Understanding Microsoft

Part 58. Bureaucracy

One of the biggest problems with the old Soviet system, as well as Western labor unions and large corporations, has been the curse of bureaucracy. Every time somebody had a great idea, the system had layers of red tape, bosses of bosses, bookshelves full of routines and procedures to follow, and "gateway" people who could stop a threatening or unfamiliar idea cold. This is in fact one reason why small business tends to produce large numbers of innovations per capita compared to large business, and why people typically want less government. It's just become too frustrating to have the overhead factor of a bureaucracy preventing great things from being accomplished.

However, the world of software has an equivalent set of bureaucratic rules being set in place by Microsoft. In the way it slows down performance, selectively excludes many great programs and innovations, and has "gateway" software code to exclude certain alternatives, Windows is like a layer of bureaucracy between you and your PC. The computer user stuck with Windows must learn to do things the Windows way, not their own individual way. The user must follow the reams of procedural requirements built-in to the software codes. Meanwhile, software developers must deal with the bureaucratic nightmare of the disorderly, complicated APIs that Microsoft provides in order to write their programs. In addition, Microsoft's carefully-crafted legal documents control minute details of the marketing, the labeling, and the assembly of computers by companies that decide to submit to Microsoft preloads.

It's as if there was a growing layer of fat choking the arteries of the PC world, causing unnecessary increases in demand for faster and faster hardware to overcome the bureaucratic bloat of the software codes. Meanwhile, apparatchiks in Redmond keep skimming off a huge percentage of the PC makers' profits -- just like some kind of Orwellian bureaucratic state would do. Then Microsoft can trim a tiny portion of the useless lard and brag about its "innovative improvements" and "increased efficiency," just like some Washington bureaucrat bragging about firing an office boy. And just like the bid-rigging cronyism of the politician on the take, Microsoft's software codes know just which applications get the green light to proceed smoothly -- the Microsoft-approved programs, of course.

Like dealing with some corrupt government, there are only two ways out of the mess: hope for a revolutionary overthrow of the reigning Microsoft regime, or set up your own government-in-exile through the use of superior alternatives, such as OS/2 and Unix. Waiting for the bureaucracy of Windowism to reform itself is like waiting for a slim, trim federal budget: it's just not going to happen.

Most recent revision: July 10, 1998
Copyright © 1998, Tom Nadeau
All Rights Reserved.

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