Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Tuesday, January 21, 2003 8:50 pm

Microsuck, or, Why I Am Not An Early Acquirer

Filed under: There but for the grace of God ... — Lex @ 8:50 pm

I don’t want to get off on a rant here, but it seems my recent tirade about Microsoft’s not providing support for its own products anymore has attracted at least one Microsoft defender — who then goes on to chide me for owning such an outmoded computer.

Now, in all fairness to Alex, we’ve exchanged views on a number of occasions with respect to both politics and computers, and although we inhabit different worlds — he works in tech support; I place less stock in “tech support” than I do in the Easter Bunny — he has never been less than courteous. But he makes a couple of points I think need to be addressed:

Most people who are still using Windows 98 are quite obviously not too concerned about being up-to-date and Microsoft’s support for Windows 98 has never been too great. In fact, the only way I see this being a problem for 98 users is when it comes time to upgrade their computers. New hardware will undoubtedly not be registered with 98 and drivers will not be available.

My point is not that I am so wedded to Win98 that I want to keep it even if I get a newer, faster computer. My point is that the computer I’ve got right now does what I need it to do while running Win98, so why should I want to upgrade my OS before I’m ready to upgrade my hardware? As a consumer I just think it’s reasonable that Microsoft provide at least security upgrades for Win98 as long as it remains in wide use, however “wide use” is defined.

Dr. R. Alex’s diagnosis is to get out of the stone-age (200MHz Lex? [shakes head]) and upgrade. Quite honestly, I wouldn’t feel safe working on a machine that old. At least be sure to back up all your information if you are.

I back up as much as is possible, feasible and practical, which is what I’ve always done. But “get out of the Stone Age”? Dude, that’s harsh, and it leads me to my original rant point, from which I somehow got temporarily sidetracked. As I pointed out in the comments, my wife and I have a number of financial commitments — our kids’ day care, the mortgage, her MBA program, pets — that compete with computers for funding. Moreover, we’re journalists. We don’t work in tech support, which means we damn sure don’t get paid like we work in tech support. And even if, as Alex pointed out in his comments, a decent upgrade were available for $300, most of the time I just don’t have the $300 to spend.

Now, don’t get me wrong: I’m not complaining about lacking the money. I chose this career with my eyes wide open on that point. I am, however, complaining about the tendency of techies — not necessarily Alex, mind you, but a lot of techies, particularly younger, single, unattached ones who get a new scream machine every year at work because their employer needs them to have one to do what they do — to presume that everyone ought to get a faster computer every year or two whether they need one or not and that the only reason I haven’t laid out $300 for a faster computer is because I don’t want to.

As I pointed out in Alex’s comments section, our cat’s recent veterinary adventure cost more than a new Dell (which is to say, way more than $300). Now, what were my options? Let the cat die in front of my 4-year-old daughter? Let the cat die out of her sight but tell her he had been sent away to live on a farm? Being the daddy means making tough choices sometimes, and I went into that with my eyes wide open, too, but one choice I am not going to be making anytime soon is to let the cat die so that Daddy can get a new computer. I can be a cold SOB sometimes, as the people who work for me have told me repeatedly, but I am not that cold.

And we’re relatively well off. There’s a helluva lot of people out there in worse shape financially than we, and when some of them are at the public library surfing the Web because they can’t afford a computer at any price and they read what some of these techies have to say, I imagine they get even more incensed than I do.

So don’t presume you can infer people’s motives and desires by observing their choices. Sometimes they have nothing to do with one another.

Peace. Out.

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