It’s always fun to watch Apple and Microsoft slug it out in the advertising space - here in the UK we mostly have to do this via YouTube, since apart from a short stint of amusing Mitchell and Webb Apple ads and those pretty bland “I’m A PC” ripostes, we don’t really see the front-line assaults which take place on US TV screens.
So I hear that MS have a new set of ads out, where “regular” people go and look for a laptop, whereby they look at the Mac and say “whoah, far too expensive!” and then go and buy a Dell instead. Fair enough, the 3rd party PC market certainly gives you a wider choice of blending specifications than Apple does - in practice, Macs aren’t actually much different in price to a similarly specced PC, it’s just that all the components are generally of similar ‘grade’ - so you can’t cut corners to save money like buying something with a big screen but a crappy GPU, or a large HD with a slow motherboard, or a fast CPU but crappy battery life. Of course, many people don’t realise they’re making these sacrifices and just look at the price - but if you do know what you’re doing, you can tailor a machine closer to your needs. Anyway, I enjoyed the “Homeless Frank” spoof of these new ads:
A couple of years ago I would have made the same arguments against the Mac that MS makes with it’s Laptop Hunter series; and indeed I did, when a Mac-owning friend tried to convince me to buy one, despite being a .Net guru (who now works for Microsoft!). However, now that I’ve owned a Mac for almost 2 years, I feel completely different - in a laptop at least, I’m very willing to sacrifice a little configuration flexibility in favour of having a device that is of uniformly good quality, and is nice to use. After all, laptops are always compromised in terms of upgradability once you’ve bought them, so it’s generally better to buy something decent from the outset anyway.
I know that buying a Mac laptop is going to encourage me to spend a little more money than I otherwise might get away with. But, what I get for that is a really nice device, that has the added bonus of being able to run OS X as well as Windows. I still use Windows every day, almost exclusively because of Visual Studio these days (and some games) since everything else I use runs on the Mac too anyway, but running both Windows and OS X on the same machine merely serves to make me love OS X more, despite still being a newbie with it in many ways. Windows is fine to use and all, but there’s something about the way OS X just gets out of the way, doesn’t pester me with stupid warnings all the time, doesn’t need a virus scanner to slow it down, allows me to unmount my USB drives without hunting down every Explorer window that is using it first, and countless other little things that have slowly endeared me to it despite being a total skeptic to begin with. I’m a technical guy by nature, but even I can appreciate technology that doesn’t waste my time with trivial stuff I don’t want to care about - and at the end of the day Windows (and Linux) still feels like it’s designed for “PC users”, whilst OS X feels like it’s designed for people, specifically people with stuff to do other than worrying about keeping the computer happy. The day that XCode equals Visual Studio in functionality (it’s not far off, but it’s not there yet), and I can run Steam on OS X, is the day I might seriously consider not using Windows on a daily basis anymore. But, we’ll see whether Windows 7 changes that view.