Friday, October 29, 2010

No longer with it

In my post of August 18, 2010 entitled Electronic versions of my novel [display], I explained that, in order to get my novel All the Earth is Mine published electronically by Smashwords, I was obliged to purchase a copy of the legacy product Word, bundled with lots of other stuff that didn't interest me at all. I started out by registering the product with Microsoft. [I seem to recall that I was obliged to do so, to get it working.] After my initial shock to find that there's apparently no such thing as user documentation for Word, I soon got used to playing around with this dull old dinosaur… which apparently remains, for many folk, a synonym of word processing.

A few days ago, Microsoft sent me an email informing me that I could update free-of-charge to the latest version of their product. Now, Microsoft's update procedures involved entering three 25-character codes (transcribed manually from stickers on a piece of cardboard) and forwarding them an image of the sales invoice from the online Apple store. They were by far the most complicated operations I've ever been expected to perform in order to obtain the latest version of a software product. And I'm not even certain that these nitpickers are really going to give me an update. For the moment, they've merely stated that they intend to "review" my submission.

I've had professional contacts with Microsoft for a long time. In the early '80s, in Paris, I collaborated in the production of an Apple II demo disk for the Multiplan spreadsheet, which was an ancestor of Excel. A few years later, another project led to my meeting up personally with Bill Gates at a reception in a Paris hotel. Then, on April 2, 1991, as a freelance journalist, I was invited to Microsoft's marketing meeting in the Château d'Esclimont, located between Versailles and Chartres.

[Click to access the website of this luxurious establishment.]

Today, when I discover antiquated manual procedures of the kind proposed for an update of Word, my little finger tells me that an imminent destiny of decrepitude is surely looming over the head of this once-famous software corporation.

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