Early computer innovator Microsoft should take a look at its own history now and then, it’s lost its roots. It has become the lumbering dinosaur of the type it once nimbly maneuvered around. Just what were they thinking with Windows 8?
The fable goes that some longhaired smart kids wrote some code for a sheetmetal and circuitboard company for their newfangled box of blinking lights and when the accountants for the stamp-press and soldering firm saw that they could wangle out of paying a few shekels they owed the hippies by letting them have the rights to the zeros and ones they jumped at the chance. So the nuts and bolters kept their smoke belching industrial plants, union workforce and materials costs and overhead and the dancing dreamers scurried off with a few lines of code.
Everyone wanted the binaries, and it was hard to find. Not a lot of people knew how to line up 1’s and 0’s in those heady early days and so they were eager to pony up for the sets pre-made by the hipsters, after all, anyone could solder up a bank of blinking lights, that was easy. So Microsoft and is raggedy band had made a good first move, and they made some more, lining up those two digits until they had such good long strings of them that people were lining up to pay other numbers with lots of zeros behind them to put the strings on their own blinking boxes. It was inspired, the strings were named Xenix, DOS, and MS DOS and acronyms that didn’t mean a heck of a lot to anyone, but meant everything to the transistors and capacitors and resistors and lights. And they worked well, made them phosphors light up green and amber right on cue. All the wrinkles, glitches, gremlins and bugs were worked out and folks were happy, and the lean, agile youngsters began to gain weight.
They got even fatter and bigger as they constructed new OS’s, named Windows, making them burn the phosphors faster, better, cleaner right up to version 98 which was as slick as a sports car for its time. Then came Windows Millennium Edition. What was that? A ill fated attempt to have a run at their competitor Apple’s market share or a way to keep collecting the Windows tax. Millennium was about as unwieldy as a full medieval halberd in the hands of a toddler for users. Succinctly, it was reviled. So back to the drawing board and eventually XP. XP and all its revisions polished up nicely to the point where it shone like a fresh apple on teachers desk, get an ‘A’ for that. And then Vista, which offered a view as illumined as what one sees when one shoves ones face in the mud. Back to Windows for 7.
And now 8. Is it the Apple envy again, the ad campaign is snappy, it made me want it, all those happy, attractive productive people doing fun stuff and going places. Dumbbells, don’t they see that computer users just stare, but intently, and that they don’t want to have to figure anything out, they would all mortgage their significant others for a computer as simple as a toaster. Toaster we say, insert toast, push button, voila! Toast! Light up a screen with Windows 8 and let the befuddlement begin, or the user learning curve, which while not really all that steep, shouldn’t exist at all. Just sell me the dang toaster and let me be on my way with my baguette under my arm a bottle of wine and a lanky silhouette at my side.
So with the long passage of time Microsoft became a dinosaur, lumbering about clumsily, making the same mistakes, trampling the small weak and defenseless who happd underfoot, but truth be told it still functioned. Like a great clumsy beast it still made headway, moving ahead, clearing a path through the thicket that others could follow or diverge from easily. And it ain’t dead yet. Its problems are the same as the government, local, state or national, or any business that grows beyond one person: “The larger an organization becomes, the less efficient it is.”
We don’t hate the old hippies, they went the same route all the old hippies went. We just don’t want the old dinosaurs to just sit out on their porches yelling, “Get off my yard.” Instead of seeing them become dusty fossils we’d like to see them evolve, just as the dinos did, into myriad wild free flying flocks of vibrantly plumed birds. (Bill, gimme a call, I might have some ideas.)