Once upon a time in the land of times past, when things like music, newspapers, books and computer software still came as physical products, if something went awry you could do something about it. In the age of digital delivery because that stuff no longer exists, when something does die, you're up the data stream withour a binary load lifter.
Yesterday, the CPU in my computer decided that it was too good for this world and rather than getting the blue screen of death, I got a red screen of doom. After getting my computer back from the shop, I've had the task of bringing it back to life, which was mostly easy, except for trying to download a copy of Microsoft Office 2010.
The pack for Office 2010 is a plastic sleeve thing with a card with the product key printed on; that's it. Office 2010 was probably the first version of Office to be delivered digitally and whilst that was probably fine for a new set of computers, now that they are at least five years old, it is a nightmare.
As I type this, the current attempt (number six) at downloading Office 2010 tells me that there is anything between 3 and 6 hours to download it. On every occasion thus far, I've either encountered a fatal exception error, or a storm, or some other weird reason why I can't finish the download. All I want is a working machine.
All of the other programs I have such as Windows 7, HandiSoft, MYOB, even the drivers for the printer and scanner all come on physical disc. Office didn't ; what's worse is that neither do its replacements.
Office 365 is only digitally delivered and the point is that if I can't get Office 2010 to download properly, then what's to say that Office 365 which comes from the same company will be any different at all?
There is a lovely slap in the face from Microsoft as well. When I tried to order a backup DVD, it quoted the price to be as £11.63 which means that its sourced from the UK but when I clicked 'Add' so I could get a Backup DVD sent to me, it returns this message:
You do not have any Backup DVDs
Yes. I know that I do not have any Backup DVDs. That's why I just tried to order a Backup DVD. I would like a Backup DVD so that I no longer do not have any Backup DVDs.
As I type this, the download speed has fallen to 8.3KB/s and is now returning an estimate of 6 days to download Office 2010. In that time, I could fly all the way to the UK and get my Backup DVD for £11.63 and still be back before it would be finished downloading.
When digital delivery is even slower than actually flying halfway around the world and picking up the physical product yourself, I start to think that this is all a nonsense.
Dear Microsoft, If you want to know why software piracy is rampant, then maybe it's worth considering that even Captain Oakenface with a wooden peg for a head, is capable of faster delivery of product than legitimately downloading the software.
If your car crashed and you needed replacement parts, you can find them relatively easily. Heck you could probably fabricate them yourself if the need arose. If Microsoft built a motor car, it would do 460mph, crash every eight minutes and in order to restart, you'd have to open and close the windows and press the start button repeatedly.
Stuff like this makes me hate the cloud with a passion and I really despair as I look to the world of 2053 when I'll be 75 years old and sitting in on the floor in my house because all the devices will have crashed and there's no software to even run the toaster.
That whole dystopia in Battlestar Galactica where The Twelve Colonies are in a war with the cybernetic race known as the Cylons is never going to happen. That assumes that there is a working internet and that download speeds are sufficiently fast enough so that the software is capable of being updated or recovered in a crash. That's never going to happen.