Microsoft has proudly announced a raft of new ways to frustrate users and lower productivity with its new version of its celebrated Concentration Breaker software.
The company’s stated aim was to build upon the success of previous productivity blockers, such as the Pop Up cartoon paperclip, the upgrade warnings and the indecipherable error messages. But ‘Concentration Breaker’ was not succeeding in completely stopping people from working, explained Bill Gates. ‘These individual distractions are annoying, but they’re not the holistic, end to end, integrated distraction we believe is possible’ he said.
With Concentration Breaker 3.0 Microsoft has dreamed up a imaginative range of ways to stop you remaining focussed. The layout of your favourite application is automatically shuffled every time you switch on your computer, and the shortcuts alter even during the time you are using a given programme. The ‘Are you sure’ feature, traditionally one of the strongest areas for inducing frustration, has been greatly enhanced; now the user is asked twenty-one questions before he can send a single document to the printer. These include ‘What is the cube root of 512?’ and ‘What is the capital of Chad?’
The language software is now programmed to recognize definitive statements as they are typed into Word or emails, at which point an electronic voice will say ‘Rubbish’, ‘Not true’ or ‘You’re a big fat liar’. And best of all, in place of a paperclip or a little animated dog, the image of an ugly and aggressive man pops up at random moments and makes obscene gestures at you from the screen.
Unfortunately the official launch of Concentration Breaker 3.0 was cut short when the computer froze and all the work done that morning was permanently lost. At which point the assembled reporters realized that this too was part of the software’s work-preventing design and spontaneous applause broke out across the hall. The programme is expected to get rave reviews once the journalists have worked out which laptop keys now correspond to which letters.