An Open Letter to Bill Gates…

By: Dwight Owen Schweitzer

Dear Bill,

I don’t want to hurt your feelings but I suspect that Microsoft may be one of the, shall I say, least liked companies in the world. I know that every time something goes wrong with my computer which came loaded with your operating system ‘du jour’ (and I have had them all) I am amazed that I don’t even get a disk or other means to repair it without either wiping out my history or paying somebody to get me back to whatever passed for ‘normal’ including exorbitant ‘tech support’ payments to you.

Of course I have the option of sorting through and reading all sorts of gabble-gook on one of the innumerable websites supposedly coming from your company and then trying to do as they suggest. Of course all this occurs while I can’t print it or have it in front of me step by step assuming I can ‘get on’ in the first place…get the idea? Make no mistake Bill, I am no dummy, but that is no way to run a railroad, let alone the information superhighway.

So why am I taking this unusual way of getting your attention (not that I can think of any other)? It is because I want to suggest that you take another look at your business model and make the following admittedly fundamental changes. Stop being a software company and become what in fact you already are and that is a public utility. I pay a monthly fee for my phone line and I want to pay you a monthly fee too. Since AOL 9.0 and the addition of remote assistance on my PC came along I have learned that any potential problem with my computer can theoretically be fixed remotely. Who would be better to do it than you and on an ongoing 24/7 basis whenever I reached out to you.

Then I wouldn’t have to keep upgrading my operating system; you would do it for me as part of my monthly fee and could help me build a firewall between you and the stuff that is none of your business unless I want to make it so, so my privacy is not lost at the expense of curing a pain somewhere south of my stomach.

What intrigues at least me about all this is the fact that we should not be adversaries (and make no mistake Bill, right now we are). That being said, as we are quite literally in this together, let’s be examples to those who endorse the sanctity of marriage, after all you are in my house all the time anyway. .

Not only does this give you a real advantage over your rivals but actually makes you ‘consumer friendly’, something I don’t recall ever having heard you being accused of. In terms of your income stream you wouldn’t have to try every few years to get me to buy another and presumably better operating system; you would just keep on improving the one I have as your understanding of newer applications gets translated into the marketplace. When you want me to replace it you do it for me remotely as it keeps you ahead of the pack and makes me feel secure that my money is not only well spent but will not be here today and obsolete tomorrow. .

Most importantly, I want you to feel just as badly as I do when my computer crashes so I know that you have a real stake in fixing the mess you (dare I say) forced me to buy in the first place, gratuitously built into my ‘new’ PC. A decision I might add over which I had virtually (a little pun there) no control whatsoever. By the way, I am sure my ‘friends’ over at Time Warner are reading this too and they already have an automatic repair feature built into their AOL service for which I also pay a monthly fee. So be a pal to all of us non geeks and try to understand that if I had to marry you, you have the obligation to support me in the style to which I thought I was going to become accustomed. .


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