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I am a PC… For Now.

Listen folks, I have been a computer geek a long time. I started with the early versions of DOS and have been using Microsoft operating systems for nearly 20 years. I used to know how to configure extended memory, expanded memory, etc in order to get various PC games to work in less than 1mb of memory. I still have a copy of Windows 3.1 and keep it as a memento along with my high school yearbooks and Star Wars figures. Yes as I type this I realize how geeky that sounds.

When in college, everyone tried to get me to switch to a Mac, I stuck with Windows. When I taught high school, I was once again enticed by the lure of Macs, and I persevered. For years, I had a running argument with my uncle every Christmas about PC vs. Mac. My opinion was always that Macs were for people who weren’t capable of using a PC. They were expensive, proprietary, and had less software available for them. Also, since I was an avid gamer, I remained with Windows because gaming on a Mac is laughable. I’ve argued on your behalf so many times I’ve lost count.

Them: PC’s get infected with viruses and spyware all the time.
Me: I patiently explain that since Windows is ubiquitous, they are the OS that is targeted by hackers. Suck it up and install anti-virus software.

Them: Windows crashes all the time.
Me: Mac has it easier because their OS only has to work on their hardware. Windows has to work with a myriad of different manufacturer’s products.

Them: PC’s are too complicated; Mac’s just simply work.
Me: Plug and play, USB, etc has made PC’s easier. You simply have to know what you should and should not do with a computer, like a car.

Windows XP’s success felt like some vindication of my fanboy devotion. It wasn’t a great OS, but it was better than Windows 98 and the abortion that was Windows Me. I buy your other products as well. I was an early purchaser of the original Xbox and have an Xbox 360. I use your peripherals – mice, keyboards, etc.

I am a PC, I have always been a PC, and I make my living with PC’s. I could have made one of those commercials for you. Until now, I had espoused that Mac users were elitist and lazy. However, this has finally changed.

I had high hopes for Vista, but that turned out to be abysmal. My company wisely skipped Vista entirely in its software progression and will eventually move from XP to Windows 7 for this reason. I bought a high end Vista 64 machine for home use and have had so many driver and software incompatibility issues that I cannot imagine a non-geek owning one successfully. You (Microsoft) know there are millions of people remaining on Windows XP because Vista sucks. The fact that you won’t allow users to upgrade from XP to Windows 7 is further evidence of your hubris, and this attitude may eventually be your undoing.

Also, I should mention at this point that while I do own Xbox 360, I have been through 5 of them. All of them died with the Red Ring of Death, over and over again. Being a fanboy, I dutifully replaced them under warranty, even when some of the replacements lasted less than a month. I have actually purchased 3 in addition to those replaced under warranty. I purchased one of them just a couple of months ago for my nephew for Christmas because his Xbox was replaced three times and finally died out of warranty. For years you denied there were problems with that product too, until the news coverage became overwhelming. Even through this, I continued to use your products and said little.

However, I am sick of this. I have made excuses, I have turned a blind eye, but I’m sick of it. You are losing to Apple. Until this point, you have plodded along; content to be second best and I have run out of excuses. Your dominance in the market has made you complacent and lazy. Commercials sway public opinion and they are killing you with them. Their commercials are funny, compelling, but worst of all – True. Your commercials, which as I said before sway public opinion, are inane at best and insulting at worst. What on earth were you thinking with those Jerry Seinfeld Commercials? They were pointless, but at least they were funny. You followed up with, “Windows 7 was my idea.” Do you really expect me to think that Windows 7’s improvements were actually your user’s ideas? Don’t you have legions of top notch engineers who are paid to have these ideas?

Times have changed. Macs are now produced on the same hardware as PC’s, and are not much more expensive. Macs are more stable. Computer gaming? With the exception of WOW, who plays games on PC’s anymore? While there are more options in Windows software, most of the truly great software products are already offered on Mac anyway.

It is time to wake up, Microsoft. We don’t actually need your products anymore. The alternatives are becoming more compelling all the time. Doesn’t it concern you that people who make a living with your software have already jumped ship? One of my big surprises after I joined Twitter is that some of the brightest stars in the SQL Server universe no longer use your operating system. Take a look:

How do they work with SQL Server? Well, in general they use virtual machines which run on the alternative OS.

The recent problem with my new laptop simply put an exclamation point on this. Now, I don’t know whose fault the software problem was, Microsoft or Lenovo. My point is that it doesn’t matter. Perhaps it isn’t fair, but if people have problems with Dell, Lenovo, HP, and other computers; the common factor is Microsoft.

Did I write this blog simply to jab at Microsoft? No. I sincerely want to remain a PC. That’s why I bought the Windows 7 laptop. Please get it right this time. It’s not too late. Stop producing annoying, bug ridden software and other substandard products.

Oh, and a video game system that didn’t die on a monthly basis would be nice too.

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15 comments to I am a PC… For Now.

  • Oh man, I am not on your list of SQL Server stars? :-)

    I wrote about this a while ago:

    http://www.onetooneinteractive.com/otocorporate-posts/2009/05/29/using-a-mac-in-a-windows-world/

    For the most part, I *don’t* use virtual machines for my work. I either RDP directly into Windows boxes, or I use a software alternative to SSMS (AquaData Studio : http://www.aquafold.com/). That said, VMs can be useful for presenting (at SQL Saturday #34 I demo’d all kinds of SSMS features from my MacBook Pro), or for developing without a network (e.g. on a plane).

  • I’m on board, David, as much as I can be. Corporate policy keeps me on Windows. But I find that I leave more and more of the Windows groupie-apps behind – IE, Media Player, etc… I’d chuck out Outlook right now if I could. It crashes several times a day. Infuriating!

    -Kevin
    @kekline

  • Same here,
    I just switched back to Windows. I ran Ubuntu for the last couple of years. I posted my thoughts on it http://www.sqlservercentral.com/blogs/sqlmanofmystery/archive/2009/6/16/three-years-late-was-it-worth-the-wait-windows-7-vista-promises-delivered.aspx and was promptly flamed for ever using anything but Windows even though I had come back into the fold.

  • My name is Jason Griffith, and I’m a PC.

    To be fair, I will point out that WoW is playable on a Mac as well. Though for the “who plays games on PC’s anymore” there’s still several million of us that play games on PC’s. Consoles don’t do it for me anymore; I haven’t even turned one on in over 2 years.

    I stick with Windows because I like the feel of using the OS. I don’t use Mac because I don’t like the feel of the OS. It’s not a matter of which is “better”, it’s a matter of which one suits me best.

    I really don’t care how much Vista sucks, what potential Win7 has, or how advanced Snow Leopard is. I don’t have any interest in rushing out to buy the latest and greatest hardware or software, I use whatever works and whatever fits my personal style the most. At the moment that’s Windows XP, on a Dell desktop or an HP laptop. I do my gaming on a custom machine, but again it’s Windows XP.

    This constant war between Mac vs Windows vs Linux/OpenSource is pointless. You might be a Steelers fan, but I back the Packers. You love the Yankees, but I’m sitting behind the Rangers’ dugout. You may back Chuck Norris, but I still say Bruce Lee could take him. You think Pirates are cool, but my Ninjas would totally own them. (Apology in advance for this one) You like Vampires, I’ll take the Werewolves (apology afterwards too). Star Trek had/has its moments, but Star Wars is still king. It doesn’t matter which teams we’re shouting for, the point is we both love the game. And in this case, the game is called Geekiness.

  • Oops. Sorry Aaron, you’re certainly a SQL Star, but I didn’t know you used a Mac. I’m hoping to follow up with a review of the new Windows 7 Lenovo Laptop in a few weeks.

  • David,
    Very well said. I have a user up on Win7-64 running CAD/CAM and it is working well. However, I am still mystified by the choices MS makes when it comes to OS layout/look and feel. I have their “God Mode” icon on my desktop. This is an undocumented (I think) feature whereby practically all user level settings for the OS can be tweaked. I assume it was created so the testers/developers did not have to hunt all over to find various option settings. So, they create a simple way for the MS and other technical people to access settings and leave the average user with a re-hashed “good luck finding it” interface. Don’t they use focus groups? It still amazes me, really, that a company with the resources and talent MS has can’t do a better job of making their OS easier for the average user.

  • For me it comes down to a cost thing. How much is my time worth? I figured out years ago that if I can just save a couple of days of problems, then the Mac pays for itself.

    I really, really love the ability to just walk into an Apple store, go to the Genius Bar, and get my computer fixed. I’ve had a few problems over the years, and the Genius Bar experience has made my day every time. There’s no finger-pointing between hardware and software vendors, no endless on-hold music, no shipping things around. I just hand it to the Genius, he fixes it, and he calls me when it’s done. To me, that’s worth every penny of the Mac tax. (And make no mistake, the Apple gear you WANT costs more. They have cheap stuff, but it won’t be the one you buy.)

  • While we are a windows Co at present. I use my MacBook Pro w/virtual windows to do my off-line M2M report custom work, test new Windows/M2M/SQL releases. The snapshot of a virtual computer build allows me to take risk I normally wouldn’t consider (in all fairness this is a virtual plus not a Mac plus).

    RDP on Mac is a snap, Vnc works ok.
    OSX & Graphics are like peanutbutter and jelly, Windows well not so much.

    That’s just the GUI, I haven’t made the dive but from what I’ve read TCL on the Mac is also impressive.

    I looked at Windows7 and it is a step in the right direction, but then it also seems to be a OSX (GUI) knock off.

    That being said I remember my Novell LAN being somewhat bullet proof, Market share still speaks loud.

    Thanks

  • While I agree with what Brent has stated, I did have an incident last year where the “Genius” bar failed miserably.

    Essentially he told me that my video driver issue on a MacBook Pro (for which there was already a published KB article stating free repair) was due to my own negligence, and that replacing the graphics board and possibly the whole logic board would run me $1,500+. I’m glad I walked out, calmed down, and called Apple.

    It wouldn’t have been that hard for him to actually listen to what I was telling him about the article on the Apple web site, but one look at the outside of my laptop and he had already determined that this couldn’t possibly be a defective graphics card but must have been my own carelessness.

    Apple ended up taking care of me with superior service, and I had the laptop back in hand within 3 business days at absolutely no cost to me, but that experience in the store left me feeling like I’d have better luck picking up the phone than catching one of these guys on a bad day.

    Anyway, all that said, yes, the Apple hardware is more expensive, but I find that what it saves me in the long run (time, how many times I would replace it, enjoyment / quality) is more than worth it. For similar reasons I like German engineered cars, Tag Heuer watches, etc.

    And even with the experience I had at the store, I believe in the company as a whole and have faith that it was an anomaly and that it will be corrected.

  • One of the primary reasons I remain a PC is that I intend to do presentations, both in video form and at user groups and such. I just thought it would be easier running Microsoft products for demos on their platform.

    Also, I didn’t want to have to take time to learn a whole new platform either. However, my experience with Windows 7 thus far, though mostly rewarding has been like learning everything over again anyway.

  • David

    Jump shark, come over to the white side Luke and virtualize the 7

  • David, virtualization is your friend here. I typically demo stuff from a VM no matter what the base OS is – this lets me set up large fonts, high contrast colors etc., without butchering my primary work environment. This can be pretty important when presenting to a large room because what you are comfortable with on screen is way too small for the folks at the back, and switching back and forth can be a real pain (I guess an alternative to a VM here would be to login as a different user and have different preferences, but the VM is also quite portable to different machines).

    If you are a big PowerPoint guy then Keynote may not be for you but personally I like Keynote better, for a few reasons. Mainly the built-in templates, animations etc. are fresh and not commonly seen by Windows crowds; I can control the slide deck (and see presenter notes) from my iPhone; and switching to the Windows VM to show a demo and then back to the presentation does not go back to design mode (which is what happened the last time I tried to switch between demos and PowerPoint – maybe they’ve fixed that). Plus the display on even my three-year-old MacBook Pro is unrivaled by any laptop I’ve seen from any other manufacturer.

    The only real hiccup I come across from time to time is that not all rooms / projectors are set up for Mac display output… which means I carry a little pouch with several display adapters and dongles.

  • Aaron, yeah I intended to handle the font size thing using a special login to my laptop which is pre-set that way.

    Mark, you remind me of something I read online, “Come to the dark side, we have cookies.” :)

  • Andrew

    I gave up using windows at home a couple of years ago. What took you so long to come to this conclusion?

  • Frank

    Interesting posts. Here’s one from a non-Geek.

    So I am old enough to have experience back to the IBM XT and the Apple IIe. I have worked at PC companies and Mac Companies and have used both platforms through earliest Windows, PowerPC Mac running the non-Unix OS and so on the Snow Leopard and XP (this box). Like most companies, the clients I have had in the last 5 years have all passed on the resource hog named Vista.

    When it came to buying PCs for the home and for my girls to use in college, what did I buy? All Apple (now all-Intel chip versions), from iMacs to MacBooks to iPods. My married daughter bought an iPad last year.

    Why? Because I didn’t want to spend my time fielding calls from my wife and daughters about their PCs not working. I don’t have the time to be the Help Desk at home. I wanted a laptop that would last through ALL FOUR years of college (not likely with a PC). A MacBook is expensive – but it’s way cheaper than having to buy TWO Windows PCs.

    They complained at first, but now I doubt that you could get them to own a Windows box unless you gave it to them. Maybe not even then.

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