Dear Sir Bill…

Guy Kewney, a UK tech journalist, has encountered some particularly frustrating usability problems with Windows, which he is rather unhappy about.

Dear Sir Bill Gates,

Please find enclosed my invoice for £1,200 sterling for administrative and consulting work, caused by the need to repair Microsoft sabotage. I dare say you’d like details

6 thoughts on “Dear Sir Bill…

  1. I fired back a comment to The Register about this (although it’s a franchised article from Kewney’s own site) – it really made Kewney, an experienced IT journalist for decades, look like a newbie! Just chant the phrase “minimise your use of Microsoft products” and all will be well with the world :-)

    Things that Kewney could have done to avoid the problem:

    * Try an alternative OS (Linux or Mac OS), using Windows emulation if needed for a “must run this Windows app” scenario.

    * Minimise your use of Microsoft software. He doesn’t say what text editor it was (may be it was Notepad?), but use a text editor with auto-save facilities (the Easy Vim option of Windows vim is pretty good for example)! Yep, Kewney was using Internet Explorer, which may well erase the browser history on reboot for all I know – as an IT journo, why wasn’t he running Firefox? That also has a session-restoring extension if I remember correctly.

    * Check your automatic update settings. In the 18 months since I last installed Win XP Pro (never used XP Home, so I don’t know if that has an issue that Pro doesn’t), I turned off Automatic Updates completely and the *only* way I can get updates now is by going to Windows Update [the only time I’m irritatingly forced to IE!] manually. I reckon he’d done something like “download but don’t install” rather than “completely disable”, which are two different things (and one wonders if MS has a policy on the former to install “critical updates”?)!

    I think the problem here is that Kewney – who should know better – is stuck in his MS-drenched ways and can’t be bothered to see if there are superior alternatives out there to the default OS and apps you get with a shipped PC nowadays (answer: there are and as an experienced PC user, Kewney should know about these alternatives and use them wherever possible!). It was a weak blog posting that would be fine if the guy hadn’t written in PC mags for the last 30 years or so…

  2. Cute story, but he should have read the EULA ;)


    “Microsoft and its suppliers provide the Software and support services (if any) AS IS AND WITH ALL FAULTS, and hereby disclaim all other warranties and conditions, whether express, implied or statutory, including, but not limited to, any (if any) implied warranties, duties or conditions of merchantability, of fitness for a particular purpose, of reliability or availability, of accuracy or completeness of responses, of results, of workmanlike effort, of lack of viruses, and of lack of negligence, all with regard to the Software, and the provision of or failure to provide support or other services, information, software, and related content through the Software or otherwise arising out of the use of the Software.”

  3. Nitin: Firefox auto-update doesn’t force a reboot. It doesn’t even force a restart of Firefox; you can choose to restart later.

    Limulus: All software, even free software, says that. He’s not really trying to sue; he wants to make a point about arrogance in software design.

    eggz: Not necessarily; it depends if his browser saves History regularly or only on clean shutdown.

  4. I heard that the letter wasn’t written by Guy Kewney. It was written by a job applicant who happened to be in the same building at the time.

    As Bill Gates is a United States citizen, he doesn’t get to call himself Sir Bill Gates, just Bill Gates KBE.