It took me a long time to make the decision to switch from Mac to Windows. The decision to switch was not easy for me. I’ve used Macs for about 15 years. I loathe Microsoft, Steve Ballmer, and Bill Gates. I scoffed at Windows users feeble attempts to justify their platform of choice. I convinced many friends, family members, and co-workers to switch to the Mac. So, why am I switching?
Like it or not, Apple is a business. That means the desire for sales and profits will outweigh everything else the company does.
There was a time when buying Macs from Apple meant “quality you paid extra to get.” We still pay extra but the quality of the Mac, indeed nearly everything Apple does, has suffered in the past few years.
The iPod’s raging success taught Apple to be less humble. In a few short years the company was transformed from a quality boutique product maker, to an industry heavyweight. Heavy, as in not humble.
A less humble Apple, previously striving to build quality products wholly differentiated from Microsoft and the world of Windows PCs, began to focus on product market share, locking customers in to a stream of products, enhancing horrific gross margins—sales and profits.
The past few years have shown Apple to be a different company than just a few years earlier.
Success Breeds Arrogance
Microsoft is an arrogant company, probably evil in nature from top to bottom. Their disdain for the customer is legendary. Their products mediocre and full of bugs.
Microsoft hasn’t had much competition for years yet their paranoia and insistence in owning every internet related market is obscenely misguided.
How is Apple different from Microsoft?
Frankly, these days, not so much. Apple’s famed quality and reliability seems to have gone the way of the PowerPC chip; a fond memory. Mac OS X Leopard is less dependable and stable than Tiger and Panther before.
Macs crash more frequently and cause more problems than ever; software and hardware. My last five Macs have increasingly become less stable, less dependable.
Many Mac users have no problems. However, what I found during my agonizing decision making process, is that many Windows Vista users have no problems, either.
What gives? How can that be?
Reputations and Momentum
The Mac enjoys a zealous customer base and a stellar reputation. It is Mac users who encourage Windows users to switch from the dark side. It’s seldom the other way around.
Why? Reputation and momentum. Apple has both right now, despite the obvious blemishes, tarnishes, and product issues plaguing the company’s products the past couple of years.
People have heard that Apple’s products are better, work seamlessly, are more secure and dependable, so they buy. On the other hand, what works well in the Windows world?
Cell phone syncing? Music player syncing and management? Printers, scanners, and whatever else we attach to our computers these days? The reputation is that things don’t work so well when running on Windows.
That may be the general case, but is not wholly true. For many, Windows works fine. On the other hand, some Macs break. For some, OS X has bugs, crashes, isn’t stable, is less than dependable. The iPhone 3G was a PR nightmare that wasn’t waiting around to happen. It happened.
In other words, Apple’s reputation as a company with quality products will carry it farther into the future than probably deserved. Meanwhile, Microsoft’s Windows Vista, available on most PCs these days, has a poor reputation, brought in part by the momentum of Windows XP’s problems and other Microsoft products through the years.
Birds of a Feather
Despite obvious differences of character, style, business approach, product development, one thing is clear—Microsoft and Apple are birds of a feather.
Through the years each company has shown a tendency—Microsoft by public habit, Apple by recent trends—toward a clear disdain for the customer, a plantation mentality which strives like an obsessed man, an addict for increased sales, huge profit margins, customer lock-in to products, and, the inevitable drop in quality.
It’s more of a public issue for Microsoft, but Apple’s trend is wholly similar.
If they’re birds of a feather then does it matter which computer is used? Not really, especially if you’re going to have troubles no matter which platform you choose, Mac or Windows.
I’ve had my share of Apple product problems in the past couple of years and the trend is unmistakable. Lower quality, less dependability. Same price. How does that differ from Microsoft’s approach?
Not so much. Apple has a highly polished public persona and legions of devoted, almost cult-like followers who toe the company line, evangelize to everyone who will listen, vilify those who don’t, and heap fire and coals on the heads of those who disagree with their choice of technodrug. That’s more religion than choice.
Microsoft doesn’t bask in the sun so well, preferring to beat up customers in the shadows. But the end result is the same.
Why Windows Vista?
Why not? Frankly, after having used a new HP PC with Windows Vista for nearly a month, I can attest that it works just fine. It’s fast, it prints, it scans, it’s secure, it hasn’t crashed, it’s hasn’t hiccuped.
That’s not to say it won’t, but my Macs crashed, hiccuped, and became, at times, wholly undependable.
Vista runs Microsoft Office quite well, thank you. I kind of like the Ribbon. I can also say the same for Adobe’s Creative Suite. In fact, there isn’t really much user difference between the Windows versions of the same apps I used on my Mac for years.
If there’s no real difference between the two, then it’s a matter of money. Despite the so-called parity between Macs and PCs, the PC came with a lot of software bundled in (and a lot of crap).
Goodbye to the Mac?
Completely? Probably not, but certainly for now. Apple needs to do two things to make me switch back.
1 – make stable, dependable products again (they’re not doing that now, and haven’t for awhile)
2 – give me something really special (iPhone user interface and Leopard eye candy is not enough)
Using a computer these days is more or less like using a commodity service. If it works, great. If it doesn’t, fix it until it does. The problem is that there isn’t much difference in that scenario between Mac and Vista. They both get the job done, though in somewhat different ways.
In the end, I chose to switch to Vista from my Mac because I found something new, interesting, less expensive, and, so far, as stable and dependable as any of my last five Macs. Oh, and guess what? Vista actually works well with iTunes and my iPhone (now that my beleaguered iPhone finally works decently).