An Open Letter to Microsoft

Paul Heinlein
First published on August 20, 2003
Last updated on September 28, 2004

Note: I first published this letter to the Portland Linux/Unix Group mailing list.

Dear Messrs. Gates and Ballmer,

I know that many people grumble about the worms and viruses that have frequently exploited features and vulnerabilities in your widely used Windows operating environment and Office productivity suite.

Personally, I don’t use Windows or Office, so I’m unfit to comment on the grumblings of end users.

As an IT professional, however, I don’t understand the cynicism and eye rolling among my colleagues. They’re always grumbling and forever pointing out that Macintosh and Unix systems aren’t vulnerable to these attacks. My opinion is that all those worms and viruses are to be welcomed, for a number a reasons:

  • The thanks expressed by users and managers after I rescue them time after time from Windows exploits gives me wonderful self-esteem. (Unlike those thankless Macintosh and Unix users who never need saving from viruses—ever.)

  • When a virus or worm hits the Internet, I am completely free from tasks that require true thought or creativity—or that add any value to my employer’s business. Instead, I get to daydream while going from workstation to workstation applying patches and cleaning up after the exploit.

  • After the imminent threat has passed, I get to provide some great statistics—including pie charts!—to the company managers. It’s just about the only opportunity the IT staff ever gets to show off pie charts.

  • Since viruses and worms are difficult to understand, my job seems all the more mysterious, raising its perceived (and monetary) value.

  • The same thing can be said about making sense of all the patches, service packs, and hot fixes your company releases. Only a true IT professional really knows which ones are necessary, which ones won’t crash Windows, etc.

  • The continued success of the anti-virus industry provides more IT employment opportunities and in general raises the value of tech stocks.

Surely there are other things that could be added to this list, but you’re busy men, and I shouldn’t take up too much of your time.

Again, as an IT professional, I encourage you to keep up the good work. Others may grumble about the waste of time and productivity, but I know who’s buttering my bread!

Thank you.