Along came an Operating System …

It’s important that people learn to not swing so far in one direction that it just becomes ridiculous. That’s exactly the feeling I get when listening to people talk about MACs lately.

Why is it that 80% of MAC users feel the need to incessantly prove that a MAC is just sooooooo much better than Windows? Now don’t get me wrong, I think there is a time and place for everything – I love the Apple Brand and Style (I have an iPod, and “had” an iBook) but the next time you feel the need to convince someone that your computer and OS is just sooooo much better, please explain also:

  • Why less than 5% of Apples revenue comes from the sales of their operating system.
  • Why if their hardware and operating system is far superior that one of the most appealing and advertised facts is that the mac is now INTEL based, and you can run Windows – every single person I know that has bought a mac does just that, run Windows.
  • Why in my 10+ years of working in the IT industry I have seen “maybe” a handful of MACs in a business environment.

I’m not bashing Apple or MACS, again I think there is a time and place for everything. I just think that people need to put things in perspective. This mentality of “Our stuff is great because we say so”, really just doesn’t cut it. At some point people need to simply accept the fact that it’s simply a completely different market (Business -versus- Hobbyist) and the arguments being made simply do not apply.

Well that’s been my 2c worth to help add some balance to the world :)

Update:  Sahil Malik has done created an in depth look at some of the “Hi I’m a PC and I’m a MAC” ads.  It’s certainly worth checking out.

80 comments on “Along came an Operating System …

  1. Mark says:

    I agree with you about some MAC owners being overly enthusiastic with promoting MACs but you get the same vocal minority within all groups of enthusiasts (yes – even Windows). I remember seeing a post on an Alfresco (an Open Source ECM) discussion by SharePoint MVP Todd Bleeker where he basically dissed Alfresco and bigged up SharePoint without even trying Alfresco.

    I don’t think that sales figures or pervasiveness in the workplace will tell you much about the quality of a product. Lower quality products often sell better than higher quality products (e.g. VHS v Betamax). There can be several reasons for this – marketing, pricing, unfair advantage, etc. Thankfully, sometimes quality does shine through – e.g. Firefox v IE6 (what the Firefox guys have achieved is pretty amazing if you think about it). I’m glad to see that MS have made a reasonable effort with IE7 to catch up. It’s pretty hard to get away from Windows for most people because the majority of software is only available on Windows, it is enforced on most users at work, most PCs come preinstalled with it and if it does the job OK (things don’t have to be perfect to be useful) why would you consider switching?

    It’s a real shame to see so many fanboy attitudes online but you will always get this. I guess that some see Microsoft basically ripping off OSX features and style although it does seem a little stupid to me because it’s not as though these guys are actually losing out personally in any way. I don’t really agree with your “business v hobbyist” line. Plenty of professionals use other operating systems at work and/or home (Unix, Linux, OSX, etc). For IT professionals in particular I think that’s it’s good to try out different things – whether they be operating systems, programming languages, methodologies, etc.

    For what it’s worth I’ve used Microsoft products since DOS (edlin still gives me nightmares) and make my living as a developer using a variety of platforms. I neither wear sandals nor have a long beard ;-) I’m currently running WinXP at home but I’m considering skipping Vista for Linux or OSX for my next major purchase. I’ll probably retain Windows so that I can hack around with .Net.

    PS
    I have nothing against Todd at all. He’s a talented guy, I really enjoyed a SharePoint training session that he held and he seemed a thoroughly decent bloke. I’ll probably end up buying his new WSS book as well :-)

  2. shane says:

    Some great comments – almost all of which I agree with, including the ‘hobbyist’ remark being possibly a little unrealistic. I guess my overall point is that Apple caters to a much lower % of the business market than Microsoft. Not that there is anything wrong with that – the only thing wrong is when the cult mentality spills over.

    I would agree and say the same about anyone swinging to far in one direction about any product, technology or methodology.

  3. MessengerBoy says:

    Just a word of advice, Shane. If you’re going to talk about Macs, you should probably stop capitalizing all the letters. “Mac” is not an acronym, it’s an abbreviation for “MacIntosh.”

  4. MessengerBoy says:

    Shane, just a friendly tip. If you want Mac users to pay attention to you when you write about Macs, don’t capitalize all the letters. Whether it’s true or not, it indicates a lack of sophistication on your part. “Mac” is not an acronym. It’s an abbreviation for “Macintosh.” Also instead of “Mac” you can always use “OS X.”

  5. Andy says:

    Yup, market penetration does not equate to quality. Look at VHS vs Betamax, CD vs HDCD or DVD-A. MiniDisc vs MP3. Each time the ‘cheap and cheerful (but good enough and more standard)’ one was most successful.

    Secondly, part of it is momentum. You should hear some of the bitching that we’re hearing about the Office 2007 ribbon – because it’s different, and not what people are used to. (FWIW, I think it’s great). Can you imagine what would happen if you were to change operating systems? For non-techies, it goes straight in the ‘too hard’ box.

    Interestingly, there’s sort of a reverse version of this in the Graphic Design and Publishing industry. They’ll never switch away from Macs because of that momentum.

    Personally, I use Windows, and I like Macs. I’d be tempted by a Mac for my next PC, but only if it can run a virtual Windows machine for those applications I can’t do without. Actually, my main concern regarding operating systems is the pervasiveness of the DRM that’s being built into them now. Hence, I’m resisting Vista, and won’t use iTunes.

  6. Robert Biggs says:

    First off, I use Windows, Linux, BSD, Solaris and Mac. If you really want to irritate people who use Apple’s computers, refer to them as MAC instead of Mac. MAC is not the name of a product from Apple, although PC-centric users unfamiliar with the platform always refer to it that way, as in your article and the posts above. However, technically MAC is an acronym which in technology circles usually refers to “Medium Access Control” which has to do with network configuration and operation, such as the MAC address of a network card. The acronym also has other meanings, none of which is a computer or operating system from the former Apple Computer, now known as Apple Inc.

    As far as OSs go, they all have their strengths and weaknesses–all of them. In the case of Windows, the only reason it has the market share is not because it is better than any other OS. It has it because of the shrewd packaging deals which Microsoft has with box producers. For the vast majority of users out there, if they buy a computer, it’s going to have Windows already on it because of contractual obligations to Microsoft.

    It’s the same thing with the iPod, and even you have done it. People don’t buy an MP3 player for the features, they buy it because of marketing strategies.

    At the moment I have a total of 9 operating systems installed on my laptop. I love them all, and I get annoyed by all of them for ridiculous little things they do sometimes. It kind of like kids that poop in their diapers while your holding them, its annoying, but you overlook it because of your attachments.

  7. shane says:

    Some interesting comments, to respond to a couple:

    ————————————————————–

    MessengerBoy:
    Shane, just a friendly tip. If you want Mac users to pay attention to you when you write about Macs, don’t capitalize all the letters. Whether it’s true or not, it indicates a lack of sophistication on your part. “Mac” is not an acronym. It’s an abbreviation for “Macintosh.” Also instead of “Mac” you can always use “OS X.”

    [shane]
    I wouldn’t expect more than 1-2% of the people that the statements apply to, to listen or respond in a rational way so I am really not looking to get their attention, it was more of a general statement. Thanks for the tip but I hardly think capatilizing a couple of letters is a good judgement of someones “sophistication” level and on one final note, referring to “OS X” would be referring to only the operating system and the truth is that is maybe 40% of the problem. I rarely hear the statement “Mac’s OS is better, instead it is simply “Mac’s are just better, and I can run Windows”.

    ————————————————————–

    Andy,
    Interestingly, there’s sort of a reverse version of this in the Graphic Design and Publishing industry. They’ll never switch away from Macs because of that momentum.

    [shane]
    I’m particularly intrigued by this one because I am a graphic designer. While you certainly wouldn’t say it with my blog, I have been a web designer/graphic designer for more than 10 years. I would agree that there is a noticable majority in the ‘creative’ field. I believe that has a lot to do with Apple’s core message from days gone by “Think Different” and the fact that it was positioned as “The machine for creative people”. Truth be told, after 10 years of working in the design/development industry, I have never had a case where I could justifiably propose a case for needing a Mac to do something better or faster.

    ————————————————————–

    My underlying message in all of this in case you missed it is:

    If they are trying to convince people that a Mac is better than a PC then why do they all use Intel?
    If they are trying to convinec people that the Mac OS is better than Windows OS, then why are they aggressively promoting the ability to run Windows?

    If they had come out and said, Our computers look much, much nicer. I would have agreed.

  8. MessengerBoy says:

    Shane, I’m sorry if I offended you. That was certainly not my intent. I don’t think *you’re* unsophisticated, I was simply trying to suggest that the way you capitalized the letters might come off that way to Mac users. You shouldn’t automatically shut us out because you assume we won’t agree with you. Not all Mac users are mindless Steve Jobs fans, you know. I use Windows at work and OS X at home. SharePoint is one of the most exciting and useful tools I know of, but given the choice of hardware and operating systems, I’ll take Macs and OS X over PC’s and Windows. Microsoft isn’t perfect and neither is Apple. Can’t we all just speak to each other without getting defensive?

  9. shane says:

    MessengerBoy,

    Not to worry, I’m not offended. I’m not feeling the need to be defensive though I can see how a post like this might ruffle some feathers as everyone has their own opinion.

    Some of my own personal ones just happen to be:

    • I think Steve Jobs has an incredible presentation style.
    • I think the Apple brand and style is second to none, simply brilliant.
    • I think the cult-like mentality that often surrounds a lot of Mac users hurts the product more than helps it. I feel that same way about all products/technologies though, including Firefox which I use often.
    • I think the proof is in the pudding. (The fact that Macs have gone Intel, and that running windows is a major “Feature”)
    • Last but certainly not least, I think a lot of people quick to bash Microsoft likely need a history lesson – back to the days that Microsoft invested in Apple to help them when they were in trouble. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WxOp5mBY9IY
  10. Roger R. says:

    Unrelated: OMG, Hi Shane. Hope life is treating you well. Just stumbled upon your URL and read through some of your blog entries. Congratulations on the upcoming book and fantastic reputation with the SharePoint community. Feel free to email to the attached email.

    Back on Topic:

    I’d have to sit somewhere in the NEUTRAL zone on this one. I totally agree that there are many one-sided mentalities going on in the technology industry with My “Insert Technology Here” is better than yours cuz I say so. The same can be true of PHP vs ASP, Flash vs. Java, DSL vs. Cable and the list goes on. However, as my recent career has lead me into an team environment developing Ajax rich applications in Ruby, many of the developers have recently ordered Mac Minis. In my experience at using a mac there are pros and cons just as there is with windows.

    For any web developer not working in a Microsoft-based client/server environment, Mac OSX offers alot. It comes prepacked with a web server, developer tools and well, it’s shell is BSD. As Eclipse (GNU Editor) has become one of the most popular editors of choice for most programming languages these days, editting software is easy enough to find as this one is java based. However, Textmate (MacOS) is one of the most awesome all around editors I have come across with some amazing features and ingenious hotkey triggers. You’ll find that the majority of the Ruby and/or Ruby on Rails community will tell you that they develop on Mac OSX.

    Obviously the crappy part of a Mac is it’s lack of product base. For you gamers out there, you can pretty much be rest assured that a Windows box is going to your choice over a Mac. This is improving as there are more titles available beyond Wolfenstein on the Mac now, but personally my Vista 64-bit is not going anywhere in regards to gaming.

    There is definitely a misconception that if you design on a Mac, you are going to end up with a better product that windows. Such bullshittery. The end product will be the same, just render vastly differently. I can understand where people get deceived as Mac does a beautiful job at anti-aliasing text compared to PC w/ Windows. This doesn’t matter in the case of graphic editors as you well know though. Photoshop can do what Mac does but not require Mac.

    So anyways, I love both environments for different reasons and will continue to have a Mac Mini and Windows box sharing one keyboard, mouse at work as I really can’t live without my Textmate now. When I come home, it’s complete windows and time to kick back and pwn some nubs on the intertubes.

    Great read, Shane. I really do hope to hear from you.

  11. shane says:

    Hey Roger,

    Dang! Long time man. How/where you been? Let’s catch up in email (shane@graphicalwonder.com). I agree with most of the comments – there is definitely a time and place for everything, it’s just a pity so many people that such a hardnosed approach to any technology, or product.

    I work for a Microsoft shop, I’m an Microsoft MVP and I make a living helping customers find, implement and customize solutions that will better their business. The approach I try to take is keep the technology as transparent as possible. Remaining somewhat technology agnostic allows you to always promote the right solution for the customer and lets face it, at the end of the day, they just want to get the job done, they could care less if we built their solution using legos.

    Because a lot of our customers have heavy investments and licensing agreements with Microsoft already and because Microsoft offers a full gamut of platforms and developer tools to build on, and with, it really just makes sense in a lot of cases for our customers.

    That being said, if I seen a very obvious fit for something else, I have no problems informing the customer of that and working with them to let them make their decision on a best fit. In the long run, if I cannot deliver quality, I’m not interested in delivering anything. :)

    Anyhoo … let’s catch up in email (shane@graphicalwonder.com) – great to hear from you.

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