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Another Anti-Microsoft Rant

Why do they do it? Why do people use PCs running Microsoft Windows? I mean there must be some reason for it because Windows PCs are so popular, but I can’t figure it out. I converted a PC user to a Mac today and I had to use the PC to transfer and convert data and what a horrible experience it was!

The PC was a fairly high-end laptop, admittedly a few years old, but similar in age to my MacBook Pro, but how different the user experience was! For a start, the PC was dismally slow, and much slower than my Mac at doing most operations. The PC was probably a bit cheaper than my Mac and had a slightly inferior processor but the main cause of the lack of speed seemed to be Windows.

Then there was the trackpad. What were Toshiba thinking when they created that monstrosity! Using a mouse on a Windows machine is bad enough but when compared with the trackpad the mouse was great! Half the time it didn’t respond at all, then it would over-react, then it would move an unpredictable amount. The fine control available in a Mac trackpad makes the PC look like something from the stone age!

And what about aesthetics? Why did Microsoft think that the hideous pale blue colour scheme with childish, cartoonish icons was the correct interface for their professional products like Office and Outlook? I know Microsoft has no taste and style but surely there are limits!

Of course, all the other usual complaints about Windows also apply. You would think that a company with the resources of Microsoft would be able to hire a few design and user interaction experts to make their operating system make some sort of sense to a reasonable percentage of users, but apparently not.

I guess Microsoft have been extremely successful while creating ugly, unreliable, insecure, cluttered, confusing products in the past, so why should they change? They aren’t there to advance computing, produce innovative products, or make their users’ lives better after all – they clearly are there to create the maximum amount of profit from the minimum amount of effort and they are certainly good at that!

So why do they do it? PC users, I mean. People seem to use Windows for several major reasons: one, they think (either correctly or not) that they have to; two, they don’t think there’s an alternative; three, that’s what they are used to using and they are scared to change; and 4, they are trapped by software which is only available for Windows.

None of these reasons are really unreasonable but none are insurmountable either. No one is saying that switching to Mac or Linux wouldn’t involve some inconvenience but I do think most people would benefit in the longer term (and by that I mean about a month).

Few people convert from Windows to Mac and want to go back. I know a few who did, but that was because they were trapped in a very pro-Microsoft environment. Fair enough, sometimes bucking the trend is just too hard.

Why do I care that the majority of people use a horrible operating system running on (mostly) mediocre hardware? Because I care about computing. I want to see progress happen and that is currently being held back by Microsoft’s dominance. Also, I want the Mac to be more popular so that more people develop more software and hardware for it. And finally, I just care about other computer users being tortured by Microsoft junk – most of them just don’t deserve that!

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