One of the things that’s confounded me as a programmer over the years has been computer timers.
You know the kind – when you go to install a piece of software, or go to copy files to a thumb drive, and the computer says you have “3 minutes 30 seconds for this to complete”.
Sometimes, I’ve sat for as long as 30 minutes waiting for the process to complete after that kind of notification.
Other times, I have watched as the progress bar ticks by as if a fire was lit under it’s ass and and 20 seconds later, a full 3 minutes and 10 seconds prior to the estimation, the process completes.
When I’d create an install program with a timer, I was a stickler for timing.
If I had calculated that it would take 10 minutes, I was damned sure it would take ten minutes.
This confused me. I couldn’t help but ask…
How could Microsoft, the world’s largest and most successful software company, so universally across all their installations drop the ball on timing estimations.
I mean, it’s not that I really cared about the accuracy.
But to some extent, it’s lack of accuracy in timing which had me question other aspects of Microsoft’s business.
Over the years I have learned that humans are visual creatures.
Whether it is with software development, or it is navigating the corporate world, or it is in interpersonal relationships, I have learned how extraordinarily important it is to at least appear like you have your shit together.
Even when you don’t.
And it’s the little things like this which can chip away at an image so much so – that like a snowball running down a hill, it soon becomes an avalanche which can undermine the integrity of the entire company.
Bill Gates might like to believe it’s the image of him getting slapped with a pie in the face in France years ago which started that cascade.
No, Bill, that’s the first time you were humanized – coming at a time your humanity was questionable, that pie in the face worked to your benefit.
No, What’s been chipping away at the foundation of Microsoft has been simple lack of attention to the details that matter.
A lesson Microsoft SHOULD have learned by overcoming the blue screen problems that plagued them in the past. Those blue screens were so ubiquitous – they not only gave Apple the chance to rise, but also inspired the whole Open Source re-ignition with Unix based operating systems.
Microsoft KNEW this problem needed to be resolved, particularly when Bill Gates – with an infamous smirk on his face – stood in front of an audience of IT enthusiasts as his latest incarnation had gone ‘tits up’ publicly.
Now one thing Microsoft has learned time and time again is the importance of being on the forefront of image.
But combined with that, there’s been something else that Microsoft has lost since the release of Windows 7 in the attempt to balance and maintain profitability – and that’s the simple passion and the ability to innovate.
And the root of this problem is so exceedingly simple, it’s ridiculous:
Microsoft’s not caring about the little things that turn us programmers on. As programmers get turned on, this excitement and enthusiasm rolls downhill to the users. And as users get turned on and excited so does the bottom lines of this – and other companies who model themselves based on Microsoft’s current model.
Let me outline this in simplistic terms that anyone at Microsoft can understand:
I turned off Windows “Automatic Updates” about a year ago and just recently turned them on again. I’d turn them off in frustration because my system would become unstable after applying them. But I wanted to install something which required a certain patch to be installed so I downloaded them all. Silly fucking me, right?
My system performance wasn’t hit hard. But as I watched – quite literally – at least 200 separate packages get installed from Microsoft’s distribution chain, I had to shut down and restart 5 times – and even then had to shut down 3 new services just to get control of my system.
Now I question the distribution system as the integrity of my system becomes suspect. Are hackers leveraging the Microsoft distribution chain to install malware on my system? Or is there really this little communication between groups within Microsoft?
But the timing thing. It has me thinking there’s more to it than that.
And as a homeless man I am entitled to think what I damn well feel like thinking without fear of being judged any worse than I already am, so the real question is – are there ‘alternate reality’ versions of Microsoft that simply do not have alignment with my timeline?
This sure as hell explains their lack of communication for software releases.
In any case, it’s like this, Microsoft.
I love you. You’ve given me something fun to play on and with that’s easy to understand and enjoy throughout my life.
But with that enjoyment has come a great degree of frustration.
Frustration which has led to the development of my own replacement version of Windows.
Do I think I can do it ‘better’ than Microsoft?
It’s quite possible, and here’s why: I know something about Microsoft’s origin and the origin of Windows that no one would ever believe.
And the real reason the code and organization of the release of this company has come to be crap.
Mr Gates, I’m no Program Manager.
You should have a different CEO at the helm of your company – a company I care deeply about.
A CEO that understands time.
Understands the reason for image.
And the importance of it, and that sometimes with that image comes an associated cost.
Not all the time, mind you.
Here’s my advice to Microsoft for timing:
If you’re going to try to provide visual output of progress but you are unable to quantify it accurately numerically because of the wide variety of machine hardware out there, then remove the numerical feedback mechanisms and maintain a progress bar.
BUT MAKE THE PROGRESS BAR ACTUALLY WORK!
So many times that progress bar simply spins around like a Cylon eye showing absolutely nothing useful other than something’s happening.
And here’s my advice to Microsoft as a whole:
When your primary market is the United States and Europe.
Yet your development is primarily done by Indians.
And your research is done in China.
And your User Interface just went from an attempt to be 3d based to now a flat 2d base…
Are you trying to alienate users and force your own obsolescence?
You deserve more than that, in my opinion. You’re a wonderful company.
If you had only taken lessons learned from your interactions with the 3d game market and applied that to your corporate division, rather than go the other way and attempt to convert the gaming market into a corporate market.
You might very well be the most successful AND LOVED company in the world.
Wake the fuck up, Microsoft, and hire a new CEO who actually cares about your existence.
Dump the trash. Reincorporate in the United States. Pay your taxes but participate more proactively with the lobbying and political community. If you’re tired of Washington State, move your headquarters to Los Angeles AND DC to mix and mingle with the intelligence agencies and entertainment community.
Develop and nurture Research and Development arms in the United States focusing on pie in the sky technology from Star Trek – like Holodecks. Create a new gaming group for research and development to research and development concepts for non combat oriented gaming. And actively work with the adult film and entertainment industry – understanding that holographic technology WILL be used for this.
DONT be shy about this, and people will get over the evolving image of the more mature Microsoft which understands games and entertainment takes MANY forms.
Mr Gates, I can’t say I would run Microsoft as well as you have.
But I’d certainly try shit out WHILE maintaining class with my image and Microsoft’s image, that’s for sure.
A harsher and harder class than most people might be accustomed to, which is typically fraught with lies anyways.
I’ll just be forthcoming and unapologetic about it.
But then again. What company and/or owner in their right mind would ever give the outspoken homeless guy who sees across time the helm of a multinational company with an almost limitless budget to do what he pleases with it?
One of the first decisions I’d make as CEO would be to trash current direction for Windows development, and start, from the ground up, a 3d version of windows based on Windows 7 which looked like the Star Trek LCARS computer system.
With the sheer number of lawyers, I’d send my developers to develop it first. Then with my arsenal of lawyers owned by Microsoft, I would defend myself against any potential intellectual property disputes well after and through the lifetime of the operating system’s release.
Here’s the start of it (I am developing it already in C++):
My replacement for MS Paint. It works on 3d Objects. Vrilliant’s my company’s name.
Funny. i didn’t feel qualified to be a middle manager. But as a CEO of that company.
It’s the perfect fit because I just don’t give a shit.
I know, I’m a poet and didn’t know it.