A Great Gift

By Jim Rapoza  |  Posted 2008-06-24 Print this article Print

"Hi Bill," said a strange voice.

"What? Who's there? Clippy?"

"That's right, Bill," said Clippy. "You've been given a great gift. I'm going to show you what the world would be like if you had never been born."

"This is crazy," said Bill. "I know I shouldn't have gone out last night with the old Albuquerque crew.  I need to clear my head. I know-I'll go visit Paul's Experience Music Project."

"But, you can't," said Clippy. "The Experience Music Project doesn't exist. Paul Allen never met you in high school and never got into computers and made big bucks. All of the Seattle sports teams are in Oklahoma, and Paul plays guitar in a wedding band."

"Shut up, Clippy!" shouted Bill, stamping his feet and waving his fists. "You're just a figment of my imagination. We should have left you in Bob, where you belonged. I'm going to Redmond!"

But when Bill got to the place he once knew as Redmond, he couldn't believe what he saw.

"What's this? They've changed the name of Redmond to Mac Town?!"

"That's right, Bill," said Clippy. "Without you there to compete against, Steve Jobs was able to build his company into the most dominant, monopolistic and ruthlessly anti-competitive company that the world has ever seen. Now, nearly everyone uses a Mac, and while most people like the systems, they have few hardware and software options outside of what Steve allows."

"But, what about the open-source guys? They must be causing Steve headaches," said Bill hopefully.

"No, Bill," replied Clippy. "Without you and your company there to spur people to try their products, the open-source guys have been relegated to a small and pathetic group of losers who live on the fringes of computing."

"This is all wrong, Clippy! I just need to talk to someone else. I'll call ... Wait a second!" cries Bill, as he holds a device away from him like it was covered in maggots. M-m-m-my phone's an ... iPhone! Aaahhh!!!!"

"That's right, Bill," said Clippy, holding his arms under Bill, should he faint. "Without you, there's no Windows Mobile-there are no Windows operating systems at all. IBM ended up buying DOS and didn't do anything with it. There's no Office; everyone uses Lotus SmartSuite. There's no Internet Explorer, no Xbox. And Warren Buffett had to figure out on his own what to do with his money."

"I'm going crazy," said Bill. "I need help. I need to talk to Stevie B. Clippy? Clippy?! Where's Steve!"

Clippy hung what passed for his head. It took several minutes before he could answer Bill.

"You aren't going to like what you find Bill."

"Just tell me where he is, you, you ... office supply!"

"He's, he's at ... the convention center," Clippy blurted out.

Jim Rapoza, Chief Technology Analyst, eWEEK.For nearly fifteen years, Jim Rapoza has evaluated products and technologies in almost every technology category for eWEEK. Mr RapozaÔÇÖs current technology focus is on all categories of emerging information technology though he continues to focus on core technology areas that include: content management systems, portal applications, Web publishing tools and security. Mr. Rapoza has coordinated several evaluations at enterprise organizations, including USA Today and The Prudential, to measure the capability of products and services under real-world conditions and against real-world criteria. Jim Rapoza's award-winning weekly column, Tech Directions, delves into all areas of technologies and the challenges of managing and deploying technology today.

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