Don€™t get on the wrong side of Vista.

We know Microsoft wants Vista to redefine computing. But perhaps we could have done without them taking the same chisel of creativity to the English language.

I’m talking about Windows Vista’s so-called and ridiculous “reduced functionality” mode, designed to cripple a non-activated install of the OS in the event it isn’t verified as genuine software within 30 days. Fail to do this, and nothing in the OS will work bar port 80 and Internet Explorer.

"Windows Vista will have a reduced functionality mode but one that is enhanced," says the company’s description of its new licensing technology, according to ZDNet’s Ed Bott. It’s a whole new concept of “ Enhanced Reduced Functionlity” and we should learn to fear it as much as we should learn to love Vista.

I’m not even going to bother calling it “Orwellian”, because that would be to invoke the over-used if apt concept of doublespeak. Hold on, I just called it Orwellian. Ok, it's Orwellian. Trying to analyse it makes one’s head spin. It’s enhanced insofar as it’s reduced, that is to say that is has been reduced but not so far that it can’t accommodate a degree of enhancement.

The phrase contains such portent within it. It’s pretty awful, but not so utterly bad as to be non-functioning. In other words, it is a bad situation but one that *could* have been worse so be thankful that’s it's not. And so by dint of not being worse, it's actually better after all. Got that?

Microsoft has form when it comes to linguistic contortion. One of my colleagues pointed out that the “Windows Genuine Advantage” program was probably not as good as it sounded because it turned out not to have any advantages that were “genuine”.

Any others examples worth adding to the list?

Here’s a longer cogitation on the subject that was brought to my attention recently. Many thanks for that.

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Copyright © 2006 IDG Communications, Inc.

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