The Rumor Mill

Window XS and World Domination

- 2002.07.08

With Jaguar (OS X 10.2) preannounced and sitings of a 1 GHz PowerBook G4 as common as sites being blacklisted by Macworld Expo, there's not much point to rumor mongering in the Apple realm. But since I am Low End Mac's official rumor monger (it says so on my business cards and on my official Macworld non-press badge), I have to look to other sources.

None could be more ripe than Microsoft - pun fully intended.

Microsoft used to be about good programming, like the wonderful Applesoft BASIC and Olympic Decathlon games in the Apple II era. But with the PC-DOS contract, Microsoft moved from real products to vaporware, preannouncements, and other forms of hype that turned it from a software company with a marketing division into a marketing-driven company that makes software.

Yes, you read right - marketing-driven. Microsoft is not driven by the market; it is driven by marketing.

In the old days Microsoft was content to preannounce versions of Word with all the new features Word Perfect had just announced, getting buyers to postpone upgrading their copy of WP or switching to WP - and hoping that WP users would be suckered into buying the next copy of Word when it finally shipped with many of the promised features, and some of those features well implemented.

Microsoft doesn't have to do that any more. Word had a greater market share than Windows, thanks to Mac users. Excel is totally dominant in the spreadsheet market. PowerPoint is synonymous with presentation software, and Microsoft Access (pathetic as it is on a network) has become a reason for some companies to ditch the Mac in favor of Windows.

Over 90% of today's computers ship with Windows installed, the Department of Justice has proved the Microsoft is guilty of antitrust violations out the wazoo, and Microsoft goes on its merry way toward increased domination of the Internet, ISP, cable TV, and God only knows what other markets.

Count on it: MSN will eventually displace AOL as the world's number one ISP, and Microsoft's cable "partners" will become a larger and larger percentage of that industry. Microsoft's pockets are deep enough to assure that.

Beyond Windows XP

All that is prologue to Windows XS, which will eclipse Windows XP the way it destroyed the last vestiges of Windows NT and Windows Me.

Windows XS will be modular, as demanded by the Department of Justice, but it will fully incorporate .Net, Palladium, and all the other "privacy" and "security" features MS can dream up. And it will all be hosted by Microsoft Bob Jr.

Windows XS will redefine personal computing, corporate computing, and Internet computing. That's how big it's going to be - Big Brother big.

Using lessons learned while developing Xbox, Windows XS will be able to run on a computer with no hard drive whatsoever. None. Nadda. Zip. Zilch. Between a reprogrammable PRAM, flash memory, and a system DVD-ROM, you'll have everything you need to connect to the Internet via dialup, DSL, or cable modem or connect to an ethernet network. And you'll be all ready to work.

Windows XS will include Office XS at no additional charge. You'll have Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Internet Explorer, Minesweeper, Solitaire, and all the other important MS software on the system DVD-ROM. Everything at one low cost of entry. It'll make building IE into the OS look trivial.

The flash memory on the XS Box (Microsoft's name for the new non-Intel-based computer that will run WinXS) will store your ID, passwords, and other personal information. All your other files will be stored on your XS Disk hosted by MSN. Everything.

Microsoft will push this as the ultimate in security and portability, since all of your files will be backed up at multiple Microsoft servers around the globe - and you'll be able to access them from any XS Box connected to the Internet. (And only from an XS Box, so it's a good thing they'll be cheap.)

Although the XS Box will be able to speak TCP/IP and use standard Internet protocols, at the heart of the whole scheme is MS/IP. MS/IP will be a fully secure, fully scrambled, fully verifiable protocol that will only work with the XS Box, versions of Windows XP with a future security patch, and peripherals that license the MS/IP stack from Microsoft. There will be absolutely no Mac, Linux, or Unix support.

By hosting everything important on their servers, Microsoft will be able to insure that none of your files or email contain Windows viruses. They'll also be able to check whether your MP3s are legal and if any of your pictures contain kiddie porn. They'll also scan your documents for signs you might be an el Quaida operative or neo-Nazi. And Microsoft Bob Jr will automatically report you to Homeland Security, the CIA, the FBI, Echelon, SD-6, the K directorate, the Illuminati, the RIAA, the MPAA, NeoPets, or Bill Gates himself, depending on exactly what Bob Jr finds.

On the other hand, Microsoft will allow you to address copyright infractions in real time by licensing unauthorized MP3s, WiMP files, and other types of files protected by the Digital Millennium Copyright Law. Microsoft will make arrangements with the RIAA, MPAA, and other organizations authorizing them to legalize your files via micropayments.

Oh, didn't I mention that MS Bank is also part of Windows XS? To simplify handling micropayments in the various currencies in use around the world, Microsoft has purchased banks in the U.S., Canada, Europe, and several other large markets, creating MS Bank International. The company hopes to eventually have banks for every currency in use around the globe.

But it gets better. Rather than having to deal with fluctuating exchange rates, MS Bank won't use dollars or Euros as their standard currency. Instead, transactions will be handled electronically in Microsoft Marks (MS Marks or MicroMarks for short), now that Germany has abandoned the Deutchmark in favor of the Euro. It's expected that there will initially be 10,000 MS Marks to a U.S. dollar, immediately making Bill Gates a trillionaire.

In a related move, Microsoft has purchase MasterCard, which will be renamed MS MasterCard (with typical Microsoft creativity). Existing MasterCard credit and debit cards will continue to function with their current currency, but when the expire they will be replaced with cards that work exclusively in MS Marks. All MS MasterCard accounts issued after January 1, 2003 will also be MS Marks cards.

Also effective January 1, 2003, all software license fees, MSN fees, and other fees due Microsoft may only be paid in MicroMarks - which are not legal tender in the United States, which MS hopes will exempt them from paying any future taxes, since the company will no longer operate using any national currency.

All transactions, whether licensing an MP3 or paying for spam blocking on your MSN Hotmail account, will incur a fee of 2 MS Marks - one Mark for Microsoft and the other as a donation to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

By moving from selling software to licensing it on an annual, then monthly, then as-used basis, Microsoft expects to generate enough income to either declare Washington a sovereign and independent state or buy a few smaller nations, rebrand them (MS Cuba, anyone?), and make one of them the official headquarters of Microsoft.

Windows XS and the XS Box will be a huge step in moving Microsoft from a merely inconvenient monopoly into the kind of transnational juggernaut that may eventually buy the United States in exchange for financing the national debt.

Time will tell - but don't expect a word of confirmation from Redmond.

Nor do I expect a press pass to the next WindExpo, whenever that might be.

- Anne Onymus

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