Hey, Windows Guy, You want a Mac, You Just don’t Know it (and the real reason most people use Windows)
(Authors note: If you’re a Mac fan already read no further. Additionally, if you are a hard core gamer, the kind of paste-eater that would run a ISDN line to your house so you could game online a little more comfortably, stop reading now.)
Find a guy with a physics degree, another with an engineering degree and lots of computer experience and add yet another degreed engineer with experience manufacturing nuclear bombs (Preferably one whose last project was “Planet Splitter 2000”) and put them in a room with a Pentium 133 and a modem that doesn’t work. Wait three hours. Wait a day. What do have then? Since I have just lived that scenario I can tell you the answer: You have a Pentium 133 with a modem that still doesn’t work.
Actually that’s a bit of hyperbole. The engineers were busy so the physics guy did most of the meddling. (Just betwixt you and I: It’s a good idea to keep any engineers that are capable of building a nuclear bomb out of duct tape, used smoke detectors and pine cones busy, lest they begin experimenting.). Still, one would think, a guy with a degree in physics should be able to diagnose and replace a broken modem in less than 16 man-hours. Unless, of course, that physics guy was a blithering idiot. Generally I (the physics guy) would lean towards the “blithering idiot” explanation. I’m making an exception in this case, not only was I stymied but so were the engineers, the powerhouse overlord, Bill Gates and Michael Dell (I don’t really know about the last two but it seems like a reasonable assumption).
At this point your eyes are probably glazing over with the prospect of yet another article ranting about the ease of repairing Macs compared to the problems inherent in the opacity of the Windows OS. Sure enough, Windows is about as intuitive as a bowl full of cornstarch and water cracking when punched yet quickly flowing all over the counter when left alone.* Yet if one can forget the moment by moment frustration of Windows and focus on the reactions of the folks standing around hoping (even though they know better) for some sort of miraculous Windows key combination that makes everything hunky dory one will note that most of the bystanders are secretly Mac folks. Of course these same folks will deny they are secret Mac wannabes, they will even aver a certain loathing for Apple. The rub, predictably, is that the folks don’t realize that they are secret Mac fans.
You can convince yourself of the simple “Everyone Wants a Mac” truism by repairing a Wintel with a lot of people around. Repairing a Windows system is, and I mean this sincerely, a lot of fun. It’s like an intricately plotted murder mystery with plenty of red herrings and crucially important, yet seemingly meaningless, minutiae. The important thing, for these purposes, is to monitor the amassed crowd to find the secret Mac fans. How can you tell the secret Mac fans? They’re the ones who aren’t interested in IRQ’s and COM port assignments. They’re the ones who just want to get the computer working so they can the thing home, get on the internet, let the kid mash some buttons and change screen colors. They’re also the ones who wonder why the screen is purple. (Note to self, tell Engineer Pu235 about the mostly pleasing Apple desktop schemes, after his desktop choice I smell a convert.) The troubling aspect is that these folks don’t realize that the Mac is so clearly superior. They haven’t used an Apple since Lisa. If they had a week on a Mac they would still use Windows (more on this phenomena below) but at least they would know they are experiencing a sub-par computing experience.
So do most people use Windows because of marketing or lack thereof? No, I think most people use Windows because of the free software. You can skip trying to mentally catalogue Windows included software looking for the “killer ap” that relegates Apple to five percent market share because it’s not Solitaire or Minesweeper. The software I ‘m referring is not included with a new Dell “dude”. The software I refer to is the software people steal, errr, liberate from work for home use. Most places I have worked don’t notice (or mind) if a copy of Office 2000 heads for the homestead on a Monday evening and returns Tuesday morning. (The exception being my current employer, I’m pretty sure “home backup” is a smitable offense.) Hence in exchange for a copy of MSOffice and Norton Disk Doctor people will gladly suffer a frustration induced cerebral hemorrhage. Who can blame them? Microsoft Office costs five hundred bucks and the insurance co-pay is only ten one-dollar bills. I’m sure Microsoft is aware of this and undoubtedly they are working on methods to ensure that every offsite residential backup copy of Office will be replaced by a legally acquired and registered copy of said bloatware (.NET? subscription model? softwarejackboots.com?)but until that happens Apple’s market share is doomed to suffer.
*This is true. If you get a box of cornstarch and mix it with a cup or so of water you’ll end up with a pile of goo that, owing to the long molecules, flows like gravy at low speeds but locks up like a Windows hard drive if violently moved. With enough practice you can whip said marvel of organic chemistry between your hands at high speeds thereby forming a ball. Take aforementioned ball of starch and quickly toss it to a co-worker (hopefully named Rex) and watch it return to goo as he catches the now shapeless and messy mass. Hilarity ensues.