Recording of Donnie Tobasco and Chet Gates

Copyright by Karim D. Ghantous 1999

Transcript of secretly recorded discussion between FBCINSA plant, Donnie Tobasco posing as up-and-coming major Microshaft executive and Chet Gates, CEO of Microshaft Corporation

WARNING: Exaggerations and extreme subtlety prominent in the following mock interview. Some statements are not necessarily accurate and are only included to make a point.

Tobasco: But why not get it right from the beginning? If you honoured Galileo straight away, and made a hero out of him the same way the Brits made a hero out of Newton, you'd have no problem at all. Instead, people got it wrong thanks to some mistaken Greek astronomer who died a few thousand years ago. I don't get it, you know?

Gates: Because people will buy our products anyway, first because it was on the IBM computer, but now we are a market force in our own right. So why waste programmers' time on improving the quality of an upgradable product when they can write slap-dash but workable versions of more applications? Then they all can be upgraded and improved later.

Tobasco: But why do that? Why not get a reputation for good quality from the beginning?

Gates: Because if people are scared or sycophantic of us, it won't matter what strategy we take, as long as we get there in the end.

Tobasco: How long would that be?

Gates: About ten to fifteen years.

Tobasco: But that's too long!

Gates: No, it's not too long: people never remember. In fact, the biggest reason for our success is due to admittedly unworkable beliefs about something called 'compatibility' by the consumers. I mean, you can write a letter on Word for MS-DOS, right? Then you take that IBM-formatted disk, stick it into your Macintosh, load up Word for Mac and from there you open the letter you typed on the other machine and it will be exactly the same! So our success lives on both non-existent customer beliefs and reality at the same time. Two contradictory views, but as long as the public thinks the one and lives the other unconsciously, it's okay for our business. After all, we have a duty to our shareholders.

Tobasco: Sure, but what about legacy? Windoze would be half its size if it were programmed correctly in the first place! I mean, people have to virtually buy new computers every time they buy a major revision of Windoze!

Gates: Yes, but who's going to care? They think Windoze, first of all, is bigger because it has more features. It doesn't, really. Secondly, we have to make sure that every version of Windoze is a major upgrade.

Tobasco: But if people have to buy new hardware, it won't help us - in fact, they should be spending that money on more Microshaft software, shouldn't they?

Gates: Well, let me say, I like your style and ideas, but you're still a little naive in this area. But, you see, first of all, people are so in awe of us - and sometimes it makes me so sick, I have to admit - so in awe of us that they'll buy a new computer of whatever because they will almost feel guilty if they can't run Windoze! I mean, I couldn't care less what they feel - all that matters is that they get the impression that I'm in there rooting for the 'People', like some sort of socio-technological evangelist. You know, computers for everyone?

Tobasco: At a few thousand bucks a pop?

Gates: No, at $160.00 a pop.

Tobasco: But that's just the price for Windoze - the upgrade price, which is lower than the actual shelf price for new users: $350.00.

Gates: Again, you have failed to understand the tenets of the take-no-prisoners marketing systems we invented here at Microshaft. People aren't going to look at the price of the computer - they have dozens of models to choose from which all do the same thing. Anyway, because Windoze is so entrenched in their minds as being some sort of Holy-Grail software, something pure and virile, they will just make up an excuse to ignore the price of the computer when they realize they have to buy it. I mean, imagine if you're on a budget, and you think, gee, Windoze '95, only one-sixty dollars, I can afford that! So you tell everyone you're finally going to get a computer, forgetting of course that Windoze actually needs a computer to run, and when your expectant family awaits the new appliance into the home, you can't go back on your word, can you? You have to buy the box, no matter what the cost, and by comparison, the software is a drop in the ocean. But it's true, hardware is too expensive for my liking. And that means that most of the third world - most of the world's population, remember - can't afford even today's base models, let alone the software! But strictly speaking, it's also true that hardware price is irrelevant to us. If you want to spend a hundred dollars on a computer, fine. A thousand? Fine. Ten thousand? Fine, so lond as it's running Windoze, which costs the same, no matter what box you run it on.

Tobasco: So what is the end agenda for our company? What is our aim, our aspiration?

Gates: There is none. We just fight on and on and on. There is no end. We are so powerful that we are an end in ourselves. I've heard stories of customers installing Windoze '95 and just aimlessly playing with the bare operating system, with no applications at all, not even desk accessory like a clock or calculator. Just pressing the 'Start' button is a game and an ecstacy for these people. Even more vomit-inducing, I've heard of people buying '95, getting home and finally realizing that they need a computer to run it on!

Tobasco: But what's the point of all of this? I mean, success in business, in whatever way you do it, is the most important thing, everyone knows that, but there has to be something to aim for?

Gates: Yes. There is a challenge every day. And that is to put a new company out of business. We do this by stealing their market or their talent or their technology.

Tobasco: Well, I suppose the thrill of the chase is what keeps us going?

Gates: Sure.

Tobasco: But what happens when you run out of businesses to put out of business?

Gates: It won't happen. For the same reason that a small army will fight a hopeless war out of pride against a bigger army, we will never lose a pool of strong little start-ups to crush. Why waste our programmers' time and money on making a product better than the rest when market share can be gotten by easier means?

Tobasco: Like sheer weight?

Gates: Exactly. When you take the reigns of a major department here, and I'm confident of that, you can be sure that you will have the most powerful weapons in the history of business at your disposal. IBM could be in our place right now but they had no idea what they could actually do with their shocking power. So we were lucky, I have to admit, but even so, I would have taken a similar career path, somehow. Maybe work at IBM, who knows? But we are here, and you will see one day that we are really an invincible company. Just the mention of a new Microshaft product will send smaller competiors's shares tumbling because the world is actually ready to wait ten years for us to get the job done right, or even half right. They don't care, they don't even know why they're buying our products exclusively; in fact I don't know either, but then again,what's the point in looking a gift horse in the mouth?

Tobasco: But, we have so many opportunities to make things easier for ourselves by having lots of partners who do the dirty work and we just join the market and swamp it. And give them a niche just to keep Anti-trust from sticking their noses up our behinds. Why bother completely extinguishing a company when for just a small, negligible sacrifice of a few percent market share, we can guarantee an indefinite future, at least in the legal sense?

Gates: Because we can.

Tobasco: Is that it?

Gates: You can build a grand house out of the best materials and five hundred years later someone will knock it down to build a skyscraper, or it will be damaged by fire or it will be swallowed by an earthquake. IBM's mistake was that it tried to build a respectable institution that America could be proud of. But really, nobody gives a shit. People use patriotism for their own ends. Nobody appreciates another man's ideals even if they use the same basis, like patriotism. I mean, look at our customer base. They are so self righteous, but they totally ignore when they hear of our unethical business practices. They are just like, 'well, what can we do about it? May as well go with the flow!' IBM wasted so much potential profit on building up a family rapport with their employees, when really, as I say, nobody cares. Your shareholders are narrow-minded in that all they want at the end of the day is stock performance. They only care about themselves. Why should they care if Windoze is inefficient at Java threads so long as we sell more copies of Windoze? So what if Windoze is less productive than the Macintosh? We sell more, and people are afraid to buy Macs or SPARCstations or whatever. It all goes back to the non-existent compatibility syndrome. People love to force pragmatism on other people.They're always saying, 'it does the job, I don't care if Windoze looks butt-ugly or works like an asthmatic mule, it does the job it was designed to do.' They love to see tears of despair in other people's eyes. It's the same reason that parents say 'no' to their children all the time, or say, 'well, son, that's the realities of life. It's no bed of roses. Life is hard work,' and all that bullshit, then they go and play golf with their fucked friends and talk about Range Rovers and Ferraris and Mercedes-Benzes. That's shit. I've never had a hard day in my life. I work because I choose too. I could have retired at fucking twenty-five. If only people knew, difficulty is only in the mind - if you take the patience and humility to know your subject, all you have to do is to apply time to it. Even we at Microshaft have to take sometimes years to finish a project. But nothing was 'hard' for me - just fun and enthralling. The funny thing is, it's so easy to make life that little more pleasant. I mean, we have tonnes more Macintosh computers at Microshaft than Windoze machines. It's because we know they improve productivity and efficiency. Whereas our competiors, or at least our major ones, have more Windoze computers than Macs. We don't force people into buying and using Windoze machines - we don't even fool them into using them. Both of these strategies take effort that we could never afford. Instead, we make it easy to let them do the fooling - in essense, they fool themselves.

Tobasco: How can we let customers fool themselves if our software isn't made with quality in mind?

Gates: You're missing the point. I mean, when Windoze actually works properly, the users cry 'freedom, victory, fantastic' but when its rival operating systems do a better job of something, like multitasking or whatever, the user just defends Windoze, saying at least it does the job it was designed to do, and has the most software available for it. Doublethink works, it isn't just fiction or a creation of a writer's imagination. It works. And we're the only company to realize that. While other companies are boasting about the harsh realities of the world and being these no-nonsense guys, we also put on this show of pragmatism on the outside, but on the inside we're too clever to let slip a good idea, no matter how child-like or romantic or optimistic or innocent it seems. Apple will fail because it is like we are on both the inside and the outside. Nobody respects a company that displays hope and inspiration, or a company that employs artists, poets, musicians and so on. They want practicality and m acho, if you can see what I'm trying to get to.

Tobasco: So, our business survives on the illusion of pragmatism but the inner reality and acceptance within the company of optimism and quality?

Gates: Yes! You see, if our customers knew our 'secrets', we would be a much smaller company today. If our customers knew better, or had guts to buy better software, we wouldn't sell a damned thing. It's not because we can't do an operating system with the quality of the Mac or a NeXT, but simply we can't be bothered. It would take too much focussing over too long a period of time for just one project to get the quality of the Mac. I mean, yes, it has its flaws, but what software doesn't? -

Tobasco: NeXT's software.

Gates: Oh, yeah, well done... anyway, it took Apple a whole year just to shrink the size of the code down to almost half of its non-optimized length. To us, that's bad business. Why do that when you can have something so simplistic as MS-DOS - which wasn't even the result of the efforts of our programmers - being updated every six or so months and selling like hot cakes? We made more money in one year of DOS than Apple did in three or four with the Mac. I mean, people think we got a bargain when we got exclusive licencing for DOS, but really, we paid too much!

Tobasco: I hate to say it, but I think I see a serious flaw in our plans, here. You say - and I of course agree - that it would be a waste of time to do something like the quality of Mac. But, it's stuff like Mac which allows us to keep ahead of our competition - by using our competitor's products! But our whole aim is to go in for the hunt, therefore we should try to put Apple out of business, one day, and that will mean no more Macs! It's a viscious dilemma!

Gates: Not really, althought to your credit, I never heard anyone else say that to me before. My hats off to you - really. So, what I mean is that even if Mac development stopped tommorrow, it wouldn't matter. In fact, we haven't upgraded seriously in four years. I don't think we'll bother for a long, long, time. In fact, they're so good that if I were so vain as to think that the customer's needs were so important, I wouldn't make upgrading an implied compulsory necessity for running Windoze efficiently. I mean, do you really think anyone here at Microshaft really uses those new features of our operating systems or applications? No, we care more about the quality in which they are founded. That's why we use Macs. Fuck features, we just need efficient code and interfaces to do our jobs so that we don't go mad at the end of the day.

Tobasco: So why not just make Windoze at least behave like the Mac, even if it hogs the hard disk?

Gates: Because nobody will upgrade, then.

Tobasco: But you're going to have to, eventually. Even fifteen years isn't forever, and by then you will barely even think about retirement. So what do you do, then?

Gates: You don't do anything. As long as you have the required features and capabilites on Windoze, and that might take fifteen years, you'd never want to actually make people comfortable with what they have. If people are prepared to wait fifteen years for proper multitasking, they'll wait like drooling mutts for you to make Windoze work smoothly. Except we know that will never happen. We'd lose sales, then. I mean, what's happening is that some people are still using Macs that are ten fucking years old! An IBM PC more than four years old is trash! Is it any wonder that old Macs never die? You see why we use them? What good is it to us if the Mac or PC user buys the occasional hard disk or RAM expansion? We don't do that business. We never will, we're a software company, and we know that getting involved in other product lines can literally risk our success. So we don't play 'pretty boy' and try to expand the company's repertoire. I know universities that teach juggling, for goodness' sakes! Look at Oxford, they have a small repertoire, fifteen thousand students - the average American university has thirty thousand - and everything they teach is substantial and enlightening. So, to get back to the point, why give a dog two bones when he'll want to kiss your ass if you give him just the one?

Tobasco: But, you'll make him even happier and even more healthy.

Gates: Stiff shit! One bone, and he's your loyal servant. Two, and he still is your loyal servant, except you've spent twice the money, when you can save it for other things like a new car or swimming pool.

Tobasco: Won't people hate you for putting Apple out of business?

Gates: No, they'll hate Apple for letting themselves go out of business.

Tobasco: No, what I mean is, our reputation is such that it will be obvious who did it. The crime won't be an illegal one, we won't pull the trigger but people will cry foul. Our shares could have an isolated crash. Even you should worry about that.

Gates: Big fuck! Do you really think for a goddamned moment that people are going to actually let us drown with our victim? No way! First, as soon as they've heard that Apple's folded, they'll have a a fire sale of all their Macs, and go running into their local fucking Windoze PC retailer to order a whole fucking tonne of the ugliest Windoze computers they'll ever use. Secondly, they will be too afraid of being called 'softies' if they voice their sympathy for Apple in public. Businessmen like rugged, cold attitudes. 'That's the reality of business,' they say, smiling, thinking that they will have taught you something. In the end, people care only about themselves. Sure, they could save money long term and buy Unix and VAX workstations instead, but they're too fucked in the head to do that. What do you think powers our fucking Web site?

Tobasco: A VAX server!

Gates: Right! I mean, if anything, I've put in effort to make sure that we remain an invulnerable entity, by thoroughly checking every possible flaw in our business plan. I've even simulated it on a Cray supercomputer! We can't fail as long as we don't try too hard. Get it?

Tobasco: Yeah, but surely there must be something driving us, or you, some underlying philosophy or ideology. What is it?

Gates: Gee, do you have to keep coming back to that? You're sounding like a fucking Apple programmer, already! Don't you get it? Don't you understand? The whole meaning of everything we do? That you do? That I do? The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. The object of market share... is market share.

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