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Mad about Microsoft?

ACCORDING TO LIZ - Microsoft is not “micro” nor is it “soft.” It is a monopoly profiting off of, and unyielding in its disregard of the needs of the common people. 

Bill Gates may have been a visionary in his younger years but the company that Bill built has become the Big Brother of the tech age. 

Progressively the company’s focus has shifted to profit rather than innovation, and on turning its key services into smart phone-compatible apps. 

I have no trouble with Microsoft making money. 

If Bill and his investors had not perceived a pot of gold at the end of their rainbow, the world we live in today would be very, very different. 

And I have no problem with making programs compatible across different platforms but instead of making Office-Lite for phone users, they’ve now ditched computers for working adults to wallow in phone apps for 37-year-olds going on 14. 

What started in Windows 10 as a fluid updating rather than periodic patches to fix problems has become an end in itself. And that approach has the objectionable side effect of making less popular programs and hardware obsolete overnight. 

All of which can be solved by purchasing a new – ta-dah! – Microsoft product. 

The Microsoft equivalent of the Samsung ATIV I used for years until Windows stopped supporting its operating system is the Microsoft Surface which is three times as expensive even without the programs and peripherals that came with my ATIV. 

Not to mention that the screen cracked after a couple of months (Microsoft will fix it but it doesn’t come cheap or with a warranty) and the power cable is so poorly designed that I had to replace the first after just a year and the second already has a kink in the same place that the original one broke. 

And, after selling me the Surface as a full Windows computer, Microsoft then treats it like a tablet or cell phone with programs not having their full capabilities which means I have to transfer some material back to the desktop to finalize. 

Of course, every company wants money and power, and the most efficient way to get there is to reinforce the ascendency of the educated and the wealthy, and leave those without disposable income forever in the dust. 

Which means Microsoft is operating hand-in-hand with Amazon and Walmart to take advantage of the working class while focusing on satisfying their deep-pocket customers, the technocratic elite. 

As founder of the Gates Foundation, one would have hoped that Bill would have insisted that Microsoft cater to all Americans, to everyone worldwide, delivering the tools to lift all people out of poverty, encouraging the hoi polloi to join the oligarchs in a more egalitarian society. 

Windows 11 is not innovative, it’s just annoying. 

Yes, it is probably easier for folks on the go to operate smoothly between their phone and their desktop at work. But what about people without smart phones? Or those trying to avoid apps that make them more vulnerable to identity theft? Or who can’t afford the plans, or who live in areas without service? 

Yes, Virginia, there are still places where cell service is spotty, something that has led to a number of deaths in recent years when people fully believing that arming themselves with a smart phone would be suitable protection from avalanches, rock climbing falls, bear attacks and getting lost. 

So why get rid of what’s working for most people in the first place? 

Why place icons in different positions? 

People who really do WORK on computers, work fast and it’s extremely annoying to have to learn new systems every couple of years just so the young programming Turks at Microsoft and Google and their co-conspirators can justify their jobs. 

What’s even more annoying is the patronizing quality of its auto-correct functions, ones that end up slowing down my work, “correcting” my e-mails to say the opposite of what I intended, fixing my spelling to words that are not what I wrote. 

And no, I am not a Luddite. This is about respect and efficiency. This is about opposing the throwaway ethic even in a digital environment. 

Real Luddites reject technology and change completely; I believe that technology should be a tool that works FOR me, and that I should not have to do things differently, do it their way since Microsoft says so. 

Just because their well-honed practice of buying out or forcing competitors out of the market by making updates incompatible has made Microsoft a monopoly with the power to tell people what to do and how to do it, doesn’t make it acceptable. 

I categorically reject this. Microsoft’s approach is akin to requiring all left-handed people use right-handed scissors because folks in management who don’t use scissors at all don’t understand the difference. 

Our consumer protection angels (I hope) in D.C. whose salaries are paid by our taxes must mandate Microsoft provide a basic package along the lines of basic banking to protect ordinary people. 

By law, Microsoft should be compelled to provide a basic operating system along with a basic Office suite with Outlook, Word, Excel and Power Point. 

An operating system that doesn’t insist on installing an update for 20 minutes that’s a fix for the 10-minute update from the previous day when you need to get online. Right now. 

An office suite that does NOT monkey up writing with bells and whistles any half-way literate person finds infuriating. 

Not to mention that the people such a system targets probably couldn’t evaluate whether what their computer is rewriting for them is correct or not. Talk about the nanny corporatocracy! 

Alternatively, Microsoft could be a model citizen and provide a pre-Windows 10 environment for basic services including a solid e-mail client to replace the one that went bye-bye with Office 2010. 

Surely that’s a possibility. 

Resuscitating Windows XP which was far and away the apogee of Microsoft’s operating systems (in my Luddite-infused estimation), and then maintaining it as a separate stand-alone environment, allowing people to work comfortably, where what they write stays as written, and where constant updates don’t interrupt or destroy work, hindering people from doing their jobs, making older programs unworkable, and costing everyone but Microsoft time and money. 

If they are providing a service it should meet the needs and desires of their customers, not those of their techie team. 

Microsoft must get out of the business of patting itself on the back for creating their own monopoly, constantly pushing Microsoft fixes for Microsoft programming problems, constantly marketing other Microsoft goods and services to a captive audience. 

Save the bells and whistles for the cutting-edge technophiles and smart phone-aholics. 

But don’t force me to live in a Windows-Lite world because smart phone dilettantes can’t play with the big boys and girls.

 

(Liz Amsden is a regular contributor to CityWatch and an activist from Northeast Los Angeles with opinions on much of what goes on in our lives. She has written extensively on the City's budget and services as well as her many other interests and passions. In her real life she works on budgets for film and television where fiction can rarely be as strange as the truth of living in today's world.)