I realize my Mac friends will think the title of this is utterly redundant, and I would generally be forced to agree on some level, but I also use a Windoze PC besides my trusty Macintosh. (In this article when I refer to PC, I am referring to Windows based PCs. I am all for Linux based boxes on any platform.) I was moved to type this after hearing yet another Windows-using acquaintance of mine bemoan how counter-intuitive Windows is and how horrible his user experience is.
I hear people complain how they hate their PC, how it’s not intuitive, and how nothing works right. Sure, some of them are idiot users but most aren’t: they’re average, ordinary people. Can I help Windows users? Sometimes, but I usually choose not to do so unless it’s something really simple. Windows users have brought their misery upon themselves.
All kidding aside, this frustration is the number one reason people use Macintosh: Macintosh works and it makes sense. It’s intuitive to all but the dimmest bulb.
Almost all Apple programs confirm to something called HIG (Macintosh Human Interface Guidelines) — an awesome book written by Apple when the Macintosh first came out — it’s seen revisions over the years and you can still buy it on Amazon using ISBN-10: 0201622165
HIG clearly defines what users expect — based on research into how people use computers and expect them to work — and EVERY SINGLE Macintosh program (games excluded for obvious reasons) is expected to conform to these standards. If your program saves files and you want the Macintosh to recognize them officially and automatically, their filetypes and creators should be registered with Apple — and this generally ensures a quality experience for the user. The one notable exception is Microsoft whose software is not fully compliant, though Office 2007 for the Mac (due out this summer) will supposedly be. And to be fair a few Adobe products (Photoshop) are not fully compliant either, but Joe Average user probably isn’t using a $1,000 program — but honestly, I’ve figured out the basics of it. Also, many Mac programs have more features than their Windows counterparts — though this is also true in reverse sometimes.
The same thing goes for hardware. You should plug it in, and it should work. Sometimes obscure hardware needs a driver but generally printers, mice, keyboards, digital cameras, webcams, digital camcorders, scanners, monitors, external hard drives, and the lot just work. The end. Sure, a specialized driver might make it work better but they aren’t required. I can plug many printers marked “for Windows only” into my Mac and they work anyway.
Anything I buy, I can make work. I stick it and it goes. Command-P (alt-P to you PC users) does the same thing in every single program. Windows programs didn’t use to be like that, but it’s getting closer. For example, I am not a video editor, but I can open iMovie and figure out how to use my webcam to make a short home movie. It might not be good or professional on the first try, but it’s done. I am certainly not an audio-geek but I can edit sound and song files with ease. I can use any word processor, spreadsheet, and most graphic programs and figure them out. I may not work like a pro, but I can make the program work. I don’t need a manual.
Despite what pundits and commercials may have you believe, Macs have the same crap as Windows PCs do when it comes to extensions, drivers, system updates, and all that, but on the Mac it’s all transparent. Macs are true plug and play. Windows PCs are plug and play and then fiddle with drivers, reboot a few times, and hope it works and nothing else broke. Macs are not perfect, but as a user of both, I cannot in good conscience recommend a Windows based system to anyone I like, unless they’re a hardcore gamer because Windows is certainly better at that if you go by selection and accessories for same.
If you’re frustrated with your computing experience, go to your nearest Apple store, and try a Macintosh. Or try a friend’s. Use it for just an hour with an open mind. When you’re done, you’ll see why Mac users are so fiercely loyal to their computers. Whenever one of my Windows friends gets hugely frustrated, I give them that same advice. Their conversion rate is around 75%. If you buy a Windows based system, you’re getting exactly what you’re paying for — cheaper is not always better. My goal is to change the world one person at a time. I wonder why people choose to use a computer that makes their life miserable. The Mac can do everything a PC can do.
There are some good reasons to own a Windows PC: If you’re a gamer, get a PC. If you are in school — teacher or student — and that’s what your school uses or recommends, get a PC. If you want to be one of the masses of people who can’t think for themselves, a PC is definitely right for you. If you make a living helping people with their PCs, you don’t have much of a choice; and you’re going to have a job for life. Mac users don’t normally need help and we’re smart enough to find it online when we do 🙂
Lastly, if you’re a PC user, you probably don’t want to read this article from 2002 which suggests statistically Mac users are smarter than their PC counterparts. And you certainly don’t want to read this article from 2004 because you’ll get an inferiority complex. In defense of the Windows PC users, I must reiterate my previous statement that I do know smart Windows PC users, but for the most part they’re really not quite as intelligent as the Mac users I know. Which explains an awful lot about the world. (There are similar studies, none of the very scientific, indicating a correlation of Mac users being better educated, more liberal, and so forth. However, we all know statistics can be made to say anything, so I won’t go off on that tangent.) Besides, why support Microsoft? If you use Vista, you’re handing your life over to them