As part of my job, I’m responsible for system design. The easiest way to represent these is with flowcharts for the overall process, as well as the interaction of various systems. The de facto standard for flowcharts is Microsoft Visio. Since my project is only in design phase for a short time and the retail price for the standard version is $200, I chose to “try” the Trial Version of Visio for August. (In my former job, my employer provided Visio as a standard workstation installation. Since I’m now paying the bill, it’s not standard.)
When I installed it, I received this message. I wouldn’t normally expect to get into a battle of semantics with Microsoft, but I must when reading their statement that “This copy will expire on August 31, 2004”. Like any reasonable person who knows English, I understood this to mean that I can use the Trial Version until 11:59 pm on August 31st. I was mistaken. When I started Visio on Tuesday, I saw this message. That isn’t what I wanted to see. Microsoft and I agreed that I could use the software through the 31st, but they broke our deal and I’m none too pleased about it.
In the past I’ve been a supporter of Microsoft. I don’t believe that being a monopoly is bad as an objective reality. When a company earns it, it’s free enterprise at its best. Even though Microsoft went too far and strong-armed competitors, I don’t mind a few violations of the rules of competition as long as they don’t mess with the English language. There I have to draw the line.
For my last use of Visio, I created a flowchart to represent the Trial Version evaluation process. Even though I will not purchase Visio, it’s a great product. See for yourself and guess which path I chose at the decision point.