It was a seemingly normal morning, no birds were singing, no traffic noise, no aeroplanes, no nothing ? things were just as they should be. They were this way because I was asleep. And any of that noise stuff would have meant I was awake and awake was where I didn?t want to be. Thus when the doorbell rang I knew that I was where I didn?t want to be: awake. The other place I didn?t want to be was the front door, thus I was at two at the same time, at the front door and awake. And I didn?t want to be at either of them.
Glowering at the postman through sleep-filled eyes, I saw he had a package for me. Like a lot of these packages, it could have been put through the letterbox, but I think he enjoys waking me up. Ironically, my postman doesn?t mind trying to put things through the door that patently don?t fit. Oh no, that?s fine ? shredding a magazine by force-feeding it to my door ? but if it is just the right size, panic sets in and he feels the need to hand it over personally.
Anyway, I had a package, great, just what I wanted, probably another packet of Guy Clapperton?s hate mail. Thus when I finally opened it I wasn?t prepared for the full, appalling, impact of what I saw. And at this point I think I?d better warn you to sit down, because you may well come over all faint. It was a CD-Rom of a beta of Windows 98 (or Memphis as the people in the know call it).
We all know what this means: more reviews, more speculation and more journalists proving that writing about operating systems isn?t their specialisation. In fact it will probably produce another slurry of half-wits trying to find the right metaphor for the computer operating system. ?It?s the brain,? says one. ?It?s the nervous system,? says another. ?It?s a pastrami on rye,? says someone who hasn?t got the hang of it.
I remember when a new version of an operating system was a secret. Well, when I mean secret, I mean we knew about it because we got the product managers drunk one evening and they told us. Sometime later we would get a press invitation to something where Microsoft or whoever would go ?tadahh? and unveil a new version of an operating system. At that point the only important question to ask was did it still have Edlin, and when they said yes we would all groan.
If I were cynical I would say it was all a ploy to get more coverage. A weekly computer newspaper that really should know better has already run a ?golly gosh? piece about it. It is only a matter of time before the BBC news runs a piece of on it asking those endearingly daft questions that only people on TV who haven?t the faintest idea about what they are talking about ask.
Let us not forget that Microsoft is an extraordinarily sharp marketing set up. Forget New Labour, check out New Microsoft, the company that doesn?t mind sharing beta code with all and sundry. This is the company that had top man Brad Silverburg saying at the time of Windows 95, ?This isn?t? a cure for cancer you know? It?s only an operating system?? I was interviewing him at the time and asked why, if it was only an operating system, was Microsoft paying the Rolling Stones something like $8 million to use their track Start Me Up to advertise it?
The Silverburg comment highlighted how Microsoft is painting itself as a ?grown up and realistic? company ? or managing our expectations, depending on whose spin you are listening to.
We now have an open, sharing, caring Microsoft, that, out of the goodness of its heart, wants to share the beta code of its latest operating system with us. And doesn?t at all want to reap the benefit of the high-profile coverage that it is going to get as a result. Of course not.
Having said all that about Microsoft, I can?t ignore the fools in the media who think they will be better lovers or whatever if they talk knowingly about Windows 98. It is a great shame, because as these people witter on about how it still has Dos in it or it isn?t as good as NT, it fuels the anti-Microsoft loons as well so they can also talk rubbish about Microsoft. Which will promptly be counteracted by the pro-Microsoft loons (a much smaller group, apparently), and before we know it everyone is talking rubbish about Microsoft. Soon after that IBM, Novell and Oracle will get out their axes and start grinding them.
So the circus has started to rumble into town. But it is a a circus of sideshows, and the main event is still months off. As for me, I?m going to board up my letterbox.
Struggling security titan makes three board appointments after investor took 5.8 per cent stake last month
Commvault ousted its CEO in May and has since undergone a radical refocus
As employees demand more flexible working environments, CRN asks how the channel is adapting to the changing working landscape
Wall Street less than impressed with Oracle's growth as cloud numbers remain hidden