Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Here's Why I'm Grateful Microsoft Doesn't Build Airplanes. By Gene Marks, Contributor -Forbes.

By Gene Marks, Contributor -Forbes.

Last week one of my favorite technologists Bob Cringely complained on his blog about Microsoft’s Anytime Upgrade service.  He purchased the service so that his kids could play their favorite games on a Windows 7 PC that was missing a necessary component.  But Bob ran into a wall:  the service had been down for the past two days.

“I would have understood had the site really been down for maintenance as it says, but two days isn’t maintenance.” Cringely wrote in frustration. “It would have made better sense, too, had the fail screen not required me to every time submit all my information before telling me the site was unavailable. People who are headed to www.windows7.com/getkey are there for only one reason and if Microsoft knows that reason is unavailable, why not just put up a big OUT OF ORDER sign at the door and save us all some work? “

We all know this. We’ve all experienced this. Microsoft was established in 1975. That was 37 years ago. Yet still people and small businesses that purchase software nowadays run into bugs, down services, connection errors, poor quality and other productivity killers. I’m picking on Microsoft. And they deserve it. But so do other major players in the software industry: Apple, Google, Oracle, Sage. It’s not just Microsoft.

At the same time I finished reading (and sympathizing) with Cringely I found myself reading elsewhere that the airline industry had their safest year ever. USA Today reported that “U.S. airlines had 17 fatal accidents from 2000 through 2009, including the four planes lost during the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. That’s in comparison with 44 fatal accidents throughout the 1970s. U.S. airlines haven’t experienced a passenger death in a crash in four of the last five years. The exception was 2009, when a Colgan Air turboprop crashed near Buffalo on Feb. 12, leaving 50 dead.”

Maybe this safety trend is a reflection of a slower economy. There are less people to move. Less opportunities for problems. More excess resources to devote to safety. But the recession has affected the airline industry too. Despite cutting out meals and adding baggage fees, the industry has lost more than $54 billion over the past decade.

Yet even with these losses, the airline industry has figured out how to move millions of spoiled, complaining Americans like me every day inside of tens of thousands of flying metal tubes without killing a single person in four of the past five years. Meanwhile every time I reboot my PC I find myself crossing my fingers that it won’t hang mid-way or crash on me. Or praying to Jesus that I won’t lose what I wrote as I’m CTRL+ALT+DELETING Microsoft Word for the third time that day because it’s mysteriously conflicting with some other application on my computer. By the way: I’m Jewish. But I’ll convert to Christianity tomorrow if it’ll solve this problem.

Why is this? Of course, saving lives is the upmost of importance. But given our society’s increasing reliance on software, isn’t the disappearance of billions of dollars due to lost productivity as a result of malfunctions also near the top of our list of priorities? If the airlines have figured this out, can’t the software industry?

Of course they can.

Continued ... Read More: http://www.forbes.com

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