In working with my past writings, I was both awed and a little embarrassed by just how much of it was time specific. In response, I wanted to come up with better topics on which to spend my insignificant amount of writing time. However, I came across a couple posts that I never finished that were more timeless; it helps that the pieces were about company’s that don’t like to change, like Microsoft.
Today, I wrote a tweet that summed up my feelings on Microsoft only as good as 140 characters can, predicated on their unwillingness to change. In short, while the world moves toward the sentiment that everything can be considered a computer, Microsoft continues to peddle its wares on the assumption that the only thing we should be calling a computer is a device running Windows.
What Microsoft doesn’t seem to want to come to grips with is just how bad they are at stewarding their own OS, with sputtering starts and stops that have become the default view from technologists and informed the approach to support in the technology support field. Largely, tech support people believe that skipping a release of Windows at this point is normal. Windows 7 and Windows XP were replaced by versions that were generally seen as inferior with Microsoft changing something, even trying something new, only to back out at the last moment.
On Windows 8:
Windows 8 was a bold attempt to fix this, and to throw out much of that accumulated debris. And, surprisingly, it has worked to a pretty respectable degree. Windows 8, particularly when running Metro apps, is an operating systems that is much simpler than any other desktop OS. And Windows 8, unlike iOS, has managed to achieve this without losing much, if any, of the power of a traditional desktop operating system.
Windows 10: Re-Crappifying Windows 8 - ignore the code
Admittedly, when in the don’t-call-it-Metro interface, Windows 8 was an enjoyable computing experience, especially when used with a touchscreen. Of course, it was still saddled with the baggage that Microsoft will seemingly never be able to remove: the rest of the Windows OS. I have nothing against desktop operating systems and I have yet to go iPad only, though I probably could for the majority of my work. My issue comes with Microsoft’s lack of backbone, its inability to change due to the vocal few who will complain no matter what the company changes and/or due to an institutional distaste for change.
On unwillingness to change:
A company that plays this game for too long becomes set in their ways, and any chance of real change simply becomes impossible. Microsoft is there, and has been for a long long time. Their product lines have stagnated, creating customer lock in is prioritized over creating customer value, and the supply chain is controlled by an iron fisted monopoly. Any attempt at innovation with a Windows PC has been shut out for over a decade, woe betide anyone who tried to buck that trend. The history books are littered with the corpses of companies that tried to change the ‘Windows experience’.
Microsoft has failed - SemiAccurate
Put these thoughts into the context of a company currently circulating ads that make fun of the iPad for not being a “real” computer comes in laughably sharp contrast to Microsoft’s history of unwillingness to even change the branding of their OS to accommodate new styles of computing. The ad’s title is “What’s a computer? Just ask Cortana.” And I have to assume that Microsoft is not asking rhetorically.
UPDATE: The interesting thing about writing up an article that references other pieces from years ago is the fact that the information may be wrong or obsolete. In this instance, I don’t think that is true, but TechCrunch put up an article regarding Microsoft’s open sourcing of PowerShell. I wouldn’t normally post about such things because it has no bearing on me or my work, but one of the themes of the article was how Microsoft is changing.
PowerShell is Microsoft’s command line shell for Windows power users, as well as an extensible scripting language for automating system tasks. It’s not unlike Bash on Linux (and now Windows, too), but with deeper hooks into Windows. Microsoft is changing, though, and as its CEO Satya Nadella is prone to repeating, it’s aware that it now operates in a “multi-platform, multi-cloud, multi-OS world.” That means the company is now regularly doing things that would’ve been inconceivable only a few years ago. Building a Linux sub-system into Windows 10 and open sourcing some of its core tools? That’s now par for the course.
I wouldn’t go so far as to call this a sudden ability for systemic change, however, so much as a realization that you are losing and need to go to where the users are, a last gasp for air when submerged after a lifetime of smoking. And a notable time for the rest of us to say “Finally!” if anyone cares enough.
Read, Think, Share, Repeat
The Challenges of 2020
TL;DR: Follow this link.
One of the craziest things about Christianity during the protests of the last few weeks is the fact that there are churches out there not discussing the issues honestly, not taking the time to have the hard conversations, not devoting their Sunday services to betterment of the world and people around them. If you’re church isn’t talking about racism right now, if they don’t mention that black lives matter, instead focusing on platitudes that equate to the “all lives matter” sentiment, it is time to start looking for a new church.
My wife and I meet with my “home” church virtually via Zoom since the pandemic is still a thing. Kimball Avenue United Church of Christ & La Iglesia Episcopal de Nuestra Señora de las Américas (KANSA, together) combined in a collaborative way to create a single denomination focused on the needs of their community. They follow Christ together toward the vision of love, reconciliation, peace and justice. The justice looks like the demolition and rehabilitation of an old church building and its grounds into a community garden and labyrinth open to all who seek peace through contemplation.
I give this elevator speech to mention that COVID has not been kind to faith communities in general. Budgets have been slashed, funding and grants have been cut, and congregations in need are also working to serve those in need, who are less likely to be able to financially support their church in these times. KANSA in one of the good ones. They speak truth, they have the difficult conversations, they preach in a loud voice every Sunday that black lives matter, that racism has no place in the church, that the LGBTQ community deserves respect and support, and that Jesus was a social justice warrior, who fought for the least of these no matter who they were, where they were from, what they looked like.
In fact, Jesus was most harsh to those who had the means to help and decided not to answer the call.
These systems of oppression we are protesting have been around a long time; they have screwed up a lot of lives, they have been the reason for revolution and the downfall of entire civilizations, they don’t work. We need to find a better way to live by supporting each other. And support has to come in systemic, social, financial, and political ways, both national and local.
I am not local to KANSA anymore, but I support their mission, the way that mission manifests in the world, and the simple fact that they follow Jesus no matter how ostracizing that position can be at times. Which brings me to the point:
Thanks to a $10,000 ‘matching gift’ from an anonymous donor, the challenge has become an opportunity. Over the next two months, we plan to raise at least $10,000 to meet the challenge. Through August 31, 2020, every donation we receive toward our “2020 Challenge” no matter how small or how large will be doubled by the matching gift.
KANSA is hurting financially and needs support, they do good work and are unabashedly progressive in their approach to our world. Donate now and see your contribution matched to keep one of the good ones fighting the good fight.
Thank you for your consideration.