Understanding Microsoft

Part 35. History Prepackaged

One of the most hideous examples of hypocrisy and deception is the practice of historical revisionism. Rather than humbly admitting their errors and faults, some people and some institutions feel it is necessary to rewrite history to hide the truth. The facts of "real" history may be too shameful and embarrassing, so a "fake" history is substituted in its place, a set of deceptions, lies, and half-truths that are often surprisingly successful at hoodwinking later generations of people.

For example, part of the history of ancient Egypt, particularly a 200-year period immediately preceding the Jewish exodus from that land, was effaced from the official Egyptian records. Something very embarrassing had to be covered up somehow, and the priestly recordkeepers effectively did that. What could have been a powerful piece of evidence to confirm the Biblical version of history was instead wiped out and therefore disappeared from view. The only thing that could not be covered up was the need to cover something up!!

But even more clever is a careful process of re-engineering product names and product positioning to gain control of historical recordkeeping *before* it occurs. Microsoft has become adept at repackaging itself and its products so that the priestly recordkeepers of this society, the media, are keeping a record that is pre-slanted in behalf of the Microsoft worldview. For example, look at Microsoft's selection of the name Explorer for its Internet browser software. Microsoft knows that due to its monopoly leverage and the browser bundling controversy, future generations will likely be fooled into believing that Microsoft was the first company to bundle an Internet browser with a PC desktop operating system. But that is not true. IBM bundled an Internet browser called Web Explorer in its 1994 release of OS/2 Warp version 3, a powerful desktop operating system that has sold over 15 million copies worldwide. Thus the "real" history is that IBM first brought the Internet to the public in the form of a product called Explorer. But by purposely choosing the name Explorer for its own product, Microsoft hopes that history will wipe away the truth of its own lateness to see the Internet as the wave of the future.

In addition to hiding the successes and innovations of others, Microsoft also plays this game to hide its own failures and flops. Microsoft BOB, a failed user interface shell for Windows, has thus been recycled. The software has wormed its way into other Microsoft products such as Microsoft Office in the form of childish cartoon figures and other mindless distractions. Meanwhile the product name has been recycled in the form of the "Bob and Weave" set of multimedia tools. In this way Microsoft prepackages history so that its failures will be hidden behind later accomplishments. Microsoft thus looks not just at today's market, but at how it will be perceived 50 or 100 years into the future. Microsoft also tells reporters what to save for future compendiums and reviews; already the word is out to reserve a place for the 1995 rollout of Windows95 in the coming series of "Decade in Review" articles. By expertly prepackaging history before it is written, Microsoft continues its masterful manipulation of the media.

Most recent revision: February 18, 1998
Copyright © 1998, Tom Nadeau
All Rights Reserved.

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