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Week of April 20, 2004
Goddamn the pusher man.
- Hoyt Axton
Bill Gates is a pusher man. He's a software pusher, but his mentality is every bit that of the drug pusher, and probably deliberately so: he's found a way to inflict software on people in the same way the drug pusher moves drugs.
In an editorial entitled 'Microsoft's Security Dilemma' and published on 12 April, an anonymous writer at eWEEK waxes critical of Microsoft.
The article begins:
Software vendors, like Presidential Candidates, should be held accountable for taking consistent positions and following through on them.
The author cites Microsoft as a prime example of a company where promises are just so many empty words that inevitably fall by the wayside.
The article cites a memo by Bill Gates released on 31 March, aptly re-dated by cynics a day later, in which security is yet again given a very high priority. But as the article reminds us:
In the past, something else - usually 'cool' features - has almost always sidetracked Microsoft's security initiatives.
eWEEK were evidently in attendance at the much-touted Gartner 'ITxpo' where the co-founder of Traf-O-Data spoke lyrically of a new version of Visual Studio which will rely heavily on 'modeling' and reduce the need to write actual programming code to less than the bare minimum.
Upon hearing that statement, many experienced developers probably cringed.
BASIC and 'modeling' suit Bill Gates well, as they are the only technologies this supposed 'programmer' has a sporting chance to grasp. They also happen to be 'technologies' which the non-professional can grasp - an important cornerstone in the Bill Gates way of doing business.
eWEEK moves on:
There seem to be two competing visions at the company - one in which security is paramount and will drive all product decisions and another in which top priority goes to features that make it easy for anyone to build applications. In the past, company officials have often said the right things about quality and security, only to give in to the lure of nifty features that add pizazz to demos and keynote speeches.
And they add:
This tendency has led to ill-advised moves, such as scripting in e-mail, ActiveX controls, and systems with default configurations that have every feature turned on whether someone uses them or even wants them.
To which the world at large might be seen to nod in agreement.
If Bill Gates were an auto manufacturer, he would have found a way to give people the opportunity to drive out onto highly trafficked highways without having to go through the trouble of obtaining proper drivers licences or learning how to properly navigate such dangerous vehicles. If Bill Gates were in the auto business, he'd have every garage equipped with auto mechanics that didn't know which end of the screwdriver went where.
Bill Gates was once heard to comment on software piracy in China: 'Yes, they're stealing software, and as long as they're going to steal, we want them to steal OUR software - then, in a few years, when they've become dependent on it, we'll figure out a way to make them pay.
- David Cutler was unaware when first coming to Redmond that Bill Gates wanted a 'zero administration' graphical user interface on the 'Prism' server.
- Around the world Microsoft's lackeys offer 'Microsoft Certification Programmes' where the applicant, regardless of background and abilities, is guaranteed to pass the exam.
In a very real sense Bill Gates is a purveyor of contraband.
He sells products that are unsafe, relying on customer ignorance to make the sale, and adds on dangerous feature after dangerous feature to increase the 'showroom flash', targeting people who don't have the ability or the right to use these products in the first place.
He sells diplomas to people hopelessly unqualified. He puts people on the net who have no business being there and no way to cope, and pulls out all the stops - and puts in all the lock-ins - to make his software as addictive as possible.
And he fights like a merciless drug lord when anyone encroaches on his territory, and he deals with law enforcement as merely 'the cost of doing business'.
Goddamn the pusher man.