To: Bill Gates
From: A consumer
I am not going to buy a computer with nor upgrade my current operating
system to Windows XP and I thought you should know why because I consider
myself a typical computer user and if I'm feeling this way, I'm sure others
are as well.
The main reason that I won't buy your new wonder system is this: because of
all your other wonder systems, all of which promised to be better than the
one before but in fact only succeeded in proving to be more frustrating for
users like me with limited technical ability.
I started with Windows 95. That was supposed to be the be-all and end-all
operating system for home computer users. And while it was a revolutionary
product and a boon to all mankind, I'm sorry, it drove me nuts with all its
freezes and glitches and user-nastiness (which is the opposite of
user-friendliness). Plus, it panicked me to death with its blue screens of
death and its frightening "fatal error" messages. Fatal? My god, Bill, I was
just trying to open up a file! I'm sorry, OK?
Then I upgraded to Windows 98, which was supposed to be more reliable and
user-friendly. It wasn't. It was buggy and unstable and crashed all the time
until the later patches came out, by which time I was so irritated it didn't
matter. In addition, this version of Windows came with the paperclip. You
know the paperclip -- the obnoxious, big-eyed, know-nothing paperclip that
plagued my screen whenever I tried use Microsoft Word. I hate the paperclip,
Bill. Everybody hates the paperclip. If it were a real paperclip, I'd bend
it and twist it until it pleaded for mercy, which, incidentally, I would not
Anyway, just as I was getting used to the hiccups, glitches and obnoxious
tendencies of Windows 98, you stuffed all new computers with Windows
Millenium edition, including the one I purchased last Christmas.
I've had this computer for less than a year. Know how many days of carefree
use I've had with it? None. It crashes and locks up and refuses to shut down
properly every day, in every way. The company that made my computer assures
me it's not my computer. It's the operating system. Windows Me - read any
user board, any magazine - is a hideously slow and buggy system that refuses
to cooperate with many peripherals and seems to work only when it feels like
it. That it was released at all is a crime.
Which, in a roundabout way, is my point today. Why should I continue to
"upgrade" my operating system every two years when the new system isn't much
better than the old system and, in fact, is often worse, only in creatively
Here's how I see operating systems: They should work. Period.
I know, call me crazy. But we'll have arrived at ultimate operating system
success when users like me simply use their systems, instead of trying to
figure out how to get them to work. It's a subtle difference. Think of it
this way: When I turn on the TV, I get TV shows. That's it. The TV always
turns on and it always turns off. It's reliable in a
I-don't-have-to-think-about-it way. That's how computers should be. When I
turn it on, it should come on. When I want to perform a function, I should
be able to perform a function. Period.
Now, you can argue that computers are far more complex than TV, and that's
true. But that doesn't relieve Microsoft of its obligation to strive for
simplicity and reliability. The computer industry is the only industry that
I can think of that gets away with selling products that aren't utterly
For instance, when I buy a sofa, I expect that it will fulfill its function
every single time I choose to use it. And it does. I do not have to check to
see if all the cushions are still there each time I want to sit. I don't
have to wonder whether all four legs will be not only present but function
properly. I don't have to guess whether it will be soft and comfy. These
things are assumed.
With computers, you cannot assume. (If you do, you risk - in true "Bad News
Bears" fashion - making an ass out of u and me. Get it?) (Oh never mind.)
When it comes to the free pass we give the computer industry, I like to use
the car analogy. Would you buy a particular car if you knew that: A) It
might work, or it might not, or B) the manufacturer released the car knowing
full-well that it was not a complete and reliable product but figured, what
the heck, we'll fix it with "patches" released in increments over the next
few years? And if the consumer doesn't like it, well, tough.
No, you wouldn't. You'd demand that the product be reliable and complete up
front. And if it weren't and you owned one, you'd demand your money back and
vow never to touch another product manufactured by that company ever again.
So why shouldn't we hold you, Mr. Gates, and your company to a similar
You know the answer. We should but we don't. We play your game. We knuckle
under. We give you our cash.
Well, not me. Not this time. I won't be purchasing Microsoft XP. I won't, I
OK, sure, Windows Me, which I currently use, is the single worst product
ever produced by human beings. And sure XP is supposed to be, at long last,
a reliable, durable operating system that even computer-losers like me can
get to work. And sure it's supposed to have all sorts of cool upgrades for
multi-media and all sorts of neat ...
Oh, hell, I'm lying. Of course I'll upgrade. I'm a computer user. I'm
hooked. And I desperately want to get rid of Millenium Edition.
I am yours once again, Bill Gates.
To: Bill Gates