Friday, December 15, 2006

Have your people buy my people a SACK!

I don't want to call it "doublespeak" because that's alarmist and I don't think it's exactly that. But I'd just like to point out that there's something funny about the way Microsoft has been using language regarding Vista. Here is an example (from this Microsoft page. Legal notice: I believe that my use of the following text in my blog is "fair use" under US copyright law):

Computers with the Windows Vista Capable PC logo will meet or exceed the requirements to deliver the core Windows Vista experiences such as innovations in security, reliability, organizing and finding information. They can also deliver key business features found in the Windows Vista Business and Windows Vista Enterprise versions, such as the ability to join a domain.

However, some premium features may require advanced or additional hardware. If a PC is not Windows Aero capable, for example, the desktop graphics experience in Windows Vista will be comparable to Windows XP with regards to visual features, stability and performance.


What's funny is that within Windows and especially within Vista, there are constantly messages on the screen like, "Windows is connecting to the network share", "Windows is retrieving the volume listing", "Windows is adjusting your display settings". It's always Windows doing something for you. Until, of course, it imposes system requirements. Then it's "the desktop graphics experience in Windows Vista will be comperable to Windows XP". See the difference? Or when you get locked of your system due to activation getting fucked up (it's been a big problem in the early corporate versions I've been using for development)... well, I don't have the system in front of me at the moment, but I recall a message, "Your copy of Windows is not genuine" in the lower left corner, and I have definitely read the "Use of blah blah Windows features requires a genuine copy of Windows" spiel, which is always in a tone that says, "These are the rules, we didn't set 'em, just thought we'd tell ya". They say it in the same way I'd say it if I was cleaning someone's computer that couldn't get system updates because they were running a pirated version of Windows. They don't have the right to use that tone, because they're the ones setting the restriction!

If they just said, "We, Microsoft, don't want people pirating our stuff and we'll cut off updates to people that do," I would respect that. But instead they're pushing some tripe about the advantages of "genuine" Microsoft products. Le meh. Just speak the damn truth without dancing around it.

And also, calling every feature in Vista an "experience" makes for documents, press releases, and even in-system dialog boxes that just make my eyes glaze over. It seems like corporate marketing-speak, but it actually makes it all the way down to the system itself. Weird stuff. The disconnect between it and the way real people (from n00bs up to geeks) understand their computers is sort of like the difference between Sony's lame fake blog about a guy wanting a PSP (they took it down after people got angry at them for astroturfing, so all that's left is a Google Cache version without images or formatting... but the text is still there, and it's still telling) and real human enthusiasm. And it's a difference that I can't exactly quantify, which bothers me. Someone that knows something about language, help? Perhaps I should read up on that...

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