Douglas Adams on Windows '95 (fwd)

Ryan Shelswell (
Tue, 26 Sep 1995 13:17:58 +1000 (EST)

Scott, I think this is the one. For general consumption too I guess..

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Mon, 4 Sep 1995 09:54:14 +1000
From: Ryan Sabir <>
To: vicky@nospam.socs.uts.EDU.AU, jimmy@nospam.socs.uts.EDU.AU, ryan@nospam.socs.uts.EDU.AU,
grweidla@nospam.socs.uts.EDU.AU,,,,,, pauls@nospam.exocet.comms.unsw.EDU.AU,,,
jjtan@nospam.charlie.socs.uts.EDU.AU, jslater@nospam.sequoia.itd.uts.EDU.AU
Subject: Douglas Adams on Windows '95

Macintosh: 1, Bill: 0

Have a read folks

> Beyond the Hype (Guardian, 25-Aug-95)
> Douglas Adams, author of the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy,
> argues Windows 95 does not cross any frontiers
>What on Earth is going on? Have we found intelligent life on other planets?
>Abolished war and famine? Found Elvis? Have we even devised a new and better
>way of using computers? No. All that's happened is that Microsoft has
>remodelled its operating system so that it's now more like the Macintosh.
>This may well be a cause for rejoicing among Windows users but it's hardly a
>giant leap for mankind and doesn't warrant this sense that we're all
>supposed to celebrate early and avoid the millennium rush.
>As part of this billion-dollar festival of smoke and mirrors, Bill Gates has
>apparently paid the Rolling Stones 8 million pounds for the right to use
>Start Me Up, the song which is better known for its catchy refrain "You make
>a grown man cry".
>This is a phrase you may hear a lot of over the next few days as millions of
>people start trying to install Windows 95. Even the best designed systems
>can be a nightmare to upgrade, but whatever things Microsoft may be famous
>for - the wealth of its founder, the icy grip he exerts on what is arguably
>the most important industry on this planet - good systems design is not, as
>it happens, one of them.
>Let's dispel a few myths. There's one which says that the original PC
>operating system was a brilliant feat of programming by boy genius Bill
>Gates. It wasn't brilliant and Gates didn't write it. He acquired it,
>"shrewdly", from the Seattle Computer Company and then immediately licensed
>it on to another, larger, outfit called IBM. When the IBM PC was launched
>into a market which had hitherto been serviced by garage companies named
>after bits of fruit, it carried the impimatur of a world-renowned name and
>sold a zillion, making Gates' operating system a world standard. IBM had
>failed to realise that any fool could make the boxes, but the hand that
>owned the software ruled the world. Big Blue had given the kid Gates a free
>ride into the stratosphere and then, astoundingly, found itself starting to
>fall away like a discarded booster rocket.
>Sadly this new world software standard was actually a piece of crap.
>MS-DOS, as Gates called it, had started life as QDOS-86 or the Quick & Dirty
>Operating System, which told you all you needed to know about it. A whole
>generation of people doggedly learned to run their businesses on a system
>that was written as a quick lash-up for hobbyists and hackers. Was there
>anything better around? Of course.
>In the 1970's, Xerox had funded a team of the world's top computer
>scientists to research the man/machine interface. They devised a graphical
>system, using windows, icons and mice. Their key insight was that a lot of
>needless complications could be cut short by harnessing people's intuitive
>and gestural skills. Oddly, Xerox failed to follow this up, and the research
>was taken up and brought to the market by Apple Computer as the Macintosh.
>After a shaky, underpowered start, this machine matured into a
>well-integrated system which was not only very powerful, but a real pleasure
>to use. Mac users tend to have an almost fanatical devotion to their machines.
>The Microsoft line on all this was that Windows was for wimps. The truth was
>that plain old MS-DOS couldn't actually do them. Graphics, mice, networking,
>and a whole lot else, had to be added to the basic core of QDOS as one
>afterthought after another, which is why Wintel computers are so fiendishly
>complicated to set up and maintain.
>Gates, however, had always known which way the future lay, and for years
>Microsoft managed the awkward juggling act of rubbishing Apple's user
>interface while simultaneously trying to devise something like it that would
>fit on top of the bloated clutter that MS-DOS had become.
>BYTE magazine said recently: "It would not be an exaggeration to describe
>the history of the computer in the past decade as a massive effort to keep
>up with Apple." However, the Macintosh is not the last word on interface
>design, and if Microsoft had been the innovative company that it calls
>itself, it would have taken the opportunity to take a radical leap beyond
>the Mac, instead of producing a feeble, me-too, implementation.
>An awful lot of people who try to install Windows 95 will end up having to
>spend so much money buying extra RAM and upgrading their peripherals to get
>features that Mac users have enjoyed for years, that they might as well give
>up and buy the real thing.
>The idea that Bill Gates has appeared like a knight in shining armour to
>lead all customers out of a mire of technological chaos neatly ignores the
>fact that it was he who, by peddling second-rate technology, led them into it
>in the first place.

Ryan Sabir |E-Mail :
Assistant Lab Manager |Phone : 02-330-8933
University of Technology, Sydney, Australia. |Fax : 02-330-8929
Faculty of Design, Architecture & Building. |Smoke Signal : ** *** * ***
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