From my window, I reflect on power plays of Washington

Did Bill lie, and should he be punished? Is it really anybody’s business what he
did? The controversy in Washington grips people around the country and around the world.

Testimony, depositions, claims and counterclaims are flying. New allegations arise
almost daily. At the center of this war of words stands a powerful individual—perhaps
the most powerful in the nation—whose every action affects the core of our economy,
who allegedly has participated in and caused others in his employ to participate in
possibly illegal actions.

I haven’t taken a position on this issue before, but I would like to say now that
I have never been a friend of Bill’s. He has done some things I don’t like. But
he and his cronies have also done things I strongly agree with and have personally
benefited from, so I am not by any means an enemy of Bill’s, either.

Standing in the dock is this powerful man with a loyal staff of spin doctors and a
battery of lawyers to claim that no laws were broken. Bill’s friends say he has done
his country a lot of good and deserves a break because he has helped so many Americans in
so many ways.

But I’m familiar with what can happen in Washington’s halls of power. So,
while not taking any stand on the legalities, it’s important to consider the moral
implications and the possible economic consequences.

That’s why I ask every user to step back a moment and look at what’s
happening. You all know what I’m talking about, of course: the way Bill, or more
properly, Mr. Gates, used and abused the 21-year-old MS-DOS, then spent a lot of time and
money to get her kicked out of his and every other office.

Critics say he cynically decided there was more profit in cozying up to Windows. If
that’s true, it was his right. Even at a young age, MS-DOS was widely seen as
calculating and embarked on a program of her own. Although people may not like what he did
to her, we can’t say we wouldn’t have done the same in his place.

The only substantive claims against Bill center around the fact that, after discarding
MS-DOS, he pursued his new love zealously and promoted her single-mindedly. Perhaps this
was because, at first, Microsoft Windows wasn’t up to the role he felt she was
destined to play in his and other offices. Perhaps he pushed too hard and too fast, only
to see failures.

Whether he was overly zealous is a legal question to be answered elsewhere. I’m
proud to say that I have never taken a law course in my life. What matters more to readers
is how the actions of Bill and his buddies will affect how we live and work.

As there are powerful, even free, Windows alternatives such as Linux, columnists and
Washington pundits should just stay out of the controversy and leave the legal questions
to the lawyers.

Some readers have written asking about another Washington controversy, one having
something to do with star reports. I guess they’re talking about *.* wild-card
searches such as dir *.*>report.txt.

My only advice from long experience is that if something isn’t behaving properly,
it can’t hurt to give it the boot. If a warm boot doesn’t work, try a cold boot
and just keep rebooting until you get a reaction. 

John McCormick, a free-lance writer and computer consultant, has been working with
computers since the early 1960s. E-mail him at [email protected].


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