The Second Coming Has Arrived

Gates and Windows 95 are among us, Alleluia

The hype surrounding the release of Microsoft's Windows 95 operating system has been unparalleled, and so disappears the line between reportage and millions of dollars in free advertising for the Seattle-area company. Some industry wags have proposed renaming the information superhighway to the information superGatesway, in honor of Microsoft's ubiquitous CEO. Once again, the computer industry, in its odd blend of religious imagery and marketing, is setting us up for another cycle of diminished expectations. Who could possibly be satisfied with a product earning more press than probably would the simultaneous return of Jesus Christ, Mohammed and Buddha? Windows 95 is merely a replacement, an "upgrade," in the industry's parlance, for a cumbersome operating system clearly inferior -- in execution -- to Apple's.

Perhaps biblically, the information society in America now looks to the West for guidance and prophecy. It must be asked, then, what of Apple, which has been so eclipsed in the Windows 95 hype it seems destined never to recover. In Washington, Apple never made the definitive move into information systems for the government market; perhaps it can make strides in the states and cities, as the locus of service to the citizen moves away from inside the Beltway.

And what, O Western oracles (no pun intended) are we to make of the Microsoft Network? Once again, the media, which seems to be growing ever more ignorant of what's really going on in the information industry, is claiming the Gates venture is a replacement for the Internet, as if the two concepts were reductionary. It is time to remember the true definition of a computer geek: One who is enamored with a technology in opposite proportion to the technology's application and value to business, society, government, whatever. Our popular media, bless them, is descending into geekdom.

We guarantee that when people install Windows 95 in their PCs, boot them up, move some stuff around, and send in their registration cards, that the war in Bosnia will end, the sun will rise (but tomorrow, through an object-oriented SVGA GUI), and the O.J. trial will move to a swift conclusion with or without Ito.

Give us Barabbas.


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