Earlier this year, I helped my dad to get new laptops for himself and my mother. I tried talking them into getting Macs or iPads, but they balked with the usual refrains. “If I worked on creative things…They’re so much money…I know you just like them, but I don’t want to learn another thing…” Bargain basement prices for the devil you know is tough to argue against. So we got in the car and went to buy laptops.
Best Buy may as well be a Salvation Army thrift store when it comes to buying computers. You can’t hope for too much in terms of style or sustainability. And service? Forget about it. My dad walked in the door knowing the model of machine he wanted, and we still spent hours there while the staff tried, in vain, to figure out how to take our money. There was scanning this and formatting that and searching for the free printer he was promised.1
“Does it come with Office?” my dad asked. The blank-faced customer service rep looked at the box, as we had. “Oh yeah, definitely, says it right there.” Sure enough, there was a nice bright Microsoft Office logo on the box. My father wanted the machine to get some work done at home, and Office is a must. Like most people, my parents still believe that if you want to use Office at all you need a Windows Machine. If this plastic Toshiba laptop says it has Office on the box then it surely does, right? Wrong.
As it turns out, in 2011, Microsoft still ships a stripped down version of Office on new Windows machines. This version is ad-supported and barely works. In other words, it isn’t Office at all. It’s shit. Good sport that he is, my dad opened his wallet again and dropped $119 on Microsoft Office Home Edition. As it said on his Amazon order, “3PC/1 User.” Great, he’s only got two PCs, so it should install on both. But it doesn’t. Instead, he’s expected to buy two seats for his household.
Microsoft: go to hell.
There may well be a proper workaround that my father fumbled on. Perhaps he bought the wrong UPC, or maybe he clicked a wrong button when installing. Guess what? I don’t care. You still managed to fuck up the simplest bit of your core business, selling software. If you can’t sell software to my dad, you don’t deserve to sell it to anyone.
This is why I left Windows behind ten years ago2. This is why I left Word behind ages ago and haven’t even noticed. I’m not a Mac user because I want to look cool in coffee shops. I’m a Mac user because I believe in straightforward computing. I want something that does what it says on the tin. Microsoft still relies on false marketing and blatant trickery to make a buck. So it can go to hell.