It has been 62 days since I first blogged about my travails with my new Dell laptop with Microsoft Vista. Think I went quiet because Service Pack 2.5678896040230456 solved all my problems? Think again. My machine has continued to hiccup, burp, and fart over the past two months—so much so that I had an IT professional strip off Vista and rebuild it using Windows XP. Keeping my fingers crossed.
The whole thing has probably cost me a thousand dollars extra (not counting the cost of the laptop and the software), and at least a hundred hours of lost productivity. After my last post, suggesting that Steve Ballmer should worry more about building products that work than about buying Yahoo—he has redoubled his efforts to buy Yahoo.
If my GE refrigerator shut down several times a day, causing melted ice cream to drip from the door and food to spoil, you can bet that I'd buy another brand next time around. If several times a day my Maytag washer burped dirty water all over my floor and flooded my downstairs, I'd be done with Maytag. But in the world of computing, I'm kind of stuck, aren't I? I can go to Apple (too late now—I just bought Dell hardware), or I can just spend my time wiping up the melted ice cream and dirty water that Microsoft so reliably produces.
When the Justice Department was going after Microsoft a few years back, I was on Microsoft's side. It seemed to me then like a case of government out of control. Microsoft's fancy lawyers and slick PR hacks effectively made the point that they were at risk from competition from the likes of Google—so the government should lay off. But now I think that the Europeans have it right—Microsoft is a de facto monopoly. There are simply not enough choices out there when it comes to day-to-day computing. Microsoft has the power to force Vista onto all of the major platforms, forcing us to move to it, and forcing us to deal with its shortcomings until they get around to fixing it.
Let's be honest, there is nothing in Vista's pretty (and confusing) interface changes that we need. Certainly nothing worth $400. So let's start calling Microsoft what it is: A Monopoly. And I can't believe I am saying this, but let's follow Europe's lead and make it painful for Microsoft to continue its uncompetitive practices.