It's hard not to admire Microsoft's pluck, doggedness, stubbornness, and well, stark raving madness really. What other company could stand calmly in the middle of a Windows 98 PR disaster and argue that it's right and the whole world is wrong - still wrong, in fact.
Two weeks ago Microsoft maintained that the "problems" that flooded in from new Win98 users were little more than a ripple (Microsoft speak for "tidal wave") and that there was no real problem loading or upgrading to Windows 98. Obviously all those thousands of users around the globe suffering from, blue screen, no drivers, disabled peripherals and Novell unfriendly Windows 98, were undercover staff of Apple and barking to boot.
In fact, it's because there's "no problem" with Windows 98 that the world's leading PC manufacturers all panicked in unison last week. Dell, Compaq, IBM, Gateway and others all produced lists of their PCs that are allergic to poorly tested operating systems, and made lists of drivers and products that may experience the odd hiccup when Win98 is in the vicinity. Considering that these vendors have had access to Windows 98 longer than the public, why did it take a general outcry for them to provide information that they already had? Dell, for instance, recommends against putting Windows 98 on 10 of its 14 Latitude notebooks and 13 of the 27 desktop models listed on its Web site. Despite all of this, Microsoft is still shrugging and saying "it's not all that bad" - images of a drunk Nero pirouetting around the palace while Rome burnt spring to mind.
At this stage, most companies would come out and admit that there is a serious problem and it's going to do everything it can to resolve it.
Microsoft's solution is to delay the launch of the first Service Pack.
Originally due before the end of the summer - this pack would have contained Band-Aids for the Win98 bugs, multimedia tweaks and new DirectX software.
In its wisdom, Microsoft is to pull out many of these nice features and deliver a new Service Pack in September - maybe. Well, it's not as if there's any urgent need for Win98 help, is there?
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