There are a few Microsoft fanbois (or is that fanboys?) among Shanghaiist staff. (Emphasis on few.) And not even they (well, notably this contributor) would deny that the glory days of the original MS-DOS came and went long ago, along with our snappy 286 computer and dazzling EGA monitor. But, maybe we’re all wrong. What’s old is new again, and DOS is making a comeback, along with bell bottom jeans and throwback jerseys. Walk around Beijing’s Bainaohui/百脑汇 (means “where a hundred brain/computer meets” .. clever, eh?) computer market, and you would find the latest engineering marvels, courtesy of folks at Intel and AMD, running on — you guessed it — MS-DOS.
WTF? Here is why. According to Shanghai Daily, starting yesterday, the Ministry of Information Industry (not to be confused with that other ministry which is in charge of “protecting the morals of expat bankers and their girlfriends”) has mandated that all PC manufacturers, foreign or domestic, must install legal software on all computers sold. Non-compliance would result in public disclosure of such dastardly acts (and a slap on the wrist, we presume). Not wanting to face such stiff penalties, many companies have decided to circumvent the new law by installing legal copies MS-DOS, which cost only a fraction of Win XP, with the thought that consumers would buy the pirated version of Win XP themselves, thereby completely absolving the companies of any responsibilities. Brilliant, simply brilliant! We are at a loss for words.
Microsoft is actually on the itinerary of President Hu Jintao’s upcoming visit to the US. How is he going to explain that one to Bill Gates? “What’s a couple of billiion dollars between friends?” We’d love to be a fly on the wall for that conversation.
You can read more about this story on Qianlong.com (in Chinese).