I had to buy a new computer last week. The problem isn't the new machine: I've had a dozen since 1983 and can cope with anything the world of hardware can throw at me, even though I can't wire a plug.
The problem is Vista, the new operating program that Microsoft has inflicted on PC users.
It must be the very worst commercial product ever made, bar none.
It was introduced solely to make money for Microsoft, and adds absolutely nothing to the computing experience.
Au contraire, it takes away much of what made computing possible.
Vista is fabulously bad, stunningly unfriendly, and, worst of all, contains built-in punishment for those who dare to use non-Microsoft products.
I've never used Outlook or an e-mail address book, because they are not secure. In sending 30,000 e-mails (and receiving 70,000) since the mid-1990s, I have clicked "reply" or added a new address, as necessary.
I use Mozilla Thunderbird. It's a wonderful program, and free, but I could not advise you to use it, because Vista is specifically programmed to deny the importation of old e-mails.
All 100,000 of mine are permanently lost--except that my old computer works fine and I can read them from there. Travelling with two bulky laptops is out, so when I'm away, I'll go without.
Also lost: 14 years of accounting records on Peachtree, because, again, Vista won't let me use a non-Microsoft program. I might be rich one day, but now I'll never know.
A RETURN TO XP?
I could uninstall Vista and go back to XP, but that was an inefficient dog's breakfast all its own. Hey, it's just data. Why should Microsoft care?
The European Union and the U.S. justice system have tried to bring decency to the world's most immoral corporation and both have failed.
Loss of data is not the least of my problems, however. Microsoft has decided that all today's computer user wants is to send text messages and then delete them. Everything else is a massive chore on Vista.
Ballmer's goons say they will replace Vista 18 months from now. Gotta make a profit; screw the customer.
They'll be years late, as always, but I'm not going through this again. I will retire the day Vista's replacement is announced and finish up any existing responsibilities on Vista, migraines and all.
If I were you, I'd get out of insurance the day your company announces it's upgrading to Vista or, if it's already too late, to its successor.
Bill Gates's real achievement has not been to put a computer on every desk. It has been to limit human possibility. His company's hegemony, tightened with every update, corners the intellect and makes innovation all but impossible.
Mac has fought a good struggle, but at this stage of my career, it would be like buying a foreign car in the United States: expensive and ultimately hopeless. (If Mac is working for you, good luck.)
I've never wanted to do anything but write. Now I dread writing another word.
ROGER CROMBIE is a Bermuda-based columnist for Risk & Insurance®.
September 15, 2008
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