07 July 2005

A pound of flesh, taken from about the heart

Today, I watched Microsoft shooting itself in the foot.

I stood at the counter in a local computer reseller, and listened to the following customer problems (C:ustomer/S:alesperson/L:eon):

  • C: I want a copy of Norton’s S: $79 thanks L: [wry grin] spot the Windows user C: [looks sad] can’t take chances [walks out with Norton’s]

  • C: do you have any memory sticks? and a virus protector? S: [shows her Flash stick range, brings out boxed copy of Norton’s ($79) plus OEM copy of McAfee ($25)] C: why is that one only $25? S: it’s an OEM version C: what’s that mean? S: ummm... L: no pretty box and no manual C: oh, is that all? S: [shrugs] yes. C: great! I’ll take this one then [selects McAfee, launches into monologue about her machine having just been fixed again... obviously resentful at having to spend even $25 to stop it happening again]

  • C: [selects all of the components for a computer with S:] Now a copy of MS-Office OEM. [which is $239 RRP exGST, nonOEM version is ~$670 incGST] S: [obviously uncomfortable] I’m sorry, I can’t sell you that C: [disbelieving] what? S: [going red] Microsoft won’t allow us to sell Office OEM except with a pre-built system C: what? I can’t believe that! what else is there? L: Microsoft’s rules have been getting sillier. if you think this is bad, go and have a look at what they put service providers through S: [nods] do you have any students in the house? C: [thinks] y-yes S: then the best I can do is to sell you the Educational version of Office Professional C: [obviously upset] yes? and what’s that cost? S: $239 [same as Ofice Basic OEM] C: [goes red] right. never mind. [walks out, leaving computer parts on desk]
Result: one sad customer, one angry customer, one shell-shocked and distressed customer, two distressed salespeople (S: and his supervisor).

I’m going to propose to the shop that they offer a copy of OpenOffice for $10 as an alternative. Yes, it’s presenting it as “second best’ or “cut-rate”, but it is presenting it. An up-to-date copy of TheOpenCD ought to do nicely. And then we can see about them offering Linux as well.

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