A two-page Microsoft ad in the 6 February issue of PC Magazine proudly features the classic Win9x & NT blue screen of death bordered by a dotted line and scissors icon, next to a boxed suggestion that one should cut the familiar screen out and save it for old times' sake after upgrading to Win2k Pro.
"If you find yourself missing the downtime, cut out and tape to monitor," the adjacent boxed text recommends.
Towards the bottom of the page we find the cheerful slogan, "Goodbye blue screen; hello reliable Microsoft." ('At last,' we're tempted to add.)
Windows 2000 Professional is "thirteen times more reliable than Windows 98", the advert proudly boasts, and directs readers to the NSTL Web site where independent test results supporting this claim may be evaluated.
Sure enough, mean time to failure (MTTF) tests for 98, NT and 2k show, among other things, that the heavily-sold consumer OS is hopelessly buggy and in fact eager to crash.
2K wins the competition hands down with a respectable MTTF of 2893 hours (actually sounds like a professional product, doesn't it). NT showed considerable anaemia, struggling for an MTTF of 919 hours, while the crap OS most of you are using as you read this article, Win9x, exhibited a predictable, consumer-schlock MTTF of only 216 hours.
Microsoft reckons you'd better get rid of those nasty NT and '9x desktops fast. A Win2k Pro upgrade is their solution for disgusted NT users, and can be had for less than $200 per machine. Unlucky '9x users will have to wait for the consumer edition of this nifty, and finally reliable, OS - called Whistler - which is due out towards the end of this year.
Unfortunately for Harry Homeowner, but fortunately for MS, nothing can be done with '9x to make it reliable in the mean time, so he simply has to buy Whistler if he wishes to experience the joys of a (finally) "reliable Microsoft".
The '9x code base was crap to begin with, and crap it remains. But no one can accuse us of MS-bashing here; the company's own ad campaign makes precisely that assertion.
And offers the test results to prove it, too. ®