Did you ever consider that your computer is private property? You bought it. You paid for it. It’s yours. The hard drive, the motherboard, the CD, the RAM— it’s all your property, just like your couch, your stereo, and your house. If someone came into your house and tried to remove your computer without your permission, you could have that person arrested. If the same person tried to steal your computer three times, in California, he could go to jail for 25 years! Think about that. Our government is so concerned about your private property that is willing to spend millions of dollars to punish anybody who tries to take it without your permission.
The hard drive is your property too. That’s where the programs and data go. The hard drive is like a gigantic cathedral with thousands and thousands of rooms. And you own it! All of it! And like any owner, you can put stuff in your rooms.
Wait a minute! Somebody’s living in your cathedral! Some complete stranger just walked right in and made himself at home without asking for your permission. Not only that, but he’s brought hundreds of his friends. By golly, they are taking up a whole wing of your cathedral!
Why, it’s Bill Gates. He’s living in your house! How about that!
How did he get there? Well, first of all, on the day you bought your computer, Bill Gates and a large number of his friends moved right in. And guess what? Not only does he get to live in your hard drive without paying you any rent, but he gets to make YOU pay rent, even though you might never have invited him in. Yes, you pay the Microsoft Tax every time you buy a computer, whether you want Bill Gates to live on your hard drive or not. If you don’t believe me, go to a computer store and tell the guy that you want to buy a computer but you don’t want Windows on it.
Ever look through your Windows directory? There’s about a hundred subdirectories! That’s where all of Bill Gates’ parasitical friends live. You’ll find his best friend, MSN there, along with IE, and AOL, and Genie, and lots of other weirdos that you didn’t invite in. These guys are taking up space in your house! And they didn’t ask to come in!
Look, maybe you asked Bill Gates in, because you needed to use his Windows software. And maybe you don’t mind that he added a few freebies to your Windows, like CD Player and DeFragger. But after winning your good will with those freebies that don’t really annoy you, he has suddenly pulled up at your front door with two eighteen-wheelers. “Hi there? You don’t mind if I bring all this stuff in, do you?” And there he is loading up your hard drive with all kinds of bizarre little applications.
But this is like inviting an electrician in to come and fix your main electrical panel, and then finding out that he brought about a hundred of his buddies with and they’re all setting up hot-tubs and pool tables and beer kegs and partying down on your hard drive and smoking and blowing your fuses and leaving blood stains on your drapes and so on. Think about this next time your Windows 98 crashes. Why did it crash? Because it’s so hard to write a good computer program nowadays? Or because of all the other crap that got loaded onto your system along with Windows 98?
So you go– what’s wrong with that? Okay. You like hot tubs? So you decide to get into your hot tub. The hot tub manager says, hold it: you have to pay me $300 to use the hot tub. You say, that’s too much. I won’t use the hot tub. Do you think the hot tub is going to go away? No, it’s not. It’s going to stay there, steaming away, corroding your pipes, leaking into tour basement for ever. Every time you walk by, the guy goes, “hey, wanna use a hot tub?”
It’s not only Microsoft that is guilty of this invasion of your private property. Most computer vendors dump all kinds of technotrash all over your computer before delivering it.
I recently bought a Compaq notebook. I needed a lot of disk space, so I paid extra for a 6.3 gig hard drive. Well, Bill Gates had already taken up about half the house there, and then I found out that Compaq had stolen an additional 1.6 GIG of space on another drive. This is called “system-save”. Compaq sets it aside as a backup of the system so that when Windows goes bad, as it inevitably does, you can simply delete all your work and start over again with a fresh install. Great solution, eh? Compaq assumes you are a total idiot who wouldn’t actually decide to customize your software. Well, my attitude is: get the hell off my property! If I want to pay twice as much for a house so I can have a whole wing devoted to backup toilets and appliances, I’ll buy it from somebody else who gives me a choice, thank you.
Even worse– most of that 1.6 gig is not taken up with essential files for running your computer– it’s taken up with all the crap that you didn’t want in the first place and won’t buy! Compaq insists you keep that crap right in front of you because sooner or later…
Bill Gates is getting pushier and pushier too now. You get your new computer—it’s already got a directory called “My Documents”. What kind of idiot is going to create a directory called “My Documents”? An idiot who is going to create all of about five documents in his entire life and wants to keep them all in one folder so he never loses them, maybe. And then there is “program files”. You can’t get to the program files directory by typing “CD \PROGRAM FILES” like you should be able to. You have to type “CD\PROGRA~1” for some bizarre reason! You can’t get rid of these folders either. Why not? If that electrician who fixed your electrical panel decided to leave a bathtub in the middle of your living room, you could get rid of it. But Windows says you can’t delete certain folders, including the idiotic “My Documents”. And when you browse to the Windows directory with Windows Explorer, you don’t see the files that are in there. Instead, you are warned not to tamper with anything.
Microsoft’s mission in life, of course, is to sell as much software as possible. Because there are a lot more dingbats in the world than power users, Microsoft keeps aiming Windows at the idiot-user. Don’t know how to organize your files? No problem—Windows will put them all in one directory. Don’t plan to ever customize your applications or edit their configuration files? You’ll never even know where they are. Can’t figure out how to configure dial-up networking so you can go on the Internet? Hey—Microsoft will do it all for you, and log you into their web servers, and demand your credit card number, of course.
In other words, most people are going: “Hey—I hired a plumber to fix the toilet and you know what he did? He put in a hot tub and a Jacuzzi and a sauna too! And I didn’t even ask him!” Oh, but how much did it cost? “It was free. It came with the computer.” Free, of course, except for the Microsoft tax on every new computer sold by mainstream vendors. Free, at the price of freedom and individuality and choice. Free, except for the fact that the primary objective of Microsoft is to turn the Internet into television: 67 channels and nothing on.
The software companies never tire of trumpeting their rights all over the place. It’s about time the computer user started standing up for his own rights. You own your hard drive. You have a right to demand that software companies and internet servers stop dumping their advertising on your hard drive. It’s time to demand that Microsoft install only the application that you asked for on your hard disk.