Greg Swann has been writing about his frustrations with monopoly software vendors, and now it’s my turn. A few months ago, I purchased a new x61 tablet PC from Lenovo. When I purchased it, I had no choice but to order Vista Business with it. From the moment I booted the tablet, I’ve had nothing but problems. Despite having 2 GB of RAM and the latest dual-core ULV processor from Intel, the thing has been nothing but a dog. Worse, it’s a dog that barfs on my shoes about once a day, and then stares back it me with this really big blue eye.
In July, we had our annual client Summit and I was about to present to 80 people when I slipped in a USB drive to play a video for them only to watch in horror as Vista froze and failed to re-boot. The thing was toast. We had to get another laptop for the presentation, and I went through the rest of the Summit without a laptop. Only after it was all over was I able to spend time to recover it. Of course, these days no one ships disks with the computers you buy and so I had to figure out how to recover it without a disk, because I certainly wasn’t smart enough to burn the ever-necessary recovery disk.
Since then, I’ve struggled and limped along, basically enduring the agony because I don’t have six or eight hours to rebuild the OS or whatever it will take. This afternoon, however, I thought I saw the light. One of my co-workers knew of my woes and sent me a link from CNET indicating that Lenovo was providing a “downgrade” option for those frustrated with Vista. I was psyched by this, because it seemed far easier than trying to get Vista to work.
So, I called Lenovo and asked them to ship me the downgrade:
“Sure,” they said, “can we have your credit card number?”
“For what?”, I responded.
“Sir, the downgrade costs $45.”
First, silence, then, with Greg’s blog posts rolling around in my head, I muttered, “that’s morally objectionable.”
(Actually, I was thinking, why didn’t I buy a Mac? Oh, yeah, Apple doesn’t have a tablet.)
“Seriously, you want me to pay to fix your problem? I bought the extra warranty already, doesn’t that get me something?”
“No, the downgrade costs $45. What’s your credit card number?”
“I’m not giving you one, please transfer me to your supervisor.”
“There’s nothing he can do for you either, sir, is there anything else I can do for you today to make you happy?”
“Sure, send me the XP disks.”
“Can I have your credit card number?”
“No, transfer me to your supervisor.”
Around and around this went, with me finally getting to a supervisor, only to hit the same brick wall. I finally said, “Look, I’ll pay the $45 but first I want you to say that Microsoft and Lenovo suck and charging me the $45 is illegal and morally objectionable.”
“Sir, I can say that Vista has issues but I can’t say the rest.”
I said, “Sure you can, just do it and we can end this call.”
He responded, “If you pay me a million dollars, I’ll say it, but not for $45.”
“I knew this was all about money. Alright, here’s my credit card . . . I hope AMEX doesn’t question this million dollar charge.”
If Microsoft was not a monopoly, they’d be apologizing every day for the piece of crap they unleashed in Vista on the world. Instead, they blithely believe it is okay to charge people to downgrade. This hubris will be their downfall.
Update: For proof that Microsoft is not alone in its hubris, check out Phil Hoover’s post on his experience with the iPhone.