Sunday, June 18, 2006

Gates gives it away

Comment-is-Free blogger Jeff Jarvis notices that Bill Gates resigns from day-to-day involvement in Microsoft, and asks "What is his legacy?" The best answer is given by commeter "xyzzy":

Gates' victory was in convincing people that computers are unreliable, and therefore failure is something to be accepted. That's now knocked on into other consumer durables, and audio equipment that needs to be rebooted once in a while, or need firmware updates in order to fix crucial bugs, is now a commonplace. The idea that a computer should work, flawlessly, unless and until the hardware fails, at which point the machine gracefully degrades, has been replaced by a knife-edge in which the man in the street risks the obliteration of his wedding photographs at any moment without the voodoo incantations of the elect.

I recently spent an hour resurrecting the PC of a neighbour [NTLDR and NTDETECT had gone walkies, geek fans]. Without skilled intervention, he would have been reduced to reinstallation and the loss of a lot of work. Gates' legacy is the sense of helplessness that intelligent man felt. It's a legacy we could do without.

And it's assholes to the rest of us, now that the unreliability of the software is now being matched by the unreliability of the hardware. (More grinding noises, again, which is why the Dell is "resting" under my desk as we speak.)

On the topic, I really, really, really can wait until my machine gracefully degrades; I'm content with Windows XP service pack 2, if not perfectly happy. I really do not want to face the burden of buying a new operating system in 2007 or 2008. Windows Vista sounds like utter bloatware, and the Macs these days are so shoddily built that they are staining after three weeks. And they overheat as well. I might be forced to Linux, despite its lack of user-friendiness; at least it's cheaper.