If Microsoft Made Software for Starfleet...

Published December 5, 2003

Written by Dan Carlson

Imagine for a moment that Microsoft somehow continued to make software into the Star Trek era. A horrifying prospect, I know...

  1. While beaming an away team down to a planet, the system would suddenly inform you: “Unable to continue due to insufficient memory. Please disconnect Transporter Buffer 1-3CG673-A to abort the process. You will lose any crew members currently stored in the matter stream.”
  2. Occasionally the system would shut down in deep space for no reason whatsoever, and your ship would have to be towed back to Spacedock to reboot.
  3. The latest upgrades for bioneural processors would include code last rewritten for the duotronic computers of the old Constitution class a century ago.
  4. In the middle of a battle with Jem’Hadar warships, your tactical officer’s console would suddenly be bombarded with spam from the embedded “Starship Messenger” feature, which would consume memory space until phasers were inoperable.
  5. The tactical officer’s “shield collapse,” “phaser overload,” and “warp core breach” alerts would be combined into a “general starship damage” message.
  6. Instead of announcing “intruder alert” and immediately pinpointing the invaders’ location, the computer would say, “An unknown crewman has been detected on the ship. Please run SCANDISK to confirm.” Meanwhile, the intruders are down on Deck 25, using the ship’s comm system to flood the subspace communications network with spam.
  7. You would have a choice of two versions of the OS: “Starship 2375 Home” and “Starship 2375 Pro.” The former would not let you perform common tasks such as scanning for life forms, launching quantum torpedoes, or docking at a Starbase. The latter could do all of these things, but would be twice as expensive.
  8. Neither system would come with a deflector shield module as part of the default installation. To install the shields, you’d have to access the controls from a waste extraction facility on Deck 39.
  9. Microsoft would announce a new “Digital Rights Management” initiative in partnership with Starfleet Command; unfortunately, you would be unable to receive any classified subspace communications without installing their DRM upgrade.
  10. Microsoft would also announce exciting “new” features developed specifically for their latest system, neglecting to mention that the Vulcans had had the same features back when Jonathan Archer was captain of the NX-01.
  11. While flying at warp, the “streaming starscape” view on the viewscreen would suddenly be replaced by a Blue Screen of Death.
  12. The Engineering computer would ask “Are you sure?” when instructed to eject a breaching warp core.
  13. All Starfleet shipyards would be given free copies of the system to install on every starship, but they wouldn’t be allowed to make any other kind of computer core.
  14. Bill Gates would be elected the new Grand Nagus of the Ferengi Alliance.
  15. Any alien races you make First Contact with will find your hails extremely garbled and unintelligible. This is because the Universal Translator had attempted to perform an illegal operation and was shut down.
  16. Microsoft would announce a pioneering new system to run Starbases called Windows Starbase Server 2378, but it would be repeatedly delayed until 2382.
  17. The only way to install the latest system on older starships like the Excelsior class would be to connect the isolinear chips directly to the warp core. But then, you’d be risking a plasma surge in the EPS conduits, and you’d only be able to fly at Warp 4 anyway.
  18. Because of increasing system requirements, Starfleet would be forced to retire the new Sovereign-class starships only two years after their launch.
  19. Microsoft would announce a new payment plan where Starfleet would be charged in advance for an operating system that hasn’t been released yet, and wouldn’t decrease if Starfleet started building fewer ships.
  20. Installing an upgrade would inexplicably rearrange the order of your decks, and it would take weeks to put them back in their place. In the mean time, Main Engineering doubles as a pre-school.
  21. Microsoft would be the target of a massive Federation Communications and Computers Council investigation and be sued for adopting anti-competitive, monopolistic policies, but these accusations would be suddenly abandoned following the election of a new Federation president.

This list was inspired by the famous If Microsoft Built Cars... list.