Understanding Microsoft

Part 75. The Treadmill

Watching a hamster running like mad on a little treadmill often leads to a few good chuckles. But there's nothing funny when it's *people* who are made to live that way. The hamster is getting exercise, of course, and that's a good thing. Sitting cooped up in a little cage with nowhere to go and nothing to do, it would be a sad thing not to have any exercise equipment. But for people to be enslaved to a treadmill -- a condition of running in place at full speed without making progress -- that is a crime, not a case of necessary exercise.

For example, Microsoft sold Windows95 for three years and then began offering Windows98. Because of the MS preload monopoly, people began seeing Windows98 available and Windows95 discontinued. As a result, they thought that Windows98 was somehow newer or better. In reality, the treadmill was spinning, and the customers who had to upgrade their hardware to run Windows98 were not getting a new, improved product. They had spun their wheels, spent their money, wasted their time, and they were in the same place where they had started. In return for spinning the little exercise wheel called "The Economy," Microsoft was rewarded with another influx of cash.

Then at the corporate level, executives were told for two years that WindowsNT 4.0 was the best way to go. They were hoodwinked into buying all new computers, all new software, and also paying for training classes, maintenance, networking, and all the other add-ons and overhead expenses that Windows products generate. Now these executives are quietly being told that WindowsNT is not ready for the year 2000, and that only Windows2000 can solve their problems. Even if it does (which is very doubtful), this round of "upgrades" will involve yet another wasteful expenditure of capital for newer and faster computers, new software, more training, more maintenance, more consultants, and another round of frustrating, expensive headaches. All of this they are encouraged to do -- not to make any real progress -- merely to stay in the same place!!!

Is it any wonder that white-collar workers now spend 49 hours per week at the office, instead of 41 hours as in 1990? Is it any wonder that net corporate debt has doubled over the last seven years? The little treadmill is spinning madly along, generating heat and smoke and wearing out the millions of hamster-like customers of Microsoft products.

Most recent revision: July 17, 1999
Copyright © 1999, Tom Nadeau
All Rights Reserved.

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