Suspicious Fire Destroys Microsoft Building

Fake News written by Justin Morgan on Sunday, February 13, 2005

from the the-ultimate-flame-war dept.

REDMOND, WA -- Earlier today, a building located deep within the bowels of the Microsoft Campus was destroyed by a fire of unknown origin. The blaze reportedly started at 2 AM, when the building was thankfully devoid of all human life (and Microsoft lawyers). Bureaucracy Wing #23, Lawsuit Documents Backup Storeroom #63, and Dancing Office Assistants Training Center #3 were all totally destroyed.

The fire alarm was set off immediately -- not by the fire, but by a bug in Microsoft's own Audible Basic .NET alarm system. It took just two and a half hours for the Microsoft General Protection Fault Investigator to respond by signing the numerous administrative authorization documents, 78 of which were short-term patent license agreements for the firefighting technology.

Conspiracy theorists have already speculated that the monopoly wanted to let their HQ burn so that they could build a new one with all the extra cash they just received from the MPAA and RIAA to put subliminal anti-piracy messages in one of their recently acquired video games.

The Microsoft Emergency Action Committee took a record time of three hours to decide on the right course of action. It was then just five hours before firefighters arrived at the scene, who promptly went off and had a picnic on the shores of Lake Washington. The fire was actually extinguished by specially-commissioned helicopters about an hour later, who were supposedly seen to be throwing out assorted CD media, aerosols, posters of penguins, gas cans, and Palm PDAs into the fire long before releasing any water.

Bill Gates, just arriving from a European meeting of the International Cartel For Promoting Software Patents, strode down one of his favorite entrance paths (his Microsoft Way), staring at the burning building in the distance.

"I used to like Bureaucracy Wing #23," he mumbled to himself, "It had a novel ventilation system," he explained when he noticed that one of our reporters had overheard him. "I'll miss it."

Mr. Gates was informed of the odd practices of the fire service: sending a brigade of firefighters who didn't do anything, then reportedly throwing on inflammable materials, and only then putting the fire out.

"It's our policy," he replied, "Embrace. Extend. Then Extinguish."

Those that got their head round the whole brouhaha started looking into the causes of the fire.

"It is quite clear to us," said a spokesmanoid who had got his head round the whole brouhaha, "that the cause of the Redmond blaze was paperwork. An independent Apple-sponsored study has shown that if the administrative paperwork from Microsoft was put into one stack, it would reach half as far as the moon -- that's nearly a quarter of the way around Bill Gates' bank account. It would take only a small electrostatic spark or a brief vi versus emacs debate and the whole lot would go..." He gestured vaguely with his hands to indicate how exactly the whole lot would 'go'.

Sun Microsystems was quick to make a statement: "There's no doubt that the bureaucracy of all large corporations nowadays is spiraling out of control. Our studies show that Microsoft alone has contributed to at least 15% of the destruction of the natural environment through unnecessary paperwork. The text of all their patents combined is nearly 50 million words long. That's equivalent to over 12 Libraries of Congress."

"Or 17 internal revenue codes," someone else added to put things into perspective.

"Sun, on the other hand, has invested millions into cutting out the red tape. We estimate that we saved 20 million trees by removing the phrase 'network infrastructure' from our departmental reports and key note speeches, and forty thousand by deleting every twenty-fifth word on each of our web pages. And you can't even tell the difference!"

"Microsoft expects people to read over three thousand words for the terms and conditions of their website alone," a Novell employee told us, "Over two thousand for the privacy statement. And the EULA for XP Home is nearly a thousand words longer than the US Constitution. Combined, that's as many lengths of the Lord's Prayer as there are vulnerabilities in MS Solitaire."

Later, Steve Ballmer, CEO of the company, arrived on site, passing the firefighters' picnic briefly to confiscate a basket of fruit while muttering "Apples? At a time like this?" He made his way to HQ and one of our reporters waited just inside the door of Bloat Think-Tank Room #79 to accost him by surprise.

"Argh!" he screamed, "What was that? Quick! Patent it!" After seeing that it was just a paparazzi, he calmed down and composed himself. When asked for his feelings on the matter of the fire, he replied: "I'm not concerned. A burning building isn't half as serious as a patent violation, after all."

After the fire was finally extinguished, firefighters soon discovered the first non-human victim: the Microsoft Office Assistant.

It is a little known fact that the Office Assistant is -- or was -- a real entity. Of course, like all of Microsoft's products, it wasn't created by Microsoft, but rather started its life as a failed experiment at the California Institute of Technology, who were researching dancing polymorphic helper-robots in the early 1990s. All of the experiments went horribly wrong, however, as the robots became too frustrating and unhelpful, and so it was that Caltech prepared to put the project on the scrapheap.

However, Bill Gates himself, who was visiting with his wife and children at the time, happened by chance to catch one of the lead engineers kicking and hurling abuse at a gorilla-sized paper-clip with football-sized eyes. He immediately realized the potential of the invention for a Microsoft product. Although the Caltech engineer insisted that he could take the damned things without charge, Gates insisted that he pay twelve million dollars in case of intellectual property disputes.

"He said it would encourage innovation," said Melinda Gates in passing.

The Caltech robot had escaped from the Dancing Office Assistants Training Center #3 and was roaming the Bureaucracy Wings before the fire started. It was found in its paper-clip form, squashed beneath a copy of the Windows End-User License Agreement. It is thought that there may have been an initial explosion that triggered a shock wave -- although an early seismologist's report showed there could never be a shock wave quite explosive enough to topple a Windows EULA.

"It's a sad loss," said Gates, "It's a very sad loss. Especially Merlin."

"Yeah," Ballmer agreed, "But at least our paperwork is easily replaced. We have 250 backups in every state of the US, and everybody has a copy of the Windows EULA on their computer, of course. However, I suspect this disaster will provide another excuse to delay Longhorn again."

In a meeting in Board Room #420 it was decided that a monument to the Office Assistant would be constructed in the area after the clearing of the wreckage.

We tried to get a comment from Apple, but the party was going too strong and they didn't notice us.

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