We’ve never reposted an email before, but upon receiving the below from Brandt Dainow, we decided that because of its simplicity and clarity, it should be passed on uncut.
From:] On Behalf Of Brandt Dainow
Sent: Tuesday, May 16, 2017 13:20
Subject: Re: Wannacrypt and Digital Geneva Convention: should ISOC take a position?
Perhaps the comment wasn’t meant to be insulting, but it is, in my opinion, outrageous to call the average computer user “clueless.” I have observed such a contemptuous attitude amongst IT professionals towards the non-technical since I began working in IT in the 1970’s. It is unreasonable to expect the average consumer, or even company, to be technically competent in IT. We do not expect every company, no matter how small, to be able to maintain their own electricity supply, their cars, their plumbing, etc. Why should IT professionals expect computing to be different? If it was just an internal attitude, it would do no harm. But the reality is this expectation of expertise permeates IT design. Interfaces are hard for the average user because they come with many expectations from IT professionals, even basic skills like how to visually divide up the screen and identify commonalities in icons are not natural. There’s nothing “natural” about a mouse, it also takes practice and skill. The result of this expectation coupled with contempt is that computer systems are needlessly complicated, technical documentation is poor or completely lacking, and IT support costs are too high. No effort is made to simplify maintenance or use, all effort is focused on building new features, adding complexity, and trying to lock users into proprietary systems, against their own interest. We build the systems, we design the standards. If IT systems are too complicated for the average user, it’s not their fault, it’s ours.
The market structure then reinforces this. Why was Microsoft allowed to cease support for WinXP? Where do they get the right to dictate to the world what we do with products we have purchased and now own? Did Microsoft drop XP because it was trying to improve consumer conditions? No – they did it to force people to buy more products. If Microsoft desired to cease XP support, why did they prevent an industry of XP support developing by restricting access to the necessary code? If significant numbers of hospitals and government agencies depend on XP, Microsoft’s commercial selfishness endangered lives. Why does Microsoft prevent other companies issuing security patches for any version of Windows? They don’t restrict for the common good of society, they do it to make money, and the rest of society can rot as far as they are concerned. I completely understand Microsoft’s decision to cease XP support – I used to work in Microsoft support and know what it costs. But that doesn’t mean they couldn’t have licenced it out to others, and there certainly would have been an opportunity to make money doing so. IP and any other issues could have been easily handled – it happens all the time. If I had been given the opportunity to start a business running XP patching, with the existing user base out there, I could have obtained millions in start-up funding overnight – such a business is a no-brainer.
We have to stop treating OS’s and other software like optional consumer products and recognise that they are now essential services. We cannot allow software vendors to do whatever they like – force upgrades, withdraw support, etc. Free market ideas do NOT have any place here – there is no free market – who is my alternative supplier for Windows? A free market would have meant people could have shifted to another patch supplier when Microsoft dropped support for XP. When we will wake up and recognise that we are living under monopoly domination by selfish mega-corps who will act against our interests in order to make more profit? Companies like Microsoft are simply anti-capitalist. This pattern has been seen over and over in every new tech industry of the modern ear, going back at least to rail. The problem is always the same – consolidation into abusive monopolies, and the solution is always the same – government intervention, licencing and regulation.