Microsoft the abusive boyfriend rehashed

As I mentioned before, I intensely disliked Microsoft under Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer. That post was a record of six times that Microsoft shipped code to fuck over you and me, if you were a customer of particular Microsoft partners. I should have included IBM OS/2, which was another case way back when.

Actually, since then another one popped up. Microsoft shipped code to all their partners for quality assurance testing – everything worked fine – and then at the last minute, they made a change and shipped. The monthly updates then happened to “accidentally” wipe out the user’s ZENworks configuration, with less than one week’s notice.

But I want to go back and rehash the underlying problem.

Microsoft won.

It won by beating your daughter for looking at another guy.

What type of morality did Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer maintain, that it was acceptable to them to ship code that deliberately fucks over their customers who happen to also be customers of other companies?

Some of those companies were actual partners, too. I remember hearing management at Novell saying “When it comes down to it, we are a Windows software publisher.” The bulk of their products were MS Windows applications and the systems to wrangle them.

That Microsoft would backstab it’s partners was my point about LIM EMS. LIM = Lotus, Intel, Microsoft. EMS = Expanded Memory Specification. The original PC’s had very real memory limitations. There was a desperate need for machines to have more memory, and for programmers to be able to access it. So Lotus Development got together with Intel and Microsoft, and they hashed out a spec that programmers could use. They published the spec. Programmers (including the programmers at Lotus) started writing to the spec.

Suddenly, your spreadsheet could have more than 80 rows and 10 columns.

If you were doing a lot of “what if” calculations back then, the memory constraints that 640 KB imposed on you were huge. Everyone needed this problem solved, if the Personal Computer wasn’t going to remain an expensive toy.

The Personal Computer went from a toy to a useful tool. Everyone won. Intel sold more chips, IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Compaq, PC’s Limited (later became Dell), Gateway 2000 – they all sold computers, and Microsoft sold a license to DOS with every one of them. Lotus sold a copy of 1-2-3 to 90% of the PC buyers, because that was the point.

Sure, the “what if” calculations had been done for decades: by hand. It was a miserable process. Suddenly, “what if?” was done in minutes, and then seconds, and then milliseconds!

Maybe I need a $5,000 loan, and the bank will let me borrow and pay it back over 60 months at a 10.5% interest. What if I can come up with $300 so I only need to borrow $4,700, and, pay it back over 63 months instead? Do I save money? What does the monthly payment look like?

What about paying $4,700 back over 60 months, but paying an 11% rate? Do I save money? What does the monthly payment look like?

By hand, the formula is Principle + Interest – Payment => Balance. The next row’s Principle is the previous row’s Balance. A five year loan is “only” 60 rows. A 30 year mortgage is 360 rows. How much did it cost you? Sum the Interest column. Yes, you can do it by hand. But it is drudge work.

Lotus 1-2-3 made number crunching magic happen. Microsoft benefited from vastly expanded PC sales.

And then Microsoft saw you spending money with Lotus. You’re looking at another guy, and, spending money with him.

Time to pick a fight, beat your face, and strangle your neck. Or in Microsoft’s case, change the rules by shipping changed code and (surprise!) crashing your program.

“But, baby, I wouldn’t have to beat you up if you didn’t spend with other guys! I love you so much! It’s your fault that I care so much.”

Or, cutting away the bullshit, Microsoft was evil. Harming it’s customers so that it could destroy it’s competing partners was always on the table.

And eventually, Microsoft won. Or are you still using Lotus 1-2-3 today? OS/2? WordPerfect? NetWare?

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