0,3658,s=916?a=13554,00.asp
Windows for the Dead
Search    in           Advanced Search Ziff Davis Media
The Net Economy
Already a Member? Sign In Not a member? Join Now
Home My Account Sign In

Views

News

Industry Q&A

Markets

Networks

Revolutionaries

Services

Strategies

Free Subscription



April 15, 2002
  • Check out the
          current issue
  • Past Issues
  • Free Subscription
  • Subscriber Services





  • Newsletters
    Get The Net Economy’s
    FREE online newsletters!
    The Net Economy Update
    Network Services From Paul Coe Clark III
    Joe McGarvey�s Optical Networking Letter
    The Carol Wilson Report: The Business and Technology of Communications
    Preferred e-mail format:
    Enter your e-mail:

    Submit
    View All Newsletters




    New Views Section Header
    Paul Clark  
    August 29, 2001
    Windows for the Dead

    Critics have accused Microsoft of refusing, for years, to learn from politics, arguing that Redmond’s attitude of superiority left it wide open to antitrust attack. Well, Bill Gates has obviously learned his lesson. He’s apparently mobilized the graveyard vote in opposition to the government’s lawsuit against the company.

    ADVERTISEMENT

    For 200 years, broad-minded political operatives in charming municipalities like Chicago and Boston have shed the prejudice most people feel toward the involvement of dead people in the political process. Chicago mayor Richard Daley was famous for his liberal attitude toward graveyard voters, and why not? Life’s bad enough when you’re six feet under without being excluded from our political rituals.

    Now, Microsoft is showing the same concern for the well-being of the dead. The L.A. Times this week reported that Microsoft has organized a widespread, and well-camouflaged, letter-writing campaign in support of the company. Two of the letters, the paper reports, wound up on the desk of Mark Shurtleff, the attorney general of Utah, one of the states that joined the federal government in suing Microsoft, bearing the signatures of corpses. Dead people want Windows too!

    You’ve got to love Microsoft. Some companies try to make themselves lovable to generate customer support. Others pretend to be lovable, which shouldn’t fool anyone, but does (Don’t you just love those warm ‘n’ fuzzy Met Life ads with the “Peanuts” characters? Insurance is lovable! Really!). But Microsoft is so clueless about how to make itself lovable that the only way it can think of to so is to buy love. If that doesn’t work, forge it.

    The Times said Microsoft had gone to “great lengths” to disguise the fact that the pro-Redmond letter-writing campaign was, in fact, whipped up by Microsoft front groups. “Letters sent in the last month are printed on personalized stationery using different wording, color and typefaces–details that distinguish those efforts from common lobbying tactics that go on in politics every day,” the paper reported.

    I’ll say. Microsoft may be clueless, but you’ve got to admire that level of sneakiness. It’s brilliant, in a way. My home base, Washington, is on the receiving end of a deluge of citizen mail and e-mail, much of it, because it is mass generated by special-interest groups, promptly ignored by legislators. Most lobbying groups haven’t figured out that 800,000 form letters opposing H.B. 90210 count as one, in their senator’s mind. What better way to disguise lobbying than to use all that Microsoft typographical horsepower to make it look like a wave of independent protests against government perfidy?

    Noam Chomsky, that most lovable of political crackpots, continually refers to “manufacturing consent.” Well, Microsoft is apparently manufacturing dissent. It’s oddly appropriate, as Microsoft and Chomsky share a worldview based on mysterious conspiracies. Of course, is the world was as conspiracy-driven as Chomsky claims, he would have long ago been found dead under a parking lot in Langley, Va. — still clamoring, doubtless, for Windows XP. Likewise, Microsoft, seeing anti-Bill Gates conspiracies in every pot, must feel perfectly justified in waking the dead from their well-earned slumber to support making Internet Explorer a system-level function.

    Of course, in this, as in so many other things, we in the telecom industry were the true pioneers. Impressed by dead Windows users? Why, a full two years ago, the Federal Communications Commission flung a $2 million fine at Qwest Communications for slamming, among others, a man who had been dead for eight years and a dead dog. That’s right, a dead guy and an ex-dog named, of all things, Boris, apparently approved change orders for telephone service. The actual customer had listed the phone in the dog’s name for security reasons.

    That’s a class act. On the Internet, no one may know you’re a dog — but, face it, dogs don’t have opposable thumbs and have a hard time using pens. I always wondered how Qwest got that canine corpse to sign. I have a mental image of Phil Anschutz, in his massive chairman’s suite, stamping a stack of change orders with a dog paw-bone and an ink pad.

    If this were a Dave Barry column, I would be forced at this point to point out that “Boris and the Dead Dogs” is a great name for a rock band.

    So now we know that the dead love Windows. It makes a weird kind of sense — who better than the dead to appreciate an operating system that dies so frequently? I envision a whole new series of Windows slogans and error messages:

    “Where do you want to go today? Nowhere, because you’re dead!”

    “Your application just performed an illegal operation — but you don’t care, because you’re dead!”

    “Explorer.exe caused a page fault in module … heck, why am I telling you? You’re dead!”

    Some people criticized Qwest, and will doubtless criticize Microsoft, for making commercial use of the dead. I confess I can’t follow their reasoning. For too long, dead people, probably because they’re not photogenic, have been seen as political and advertising liabilities. Maybe Microsoft and Qwest are taking the first bold steps toward a world in which megacompanies can truly judge customers and political pawns on their potential usefulness, rather than the, after all rather technical, issue of whether or not they are still breathing.

    A recent Halloween episode of a television sitcom involved characters repeatedly asking each other whether or not they believed in vampires. “Of course,” came the invariable reply. “How else do you explain Yoko Ono and Priscilla Presley making money off the dead?”

    Now, because of their courage in the face of longstanding prejudice, we can add Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer to the list.

         


    Get The Net Economy Free
    Fill in the form below to apply for a free subscription to the print edition:
    Company: Address: Zip:
    First Name: City: Email:
    Last Name: State:  

    Email this Article
    Printer-Friendly Version

    NEWS  
    11:35AM
    Interland Dreams Big
     
    4.18.2002
    Goodwill Costs SBC $1.8B
     
    4.18.2002
    Amtrak on New Track with IBM Global Services
     
    4.18.2002
    Diva for Sale?
     
    4.17.2002
    Visual Networks’ ‘Big Kahuna’
     
    MORE

    THE TNE 100 
    The index for the networked world
     

    TNE WEB EXCLUSIVES 
    Jonathan Blum:
    HDTV on Cable? Maybe This Year
     
    Jonathan Blum:
    Convergence Goes Local
     
    Carol Wilson:
    Consolidation:
    Fools Rush In?

     
    Tim Kridel:
    Can Global Scale Rescue MMDS?
     
    Jonathan Blum:
    CLECs, ILECs, and now the ‘CitiLEC’
     
    Elizabeth Starr Miller:
    Home Sweet Home
     

    POLL 
    Which of wireless’ six crises is the worst?
    1. The High Cost of Growth
    2. Competition Overflow
    3. Churn, Churn, Churn
    4. Revenue Slippage
    5. All the Good Ones Are Taken
    6. The Spend-to-Save Paradox
    VIEW ALL POLLS


     SHOP NOW
    Find the products and prices you're looking for:
     
    Pick a Category:
    Shop by Keyword:

    Shop by Price Range:
    Powered by Nextag.com

    Sponsored Links
    advertisement
    Sponsored Links


    The Net Economy:
    Customer Service | Contact Us | About | Advertise

    Ziff Davis Media:
    About | Advertise | Newsletters | Magazine Subscriptions | eSeminars | Feedback
    Baseline | CIO Insight | Computer Gaming World | Electronic Gaming Monthly | eWEEK | ExtremeTech | GameNOW | Official US PlayStation Magazine | PC Magazine | Ziff Davis Smart Business | The Net Economy | Yahoo! Internet Life
    Copyright © 2002 Ziff Davis Media Inc. All Rights Reserved.
    Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Ziff Davis Media Inc. is prohibited.
    For reprint information: click here.
    Search this website