The March on Redmond

It all started with the keynote. The lucky few who were there, the invitees in the stores and the streaming video downloaders all knew…

Luddite MacThe March on Redmond

Tim Nash – 2002.04.01

It all started with the keynote. The lucky few who were there, the invitees in the stores and the streaming video downloaders all knew. The inflamed oratory was over, the reality distortion field shimmered and died, but this time they had it – the ultra cool new hardware and the killer app. They could breathe freely again. No more Windows.

A midtown store manager, who refused to be identified for fear of reprisals, said “At first some of those ‘fruit lovers’ hung around showing it off. We didn’t think anything of it until we realised our customers wanted it and were being sent to that store blocks away. Sales were down, so I figured why not let their range back in. But the company insisted on taking over the front of my store and wouldn’t even pay a premium. Then the ‘fruit lovers’ moved inside, and my own sales guys couldn’t get customers to the back of the store. So we switched off the lights there to save money.

“Customers kept demanding to go on the waiting list, and we only had a trickle of machines to sell them. Times were desperate. We took deposits, but it wasn’t enough. The Redmond response came just in time.

“Sure it was 1.0, totally buggy, and didn’t work. That didn’t matter. Our sales guys had something to show. Customers could walk out the door with a new machine, with the belief that, yes, it would do all that they want.

“I mean, who is going to wait 30 weeks for new hardware.”

With the Redmond response something inside of the ‘fruit lovers’ snapped. This time they weren’t going to let the rigged marketplace decide. Postings went up all over the Internet. They took over the chat rooms, and the date was set.

Redmond couldn’t take it seriously. As the Chairman said, “When will these guys learn that they lost? Haven’t they read our emails? Don’t they know we’ll do whatever it takes?”

After the execs laughed, one pointed out that since there are 25 million of them, maybe Redmond should take a few precautions.

At first it was fun to be on the defense committee. Since Justice had backed down, the rest of the takeover was almost too easy, and the new execs wanted to make their mark. The idea of a counter parade was enthusiastically adopted – “to show them what a minority they are.”

Over the next few weeks the bad news trickled in.

The guys from Austin are willing to help, but they mentioned something about needing a new deal. All the other OEMs said they would love to help, too, but they’re struggling to make a profit, have cut their staff to the bone, and can’t afford to spare them or the extra travel expenses.

Our users are just too factionalised. The 95s say that the 98s and the 2000s won’t talk to them. The 3.1s are lost in the past, and the diehard DOSers have decided they have more in common with the Linux anarchists.

The Chairman quickly intervened. “Offer them all free upgrades to come. We’ll get all the money back when they’re trapped in the .NET initiative.”

But it was too late. All the available transportation was taken.

It was then that the Chairman played his masterstroke. “Grab all the available large screens. Yes, even those from my house. Cover the outside of the buildings with them. I will give them the keynote to end all keynotes!”

At the start, it looked like a parade. Children were twirling gaily colored one-button mice, and sunlight was glinting off their parents’ translucent keyboards. Among them, though, there was a serious note with old timers relentlessly tapping their extended keyboards. All sported badges with “NoW” written large and claimed it stood for “No Windows.” Many wore T-shirts with a large white X over a blue screen of death, which they said represented the future and the past. They all had the gleam in their eye of a fanatic whose time has come.

They moved off to the beat of synchronised iPods, and the march on the “beige boxes” had begun. A few blocks further on, and the Linux brigade joined in. All their hearts lifted; there was seamless integration.

Up to this point the other Unices had been skeptical. Now they knew it was the real thing and quickly added their weight to the back end.

They arrived at the fabled Beige Box Campus. They looked up. Their faces replayed endlessly over the front of the buildings. The last notes of Imagine died away. The face of the Chairman filled the screens.

“Welcome. You are the vanguard. You are the Desktop Elite. You’ve always led the way.

“However, many are not prepared to pay your price. Many want something cheap, something that just does the job. It is those that my coworkers and I serve.

“But it is the striving between us that takes everyone to the New Frontier. It is the competition between us that helps make our country great.”

He took a deep breath. He had pulled it off. He had stopped them. No more accusations of a charisma bypass. They all looked peaceful and happy.

Probably nothing more would have happened – if he hadn’t said “I promise you we will put an end to all these security problems, an end to all this data destruction, and an end to all this fire fighting, with X pee.”

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