There was a knock on the door. It was the man from Microsoft.
“Not you again,” I said.
“Sorry,” he said, a little sheepishly. “I guess you know why I’m
Indeed I did. Microsoft’s $300 million campaign to promote the
Windows 95 operating system was meant to be universally effective, to
convince every human being on the planet that Windows 95 was an essential,
some would say integral, part of living. Problem was, not everyone had
bought it. Specifically, I hadn’t bought it. I was the Last Human Being
Without Windows 95. And now this little man from Microsoft was at my door,
and he wouldn’t take no for an answer.
“No,” I said.
“You know I can’t take that,” he said, pulling out a copy of Windows
95 from a briefcase. “Come on. Just one copy. That’s all we ask.”
“Not interested.” I said. “Look, isn’t there someone else you can go
bother for a while? There’s got to be someone else on the planet who
doesn’t have a copy.”
“Well, no,” The Microsoft man said. “You’re the only one.”
“You can’t be serious. Not everyone on the planet has a computer,” I
said. “Hell, not everyone on the planet has a PC! Some people own
Macintoshes, which run their own operating system. And some people who
have PCs that run OS/2, though I hear that’s just a rumor. In short, there
are some people who just have no use for Windows 95.”
The Microsoft man look perplexed. “I’m missing your point,” he said.
“Use!” I screamed. “Use! Use! Use! Why BUY it, if you can’t USE it?”
“Well, I don’t know anything about this ‘use’ thing you’re going on
about,” The Microsoft man said. “All I know is that according to our
records, everyone else on the planet has a copy.”
“People without computers?”
“Got ’em.”
“Amazonian Indians?”
“We had to get some malaria shots to go in, but yes.”
“The Amish.”
“Oh, come on,” I said. “They don’t even wear BUTTONS. How did you get
them to buy a computer operating system?”
“We told them there were actually 95 very small windows in the box,”
the Microsoft man admitted. “We sort of lied. Which means we are all
going to Hell, every single employee of Microsoft.” He was somber for
a minute, but then perked right up. “But that’s not the point!” he
said. “The point is, EVERYONE has a copy. Except you.”
“So what?” I said. “If everyone else jumped off a cliff, would you
expect me to do it, too?”
“If we spent $300 million advertising it? Absolutely.”
“Jeez, back to that again,” the Microsoft man said. “Hey. I’ll tell
you what. I’ll GIVE you a copy. For free. Just take it and install it
on your computer.” He waved the box in front of me.
“No,” I said again. “No offense, pal. But I don’t need it. And
frankly, your whole advertising blitz has sort of offended me. I mean,
it’s a computer operating system! Great. Fine. Swell. Whatever. But
you guys are advertising it like it creates world peace or something.”
“It did.”
“World peace. It was part of the original design. Really. One button
access. Click on it, poof, end to strife and hunger. Simple.”
“So what happened?”
“Well, you know,” he said. “It took up a lot of space on the hard
drive. We had to decide between it or the Microsoft Network. Anyway,
we couldn’t figure out how to make a profit off of world peace.”
“Go away,” I said.
“I can’t,” he said. “I’ll be killed if I fail.”
“You have got to be kidding,” I said.
“Look,” the Microsoft man said, “We sold this to the AMISH. The
Amish! Right now, they’re opening the boxes and figuring out they’ve been
had. We’ll be pitchforked if we ever step into Western Pennsyvania
again. But we did it. So to have YOU holding out, well, it’s
embarassing. It’s embarassing to the company. It’s embarassing to the
product. It’s embarassing to BILL.”
“Bill Gates does not care about me,” I said.
“He’s watching right now,” the Microsoft man said. “Borrowed one of
those military spy satellites just for the purpose. It’s also got one
of those high-powered lasers. You close that door on me, zap, I’m a
pile of grey ash.”
“He wouldn’t do that,” I said, “He might hit that copy of Windows 95
by accident.”
“Oh, Bill’s gotten pretty good with that laser,” the Microsoft man
said, nervously. “Okay. I wasn’t supposed to do this, but you leave me
no choice. If you take this copy of Windows 95, we will reward you
handsomely. In fact, we’ll give you your own Caribbean island! How does
Montserrat sound?”
“Terrible. There’s an active volcano there.”
“It’s only a small one,” the Microsoft man said.
“Look,” I said, “even if you DID convince me to take that copy of
Windows 95, what would you do then? You’d have totally saturated the
market. That would be it. No new worlds to conquer. What would you do
The Microsoft man held up another box and gave it to me.
“‘Windows 95….For Pets’?!?!?”
“There’s a LOT of domestic animals out there,” he said.
I shut the door quickly. There was a surprised yelp, the sound of a
laser, and then nothing.


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