Eric vs. the Redmond Baron

FRAMINGHAM (07/03/2000) - Scene 1: Late 1999. In a bunker somewhere near the enemy lines, Wing Commander Eric "Clean Sweep" Schmidt briefs his flight squadron:

Schmidt: "OK chaps, this is the big one. That plucky blighter the Redmond Baron is off fighting on a different front against the forces of Colonel Janet (Buster) Reno. So while he's busy, we're going to do a raid on his user base.

Any questions, chaps?"

Anonymous pilot: "Wing Commander, sir - we don't know how to fly, we only have one plane between us, but we do have the best global directory service. So what should we do?"

Schmidt: "Hmm, damn fine question. Let me think. . . . Ah, yes, er, why don't you run around with your arms outstretched making aircraft noises? If those enemy devils should see you, they'll either be fooled or be so bemused that we'll slow 'em down."

All pilots: "Rightho, sir, vroooom, vrooooom, vrooom, ga-dug-a-dug-a-dug-a."

Scene 2: Later 1999. We see the giant bomber/fighter/apartment building/zeppelin named "Windows 2000" taxiing out of its mind-bendingly immense hanger. It is incredibly huge with hundreds of propellers, dozens of wheels and thousands of windows but no pilot and no ground crew. Passengers mill around trying to figure out whether they want to fly in it, because although it's clean and shiny, it has wires and bits of machinery hanging out of it. Surrounding the machine are hundreds of flight attendants and dozens of members of the press recording everything.

Flight attendants: "Come on, get in! This is a fine machine, it will take you wherever you want to go (where did you want to go today?). Come on, get in; you know you want to!"

Bill, the Redmond Baron: "Chocks a-vey, ve vill crush ze enemy! Death to all of zer nonbelievers!"

The giant craft trundles down the incredibly long runway and 20 hours later, Windows 2000 leaves the ground. . . .

Scene 3: Mid-2000. Dawn. We see a handful of immaculately turned-out engineers in red overalls preparing Schmidt's only plane, "NetWare," a sleek, highly efficient machine. With a nonchalant wave of his hand, Schmidt turns his plane into the wind, switches on the afterburners and disappears with the speed of a bullet shot from a gun.

Later . . . high above enemy territory (of which there's a hell of a lot more of than in Scene 1), Wing Commander Schmidt can see a speck that can be only one thing: The Redmond Baron's gigantic craft.

Schmidt attacks swiftly and with a glint of grim determination in his eye, peppers Windows 2000 with user testimonials about how great NetWare is, then peels away for a second pass.

But wait! Something is wrong! The Redmond Baron has fired a marketing salvo at NetWare and, it can't be - NetWare is going down! Oh no, the humanity!

Schmidt wrestles to pull NetWare's nose up and, at the last second, manages to clear the treetops by inches. But wait again! As NetWare tries to gain altitude, the G-forces are too much!

Look! The G-forces are tearing off NetWare's wings and, just before the craft begins to dig a deep furrow in the fields of oblivion, we can hear Wind Commander Schmidt's defiant cry: "Curse you, Redmond Baron. I shall return to fight you another day . . . it may not be in NetWare but I shall return!"

The Redmond Baron looks wearily at the furrow created by NetWare many feet below and laughs quietly. "Votever" he mutters and goes back to counting his money.

Tune in next week for another exciting episode, in which we get to hear Reno try to explain how spending as much money as the GDP of Bolivia in an attempt to find "the truth" about Microsoft Corp. was a good idea.

Falsehoods to nwcolumn@

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