11 December 2006

Hasta La Vista, Baby...

Some key ways in which a Microsoft product is like a Significant Other:
  • It's unfortunately necessary: there are too many things fun and functional you just can't do without it.

  • In fact, you're probably stuck with it a priori; you're just expected to have it. People will wonder why you don't.

  • On first encounter, it takes forever to get ready, telling you all the while, "Please be patient." As it prepares itself, it's in contact with its support team and exchanging all kinds of information about you, but you shrug it off because it looks good--- and, frankly, you're excited because it promises that you'll be able to do stuff with it that other products wouldn't let you do.

  • At first, everything seems cool. At first. Keep in mind that what you like about it at first will become what you hate most about it later.

  • Once it's in your life, it takes right over and starts telling you what to do. But you let it, for the reasons stated above.

  • It has an almost unnatural fondness for cookies, which you casually dismiss as one its little eccentricities.

  • It messes with your library first, promising to "organize" it. You learn quickly, however, that what's Yours is Its--- and what's Its is Its. This is okay, you tell yourself, until it takes you two hours to find something you used to be able to find in a minute.

  • No matter what it suggests, it is NOT as limber as it proclaims to be. "User-friendly," you'll discover, applies to other people using it, not you.

  • Once it is completely settled in, it insists on keeping track of everything you do. Then it goes off and does whatever the hell it wants to do and doesn't tell you a thing.

  • Before long, not only is it chewing up half of your resources, it's also becoming wildly unpredictable. Or, in fact, predictably unpredictable: you just sit there, waiting for something to go wrong, which invariably it does.

  • And when something does go wrong, it's your fault. There's also no arguing with it. Ever. So there. This, by the way, is that mysterious Sixth Law you heard about in high-school science class, but of which no one ever spoke directly. Now you know.

  • Of course, it never tells you what's wrong. (Occasionally it offers "details." These will provide no help whatsoever.) It will simply, and almost huffily, stop responding. Quite often, you'll just have to give up, shut everything down and consign yourself to the interminable process of restarting. This will work for a while, but sooner or later, it won't--- and your product will insinuate that you are to blame for damaging or corrupting it. You may even have to bite the bullet and bring in another programme-- or worse, another person-- to help fix things.

  • Soon enough, you're changing everything for its sake. If something is incompatible with your Microsoft product, it has to go. Eventually, you'll realize it has its tentacles everywhere.

  • Two words: Usage Rights.

  • Even occasional engagement with your Microsoft product will soon involve you in its dubious suggestions about things you need and ergo Must Have. Perform a minor task, and you'll be directed, with no trace of subtlety, to places to go to buy stuff you really don't want. Your product wants other products--- and even if you won't buy them, it will keep showing you ads, hoping you'll just cave to its pressure. Sometimes you will. This will stop nothing.

  • Dare to flirt with a non-Microsoft product, especially those Open Source sluts that are just giving it away, and it'll feign compatibility with it until it can undermine those Other Products appropriately.

  • As a matter of course, you'll soon be spending most of your time maintaining and updating your Microsoft product, ripping your hair out as you do. Pretty soon, you'll tell your product to update itself behind your back just to avoid the incessant asking.

  • It'll turn out, your Microsoft product isn't half as stable as it suggested, nay assured, it was. Each week will bring a fresh array of insecurities and contradictions with which you'll have to deal like Alan Alda in a triage scene.

  • But when you attempt to address those insecurities, your Microsoft product won't simply ask for validation. It will demand it. Constantly. And you will oblige it, because you have to.

  • Eventually, it'll stop recognizing your equipment, and all those "plug-and-play" promises will become bitter memories of why you got yourself into this mess in the first place.

  • After a while, you'll realize your product has become bloated, sluggish and downright impossible. Your misery with your Microsoft product will tempt you a million times to leave it, but you won't because it'll prove too much a central part of your existence. You depend on it. Besides, if you try to get rid of it, it'll probably take half your stuff with it. So, you mutter expletives under your breath when you deal with it, and you entertain fantasies of the day you'll finally rid yourself of it, even if you never do.

  • Never do, that is, until a new Microsoft product presents itself, and you go through the maddening process of deciding whether or not to ditch your miserable old product for the new one. All that updating behind your back by your old product will force the issue, as it all but shuts itself down in preparation for its replacement. (And, yes, probably takes half your stuff.)

  • Before you know it, you'll have to make the leap to the new Microsoft product: there are too many things fun and functional you just won't be able to do without it. In fact, you'll just be expected to have it. People will wonder about you if you don't....

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