to cure the desktop. Now the Windows plague has mutated to the NT variety, and has broken quarantine: Microsoft is going after PC servers as well. How has the doctor responded? In this case, IBM has been found to be contaminated itself! IBM is now promoting NT servers, hoping to spread the disease to another, wider field of quarantine. By spreading this new disease themselves, IBM believes it can carefully control its spread and ensure that it will not break out of its new, larger area of quarantine. This is a dangerous philosophy of medicine, for it risks permanent damage to the doctor as well as the patient. If a cure is not applied soon, the doctor may end up getting sued for malpractice.

Most recent revision: February 21, 1998
Copyright © 1998, Tom Nadeau
All Rights Reserved.

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