Yet another delay in the launch of BritBreak's PC Centre has been brought on by the MD's recent appointment as business adviser to the Prime Minister.
Still, we confidently expect a launch in mid-March. Better news, though, on my plan to improve the IT department's image by giving scratch cards to users. Business is booming and Mike Rapton, the director, is going around with a big grin on his face.
It's surprising, then, that he might still bear a grudge against me, yet he has landed me with this year's poison chalice. Deciding whether BritBreak will adopt Windows 98, or pretend that it doesn't exist, as we have with Windows 95. A large company like BritBreak can easily insulate itself from the real world. Microsoft may not sell Windows 3.1 through PC World, but they're happy to take corporate money for thousands of copies.
The trouble is, whatever I decide, I will upset someone. This became horribly apparent as I canvassed opinion.
I started with the IT management team. Their preference was to stick with Windows 3.1 because "we know it and it's cheap". If forced to move, they'd rather have Windows 95, not because it's more stable, but because, on principle, they don't want users getting the newest thing on the market.
Sadly, most users who expressed a preference (the majority replied "an operating what?") were solidly behind Windows 98. Partly because there is more device support, partly for the improved user interface and partly (no, mostly) because they'd read a review that made it sound sexy.
Next the developers. Anyone familiar with programmers will not be surprised that I asked one question, and got an answer to another. Half reckoned we should cut over to NT, and half thought we should move to Unix. As if this wasn't bad enough, BritBreak's finance director cornered me outside the executive dining room and asked if I'd considered OS/2 Warp. It was mature, ran Java wonderfully and was cost-effective. I was puzzled. He had never before shown any interest in IT; now he was an expert. A quick check on the intranet provided the answer. The finance director recently joined the board of a certain large computer company.
At this point I was near giving up, but luckily my mentor from Slaughter McTone Regis called by and helped me out. To please the finance director we will set up a special OS/2 project. Plenty of activity, just nothing delivered. Then we will cut over to Windows 98. This keeps the users happy, no-one cares what the programmers think, so that only leaves the management team. As they clearly don't appreciate the benefits of Windows 98, we will install top-of-the-range PCs in their homes, with a wide selection of games. That way they and their families can experience Windows 98 and be won over. Some might see this as a bribe, but not the management team.
They're much too sophisticated.
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