Login

We’re being extorted by computer giants

Imagine if that car you bought was more than 3 years old and you went to the dealer and they told you, “We no longer will service that model, it is too old, you should upgrade to a newer model.” And what if they then frog-marched you over to the newer models and told you that unless you bought one of them, you’d have no car to drive any moment now? Where would your loyalty be to that car manufacturer? Out the window.

Speaking of Windows ... It’s even worse than that. And in case all you Apple people are chuckling, think again. All new Apple software is built on Unix (which was a derivative of the original government-paid-for IBM DOS software that Microsoft and others freely re-branded as theirs). The loopholes, backdoors and patches to Unix make a hand-sewn quilt look like child’s play. 

All these computers are, to again use the car metaphor, an accident waiting to happen. And when the accident happens you will get blamed. Manufacturer product liability for computers is completely legislated against the end user. It is always the user’s fault, even if the wheels fall off or the highway you use has any bumps in the road at all. 

In fact, the only way to get a computer company to accept liability is for you to buy a new computer and never turn it on. That’s the only condition in which Apple- or Microsoft-based hardware purveyors will accept that you are not solely responsible. 

 

What, you accessed something on the Internet? Your fault. You opened an email? Your fault. You imported a photo from your phone? Your fault. You bought software not made by Microsoft? Your fault if Microsoft crashes.

And now comes a new wrinkle: Microsoft is 100% invested in Windows 10 to the point that they are sending threatening emails of warnings of what will happen if you do not upgrade. And the manufacturers are playing right along because they know that all that fancy graphic interface (pretty pictures to you and me) are only possible with the newest computer chips and video cards. 

Take an older computer, for example, happily running Win7. Does it work all of the Office Suite programs? Sure. And then one day, the Office Suite gets an “update” (meaning they fixed another poorly-designed loophole) and it won’t work on your computer any more. Solution? Call Microsoft, spend 30 minutes giving them the registration numbers (if you can find them), your name, reason for calling, explain it, oh, I don’t know, three or four  times to distant voices across the world, and finally you get a person far, far away who says, “Your program is out of warranty and to fix this issue will require a fee…” 

 

Your decision? Spend another $250 on updating a broken program that is already struggling with an “outdated” operating system? The advisor says, “There is no guarantee Office will work after the fix, as your system is too old.” 

And if you balk at that prospect and investigate buying a replacement computer with Windows 10 and upgraded memory and storage? Of the $1,500+ you will spend, Microsoft makes $500 or more. Oh, and there is no guarantee how long they will support the Windows 10 machine that you purchase. Two years from now, you may well find yourself in the car service center being told that your machine is too old and you should buy a newer, more shiny, model.

It’s all a chain of extortion, planned obsolescence, unnecessary program upgrades for 90% of what we all do on computers and, of course, forcing us, the consumer, to remedy the lemons they allowed in the system. In the car world, the Lemon Laws have teeth. In the computer world, it’s more like sour grapes being force fed to the consumer.

 

Peter Riva, a former resident of Amenia Union, now lives in New Mexico.