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Ubiquity, Volume 2000 Issue July, July 1 - July 31, 2000 | BY John Gehl 


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Reader Comments:

Dear Beta Site User

Re: "Finger Pointing in the Wrong Direction," (Ubiquity, June 13-19)

      Quibbling over the difference between "customer" and "end user" with regard to MS products obfuscates the issue that was raised. Microsoft is the very embodiment of a quote I heard some 20 years ago: "A Systems Programmer is a programmer who looks on the user as a source of test load." Microsoft has been practicing this policy since the first release of MS-DOS. Many years ago, my company was one of the first to use a commercially purchased copy of MS's latest Fortran compiler. We were also first to report 2 of the 130 or so bugs reported in the first 5 days it was out. As a result, we were awarded a free (!) bug-fix release. The accompanying letter opened with the salutation, "Dear Beta Site User." This is not apocryphal; I read the letter. I've been a beta user before, but this was the only time I achieved that status by buying a released product!

-- Gary Marquart

No Choice for Most MS Customers

Re: "Finger Pointing in the Wrong Direction," (Ubiquity, June 13-19)

      Newcomer makes some good points in his note, but I would like to address his assertion that "Microsoft is delivering to customers what the customers say they want, which is wide-open, security-free environments capable of executing 'cool' graphics from the Web" and "the consumer offerings have no security or file protection, because consumers don't want it." If one judges what consumers want by the fact that Microsoft has a dominant market share, one assumes that the consumers had a choice. However, a large proportion of Microsoft users were introduced to computers by having to use them at work, and there the purchasing choice was made by others. I am always amazed at people who have experience with Microsoft products only, and are leery or even fearful of other brands. They then tend to buy similar systems for home use. As one said to me "Without Microsoft, we wouldn't even know what to do with computers." I suspect that the reason Microsoft loads software with such an array of features is that they are primarily marketing to non-users, or at least users with minimal knowledge of software and computers, that is, the purchasing agents at corporations. If one lacks knowledge of the technology, then it appears that listing features for competing products permits one to make the safest choice by buying the product with the most features, never mind that many features are mysterious (to the corporate purchaser), may not be needed by the real users, and in fact may not be usable. I view the Microsoft products used in offices to be strictly for amateurs, and office workers are generally amateur computer users. For professional products, one must look elsewhere. However, security can only be effective if implemented at a highly professional level. But never fear. Bill Gates has assured us that he will solve the security problem through the "magic of software."

-- Dale J. Gaumer

Previous comments on "A Call for Early Intervention."

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