When Microsoft Windows first came out, and computers started to become a household item, we didn’t always know how best to use our new toy. Some of us had modems and dialed up to on-line services like the one I use to run (the most popular of which was AOL).
The biggest problem with the on-line world at the time was that not everyone was connected to each other thru the Internet, so you had to establish a sperate connection to each on-line site you wanted to visit; using your phone line and their phone number. Of course us geeks didn’t see this as an obstacle or problem that made it too un-user-friendly to use, but rather as a fun way to use our new computers.
Back then, most people got a new computer to serve a specific purpose. Perhaps they needed a word processor, or an accounting program, or maybe they just wanted the latest in trendy, expensive, big-boy toys. When they were done using their word processors and other programs, however, what did this big expensive piece of electrons have to offer? Well thanks to Microsoft, we all found ourselves playing Solitaire.
I first used Windows at version 3.11 in the mid 90’s, which came with some wonderful new networking tools. Of course I stuck with using my top of the line 28.8kbs modem for most of my amusement, but I also found some new fun games to play, including Solitaire and Minesweeper. The hours I wasted playing solitary could have been spent so much more productively, but there I was mindlessly addicted to playing this new game that seemed so amazing at the time.
Yesterday, I was sitting around in a waiting room, with my Palm Treo 700p, and what was I doing with it? You guessed it. Playing Solitaire. I stopped for a second and thought about it. Did I really like this game, or was I just so use to playing it that I was habitually drawn to it out of boredom? I started to realize how stupid this game really is. It was a boring, stupid, mindless game that even the most skilled players cannot possibly hope to win at it even half of the time.
I had gotten so use to playing it that it was almost like an addiction, a habit, or even a reflex. Was this Microsoft’s marketing strategy? Give them a small free something to make the computer seem fun? Make Windows seem like the best operation system out there despite it’s inefficiencies and instabilities, by giving you a dinky little game that made you feel the need to use your Windows operated computer whenever you were board; to the point that being on the computer was a habit, or even a reflex.
Thanks Microsoft. Thanks for nothing.