The Last Holdout

(This wasnt written by me or about me. But it might as well have been.)

There was a knock on the door. It was the man from Microsoft. Not you again, I said.

Sorry, he said, a little sheepishly. I guess you know why Im here.

Indeed I did. Microsofts $300 million campaign to promote the Windows 95 operating system was meant to be universally effective, to convince every human being on the planet that Windows 95 was an essential, some would say integral, part of living. Problem was, not everyone had bought it. Specifically, I hadnt. I was the Last Human Being Without Windows 95. And now this little man from Microsoft was at my door, and he wouldnt take no for an answer.

No, I said.

You know I cant take that, he said, pulling out a copy of Windows 95 from a briefcase. Come on. Just one copy. Thats all we ask.

Not interested, I said. Look, isnt there someone else you can go bother for a while? Theres got to be someone else on the planet who doesnt have a copy.

Well, no, the Microsoft man said. Youre the only one.

You cant be serious. Not everyone on the planet has a computer, I said. And certainly, not everyone has a PC! Some people own Macintoshes, which run their own operating system. And some people who have PCs run OS/2, though I hear thats just a rumor. In short, there are some people who just have no USE for Windows 95.

The Microsoft man look perplexed. Im missing your point, he said.

Use! I screamed. Use! Use! Use! Why BUY it, if you cant USE it?

Well, I dont know anything about this use thing youre going on about, the Microsoft man said. All I know is that according to our records, everyone else on the planet has a copy.

People without computers?

Got em.

Amazonian Indians?

We had to get some malaria shots to go in, but yes.

The Amish?


Oh, come on, I said. They dont even wear BUTTONS. How did you get them to buy a computer operating system?

We told them there were actually 95 very small windows in the box, the Microsoft man admitted. We sort of lied. Which means we are all going to Hell, every single employee of Microsoft. He was somber for a minute, but then perked right up. But thats not the point! he said. The point is, EVERYONE has a copy. Except you.

So what? I said. If everyone else jumped off a cliff, would you expect me to do it, too?

If we spent $300 million advertising it? Absolutely.


Oh, back to that again, the Microsoft man said. Hey. Ill tell you what. Ill GIVE you a copy. For free. Just take it and install it on your computer. He waved the box in front of me.

No, I said again. No offense, pal, but I dont NEED it. And frankly, your whole advertising blitz has sort of offended me. I mean, its a computer operating system. Great. Fine. Swell. Whatever. But you guys are advertising it like it creates world peace or something.

It did.


World peace. It was part of the original design. Really. One button access. Click on it, poof, end to strife and hunger. Simple.

So what happened?

Well, you know, he said. It took up a lot of space on the hard drive. We had to decide between it or the Microsoft Network. Anyway, we couldnt figure out how to make a profit off of world peace.

Go away, I said.

I cant, he said. Ill be killed if I fail.

You have got to be kidding, I said.

Look, the Microsoft man said, We sold this to the Amish. The Amish! Right now, theyre opening the boxes and figuring out theyve been had. Well be pitchforked if we ever step into Western Pennsyvania again. But we did it. So to have YOU holding out, well, its embarassing. Its embarassing to the company. Its embarassing to the product. Its embarassing to Bill.

Bill Gates does not care about me, I said.

Hes watching right now, the Microsoft man said. Borrowed one of those military spy satellites just for the purpose. Its also got one of those high-powered lasers. You close that door on me, zap, Im a pile of grey ash.

He wouldnt do that, I said. He might hit that copy of Windows 95 by accident.

Oh, Bills gotten pretty good with that laser, the Microsoft man said nervously. Okay. I wasnt supposed to do this, but you leave me no choice. If you take this copy of Windows 95, we will reward you handsomely. In fact, well give you your own Caribbean island! How does Montserrat sound?

Terrible. Theres an active volcano there.

Its only a small one, the Microsoft man said.

Look, I said, even if you DID convince me to take that copy of Windows 95, what would you do then? Youd have totally saturated the market. That would be it. No new worlds to conquer. What would you do then?

The Microsoft man held up another box and gave it to me.

Windows 95… For Pets?!?!?

Theres a LOT of domestic animals out there, he said.

I shut the door quickly. There was a surprised yelp, the sound of a laser, and then nothing.

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