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The thoughts and theories of a guy who basically should have gone to bed hours ago.

I know, I know - what's the point? But look at it this way - I stayed up late writing it, but you're reading it...

Let's call ourselves even & move on, OK?


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Thursday, March 23, 2006

Be Careful What You Wish For...


Continuing the theme of my discussion with Jeff about superior Mac technology, here's a guy writing for BusinessWeek Online who thinks Mac users shouldn't boot to Windows, even if they can.

I'm very much convinced that the arrival of the MacTel machine has moved this debate away from the last vestiges of technology, and squarely into politics. You're either in the Microsoft party or the Apple party. And whatever party you're in, everything the other party does is bad. Worse than bad - evil. Any indication that "they" may have an advantage, no matter how small or in what context, is sacrilege.

A few key snippets from this article to illustrate:


There was a certain illogic to the idea of running Windows on a Mac. As one commenter on Slashdot.org observed: "We've figured out how to put an inferior OS on more expensive hardware!" That way, he says, you can have both the frustrations of Windows and pay a lot for the equipment. "Next, how to mod your Porsche into a Toyota Camry."

First of all, the hardware is more expensive because it's not made/sold in the same quantities as Dells or HP/Compaqs. There's no reason to believe Apple could not compete given the same economies of scale. As for an inferior OS, there are certainly arguments to be made in terms of architecture, security, etc. But this guy has no interest whatsoever in making those arguments. Instead, we get this:


Windows certainly is inferior. But like taxes and carbon emissions, many people find it a necessary evil for getting along in the world. I dislike the way Windows gets in your face all the time with system messages, and how it requires so much hand-holding.

I have one Windows box at home. Every time I use it, before I can get anything done, I need to update something -- whether it's a new set of spyware or virus definitions, some new component of Windows, or the driver software for my mouse. The Mac for the most part stays out of your way and walks you through simple updates, but only when you really need them.

Sigh...

On the one hand, he complains about security. On the other hand, he can't be bothered by updates to his virus definitions. Even still, if it really bugs him, he should set the virus updates to download automatically on a regular basis (this is what I do - it only bugs me once a year, when I have to authorize the credit card for another annual license to the software). The same is true for Windows updates/patches - with LiveUpdate, I never get bugged at all (unless I want to be). And the mouse driver? Dude...if that's really happening, get a new mouse.


This a time to go on the offensive: Bring back the "Switchers" TV ads that portrayed happy Mac converts telling their personal stories of Windows unhappiness followed by Mac-inspired bliss. Ellen Feiss, call your agent! It's time for Apple to publicly flog Microsoft for a long string of slipping development schedules.

Damn straight! Why make the two systems interoperable and let people choose the tool they need to do the job at hand, when you can wage all out war and attack the opposition through the media will half truths?!?

I am sure Microsoft is not the least bit happy about delaying Vista until after the hoilday season. There must be some significant functionality that isn't working right for them to forego that kind of marketing opportunity. I'm also sure that if they did release it early and a major bug was found, this same author would be all over them for rushing software to market before it's ready (something Apple would never, ever do...)


To paraphrase Aragorn's rousing speech from before the final battle in Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, a day may come when it makes sense for Apple to get serious about offering Macs that boot to Windows easily. But it's not this day. This is the time to fight.

And so the battle rages on. Next week: Bill Gates is secretly wiretapping e-mails to suspected terrorists, and Steve Ballmer is having an affair with his intern.

posted by Brian at 12:43 PM


4 Comments:

  • We went to the same school. We use the same Internet. Heck, we even see each other from time to time.

    So how is it we seem to spend so much time on different planets?

    Believe it or not, but in an earlier draft of my comments in that other thread (yes, I draft my comments—doesn't everyone?), I cited Business Week as a prime example of where non-Mac people get bad Mac analysis. Now I'm wishing I had left it in.

    Brian, you're not reading people in the Mac community. You're reading people whom the Mac community chides for getting basic facts wrong. Try Macintouch, Daring Fireball, and TidBITS if you really want to hear how we talk to each other.

    Heck, I've even personally argued with Walt Mossberg.

    I'm very much convinced that the arrival of the MacTel machine has moved this debate away from the last vestiges of technology, and squarely into politics. You're either in the Microsoft party or the Apple party.

    Actually, the exact opposite is true. The religious wars used to be over whether the PowerPC or the Intel chip was better. Well, the PowerPC crowd lost (unless, of course, they switch to Xbox). So now instead of having meaningless discussions about the "megahertz myth", it all comes down to hardware design and OS.

    And here's the thing. We have some really big issues with your hardware and OS. You, meaning the other 83%. You know what these issues are. But when you call it all "political", you're essentially dismissing all of them with an airy wave of your hand.

    Let's please note, again, that the most popular 3rd-party software for Mac is Microsoft Office. Not only do we have alternatives, we now have free alternatives. That's not a political war against Microsoft. That's a legitimate belief that Windows makes the lives of many of its users a living hell, in ways that Mac OS X does not. When Microsoft writes software we like (and not only do I like Office, but I've developed for it), we're happy to uptake.

    First of all, the hardware is more expensive because it's not made/sold in the same quantities as Dells or HP/Compaqs. There's no reason to believe Apple could not compete given the same economies of scale.

    Didn't we have this argument last year? I came up with a configuration where the Mac was cheaper for feature-comparison, you came up with one where the Mac surcharge was a few hundred bucks. I replied that design costs more and my keyboard glows in the dark. Lather, rinse, repeat.

    Silly me for thinking that this would go away now that you can buy a Mac-in-the-box for $600....

    On the one hand, he complains about security. On the other hand, he can't be bothered by updates to his virus definitions.

    He didn't say he couldn't be bothered. He said he had to wait for them. It's the difference between having the computer ready when you need it, or needing to wait for your technology to catch up to you.

    It sounds silly, but one of the most important improvements in Mac OS X over OS 9 is that the time it takes to wake from sleep is less than the time it takes me to open the hinge to 90 degrees. If I can see the screen, I can start working. I had absolutely no idea how much time I was losing, waiting for my laptop, until it went away.

    Even still, if it really bugs him, he should set the virus updates to download automatically on a regular basis

    Er... you are aware how bad a security problem this is? Puts you permanently in the guinea pig category for any compromise that can introduced anywhere in the patch system.

    Why make the two systems interoperable and let people choose the tool they need to do the job at hand

    Isn't this exactly the argument I'm using in the other thread?

    I am sure Microsoft is not the least bit happy about delaying Vista until after the hoilday season. There must be some significant functionality that isn't working right for them to forego that kind of marketing opportunity.

    You think so? I can't imagine Microsoft cares too much—what percentage of all Vista users get it for Christmas? Seems to me that (as in the Mac world), you've got your N% who will upgrade immediately, and that the rest of the uptake is based on other factors. From a sales perspective, a free upgrade coupon at Christmas would probably do the trick.

    That being said, I'm currently using the sixth public release of OS X, and the seventh is scheduled to ship before Vista. Do you really think there's nothing to be said for this kind of iterative improvement? Because I really look forward to the regularly scheduled improvements that I've gotten from each upgrade.

    By Anonymous Jeff Porten, at 11:07 PM, March 28, 2006  


  • Jeez, we're really going to do this on two threads? I'll respond here, then let's shut this one down & stay in one post, OK? (others, of course, are free to comment if they dare...)

    As for the zealots: I wasn't talking about Macintouch, I was talking about Business Week. So it seems we agree here (although the fact that you still believe down to your bones that Windows makes life a living hell is evidence that the poison has reached the water supply, IMHO...)

    As for virus updates: if he used the machine more frequently, he'd have less wait time when he booted - that's likely true on any system. As for security, I get monthly updates from Norton, all of which I trust, so I have it set to automatic. If I was worried about being a patch guinea pig, I'd set it to manual and read up on each patch. The time vs. effort scroll bar is there, so he can't complain about one end of it and pretend the other end doesn't exist...

    Re: interoperability. Yes, it's the same argument you're making in the other thread, but here we're talking about people buying machines at home. There, I'm talking about installing 10,000 machines in a corporate environment that's already set a standard. I said *I* couldn't work at home with a Mac, I didn't say *no one* could (or, even, that everyone who buys a PC needs it to work from home).

    Re: Windows at Christmas: no, no one will buy Vista for Christmas. In fact (and this is the point), very few people will buy Vista at all. Soon after Vista comes out, Dell and HP will begin shipping all new machines with it pre-installed, and a WHOLE LOT of people will buy computers for Christmas. This is why the delay is such a big deal. When Microsoft made that announcement, Dell's stock price dropped...

    As for iterative improvement, sure I'm for it. But the first release has got to stand on its own. Microsoft has a PR battle to fight, and they know it.

    By Blogger Brian, at 12:11 AM, March 29, 2006  


  • I think that other thread has enough grist for that mill.... So I'll stay here but be as brief as possible.

    Windows being a living hell: just reporting what I hear, I don't use it myself. But I note that 90% of what I hear just doesn't exist as problems on my side of the fence. I keep reporting my rule-of-thumb metric: there are plenty of Windows consultants who do well supporting only home users. I don't know any Mac consultants who can do this; they just don't need us as much.

    10,000 machines and set standards: if you truly believed this, you'd still be using Wangs. At some point it made sense to switch to Windows. At some point in the future it might make sense to switch away, and perhaps not monolithically. I don't hear you considering this possibility.

    By Anonymous Jeff Porten, at 10:55 PM, March 30, 2006  


  • Windows being a living hell: just reporting what I hear, I don't use it myself.

    I think it's safe to say that most of what you hear comes from people who also don't use it themselves. Think about it: do you really think that 90% of all PC users consider their environment a living hell? Or is it just that with that many users, there will always be story of hard drive crashes, poorly written software, etc.?

    Using me as an anecdotal case, I've used the Windows environment since, literally, the day Windows 3.0 came out (the first usable version). Total problems in 20+ years: One - likely because someone sent my wife a Word document with a virus in it, and I didn't have virus protection software on that machine.

    But I note that 90% of what I hear just doesn't exist as problems on my side of the fence.

    You know, I keep hearing that, but then I read folks like Lileks, who is always complaining about a hard drive crashing here, a peripheral that won't install, a software package that doesn't do what he wants, etc. I'm not comparing the two environments based on two guys' experiences, I'm just saying nothing's perfect, and the trade press does not replace statistics.

    10,000 machines and set standards: if you truly believed this, you'd still be using Wangs. At some point it made sense to switch to Windows. At some point in the future it might make sense to switch away, and perhaps not monolithically. I don't hear you considering this possibility.

    Excellent example: I have considered this point very carefully, and have written extensively about it. Click here.

    By Blogger Brian, at 10:45 AM, April 02, 2006  


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