Planning on getting sick? Hoping to schedule elective surgery? Expecting a baby? You might want to wait for the new release of Vista. At least>"/>
Planning on getting sick? Hoping to schedule elective surgery? Expecting a baby? You might want to wait for the new release of Vista. At least that’s one scenario to the disturbing announcement earlier this month that Microsoft is getting into the health care biz, a $2 trillion market. Its free new HealthVault service (www.healthvault.com) will store all your most intimate and vital medical records for you and your doctors to update and share.
That’s right: The company that brought you Zune and Microsoft Bob, the friendly neighborhood monopolist presently being sued in dozens of European courts, the pioneer of total system crashes, threatening one-way “dialogue” boxes, and irretrievably lost documents wants to be trusted with your mammogram results, your PSA scores, and your children’s allergy medications.
The Web site is already live and waiting for you to upload every possible detail about your past medical history—that college abortion you never told your parents about, those years of psychotherapy and antidepressants, the time you sued your dentist for touching you inappropriately while under anesthesia. So many secrets to share. Then all that information is stored in Microsoft’s supposedly secure, encrypted database, which is regulated by its Windows Live ID log-on protocols (if it’s good enough for IM, it’s good enough for your MRIs). Not that hackers would ever target Microsoft or anything.
Or you can employ HealthVault’s search function. For instance, syphilis! HealthVault tells us that, “Many people do not notice symptoms for years. Symptoms can go away and come back.” (Try that for a pick-up line at Peso’s.) Also, would you like to buy a book on that venereal subject from Amazon.com, one of Microsoft’s many commercial partners? (Now we see why the service is free.)
And, after malady-entry, the system works in two directions. Microsoft partners like Seattle’s Healthphone Solutions are preparing to send you text messages tailored to your health needs! If you’re trying to quit smoking, for example, you might receive a friendly reminder like, “Sensors inside your PC have detected the presence of a Marlboro Light. Press ‘Yes’ for this computer to shut down immediately. Press ‘No’ for this computer to shut down immediately.”
Overweight? “To burn off the calories from that donut just seen on your PC’s two-way video camera, run around the block three times or the file containing your wedding photos will be permanently corrupted.”
Or, maybe you’ve got a drinking problem? “You must blow into your built-in Windows HealthVault Breathalyzer™ and score 0.08 or less before responding to any more online dating sites.”
And for a different kind of addiction: “Stop watching cyber-porn, or we’ll email the links to your mother.”