Had enough yet? Did the Blaster worm send you over the edge? Maybe one of its variants is emptying out your hard drive right now. Or perhaps your bottom line is still suffering from a shutdown caused by the SQL Slammer worm back in January.
Is any of that enough to convince you to stop using Microsoft products? There are plenty of people rooting for just such an outcome, from Sun Microsystems to the entire overwrought and strung-out open-source community. (Health tip, guys: Try decaf.)
But the odds are very, very good that even with all the alternatives in the world, you and I and the vast majority of the free world will continue to boot up our computers to the familiar strains of Windows music. Are we just a bunch of mindless sheep following the pack? Will we ever learn?
Those hoping Blaster, its predecessors or its offspring will convince large numbers of people that Microsoft really and truly puts the “E” in evil have to realize we’re being forced to unlearn a generation’s worth of conditioning.
Yes, we know Microsoft acted like a monopoly, and we know that’s bad. But we also know that from the time we first learned where the on button was on a computer, Microsoft products have powered our machines.
Computers are daunting to the majority of the general population. We want them to make our lives easier, and learning something new is the exact opposite of easy. Even if the open-source community could somehow design a product that let users keep using all the Windows commands and shortcuts learned over time, they’d still have to overcome the hurdle of user uncertainty. Windows has done the seemingly impossible — made computers familiar and easy for the general population toiling away on them.
Not Ready Yet
Are viruses a pain? You bet. Home users got a crash course in that pain recently, thanks to Blaster. And it is cold comfort that enterprises for years have been going through the same kind of scramble to patch systems. All we want is for our machines not to crash halfway through a task.
But the tipping point is still far in the distance. It will take a lot more sinister viruses before we even get close to a widespread anti-Microsoft movement.
Oh, sure, people will pay lip service. They’ll rail against Bill Gates every chance they get. But when it comes time to put up or shut up — to remove all traces of Microsoft software from their hard drives — you better believe they’ll think twice.
The fact is, Microsoft products still work for the majority of the population. People may say they want an alternative, but as long as they don’t have to put a bumper sticker on their cars that says, “Honk if you love Windows,” they’ll continue to use what works for them.
Good Enough for Government
Nothing’s perfect. People recognize that. In fact, computer users are conditioned to expect a certain amount of annoyance. If our systems become unstable or our ISP is out of service for a few hours every now and then, it’s just growing pains, the aftermath of the technological revolution.
So Windows doesn’t have to be perfect to be the people’s choice. It just has to be good enough. And it is. Besides, does anyone really think that if Linux were dominant, there wouldn’t be just as many flaws and fixes being bandied about for it?
No, the tipping point is like the horizon. You can drive across the desert all day long and the it doesn’t seem any closer. It’s going to take more than Blaster to move the horizon.
Note: The opinions expressed by our columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the E-Commerce Times or its management.