I am going to say it again, though I’ve said it many times before: if Microsoft made a device or piece of software that was superior to the comparable products I already use, I would gladly Switch back.
I’m not blindly loyal to Apple. I will not defend everything they do, and I will not ignore the defects of their products, nor will I deny the even remote possibility that another company could do what Apple does and do it better. It’s possible.
Using a Macintosh is unlike any other computer experience. Windows is a bland, kit-bashed conglomeration of popup dialogue bubbles and eldritch system settings.
For instance, I was using Becky’s laptop last night, trying to show some folks a brilliant YouTube, but was constantly interrupted by the wireless networking protocol that kept telling me, in languid detail, that a new WAN network was available, over and over again, like the annoying urchin who pulls at one’s coattails, while the goddamn thing was connected to Becky’s LAN. It was already on the internet via a physical cable – the WAN settings were utterly unimportant to what I was doing, yet the computer didn’t know it, didn’t care or simply had it out for me.
Windows is a TV with bunny ears and bad reception. Every time you want to watch a different station, you have to adjust the antenna in just the right way, except you don’t know which position you need until you’ve found it. Using an Apple computer is like watching cable.
See, everything just works. Manipulating the underpinnings of the operating system is not a part of daily use. My Mac quietly chugs away in the background, taking care of all the little things that I have to do by hand on my Windows machine.
For instance, I took a photograph of my freshly-painted door. I want to use that picture as my desktop background.
I plug my camera into my Mac. It boots up iPhoto, asks me if I want to import all of the photos, and then just does it. I go to my System Settings, chose Desktop, and it has a list of my iPhoto images (with thumbnails!) right there in the goddamn dialogue. I don’t have to browse through folders in order to find it. It’s right there. See, my Mac anticipates what I want to do, and tries its best to accomplish those tasks with minimal effort by me.
This experience also applies to using my iPod. I plug it in, and it does everything else. I unplug it, take it with me, and I listen to it. Sure, I have to define certain parameters, but that’s because I have a 3-year old iPod, and all of my stuff won’t fit on it.
I also have an older iMic. I didn’t have to install any drivers. I just plugged the thing in, my Mac automatically recognized it, and I could use it.
This is why Apple products are superior to Windows products – not because of some divine favor of the gods, or Steve Jobs casting magical spells in his basement, but because everything in the Apple suite of products is manufactured and programmed to work seamlessly together.
Windows is a victim of its own ubiquity.
Because Windows has such massive market domination, it has to work with everything. It is bloated by a library of drivers that most users, individually, won’t use. It is a workman OS, forced by its success to be everything to everybody, from gamers to accountants. Because Microsoft is a software company, it has to make sure its OS can run on pretty much any hardware setup it is likely to come into contact with.
Windows is incredibly flexible. It doesn’t always work, and it has vast, insurmountable usability issues, but it’ll run on anything and will (if not natively) support any hardware you plug into it. Hell, It even runs on Apple hardware.
Apple, on the other hand, is a systems company.
They have total control over the hardware and software that they produce. Each of these departments talk to each other and know what the other is doing. Part of the reason why Mac programs work so well together is because the developers know exactly what kind of hardware setup will be running their software.
For instance, there are devices that do exactly what the iPod does (plus things that the iPod doesn’t do), and usually for less money. But if you’re using a Macintosh, the iPod is the absolute best MP3 player – it’s part of the Apple System. It’s made to operate seamlessly with the OS.
This is also the source of my major complaint against Apple: it doesn’t play well with my peripherals.
Windows has to. Also, device manufacturers market specifically for the PC crowd, since that’s where their sales will be.
I have used many printers from many manufacturers, and none of them were natively supported by my iBook. I have always had to do the Driver Shuffle, searching through Epson’s or HP’s support websites. In some extreme cases, I’ve had to use Gutenprint in order to get the damn thing to work.
My scanner doesn’t even support Apple computers, an oversight I won’t make again.
See, I know the strengths and weaknesses of the products I use. None of them are perfect. Each one does what it was meant to do. I prefer Apple, because I’m past the point in my life where cajoling the OS into doing my bidding was fun.