Set Me Free Why Don’t You, Bill?

For over 20 years I’ve been in an abusive relationship. My partner is cold, demanding, unresponsive, passive-aggressive and high maintenance. I’m expected to keep paying more and more but get nothing new in return. My life is one long misery playlist –“Unchain My Heart,” “When Will I Be Loved?” “You Just Keep Me Hangin’ On.”

I should have left Microsoft long ago. I already spend most of my time cuddling with my iPad instead of my heartless Windows machine. It keeps demanding I buy a new version of Windows every few years when the old one is good enough for my purposes.

I’m not alone. A third of all Windows machines are still running XP. Their owners were smart enough to realize that that slut Vista would break their hearts and that 8 would be just a belated knock off of the real touch screen beauties designed by Apple and Android.

Yet now Microsoft, a partner without shame, has announced it won’t support XP anymore. It is orphaning its own child. People using it will be more vulnerable than ever to bugs and viruses, internet marauders and break-in artists. You get in bed with Microsoft and you have to buy its loyalty over and over again plus exterminators and repairmen and security systems to make up for its deficiencies.

Since 95% of ATM machines, and lots of government departments like water and sewer systems run XP, prepare to pay again through taxes or watch out after the cut off date of April 8. Anything might happen when the hackers get a hold of your bank, sewer or water supply.

This kind of endless upgrade is marketed as improving your life, but due to poor design often degrades the user’s experience. It is clearly just a huge protection racket. One shakedown after another. I would have ditched Microsoft long ago but its henchmen and co-conspirators have taken my data hostage and won’t let me leave the Windows family. Quicken refuses to provide a fully functioning Apple version. Several other programs I rely on won’t work on anything but Windows.

MY God, I’m married to the mob. “Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.” I thought maybe when Luca Ballmer went to sleep with the fishes they might finally treat me decently. But though the Godfather, Don Guglielmo Gates, is pretending to have retired to a life of charitable good works he still pulls the strings and his plans don’t entail doing right by his customers.

I admit my heart leapt up momentarily when I learned the new Capo de tutti capi, Satya Nadella, was going to make the company’s top-selling cash cow, Office, available at long last for Apple devices. If not exactly a white flag of surrender, it was at least an admission that Microsoft could no longer act so tyrannical since its monopoly was broken. If you count smart phones, only 15% of devices now run Windows.

Microsoft might no longer be able to tell customers to take it or leave it, I thought, or force them to buy new versions they don’t need, or stick them with kludgy software inferior to the often elegantly engineered products of their competitors and then quit supporting it.

But no, Microsoft will never change. Turns out Apple users will be able to have Office on their iPads, but for the privilege Microsoft won’t just charge you to buy it — again. It will charge you a $99 annual fee to use the software you have already bought. Meet the new Ballmer, same as the old Ballmer.

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