What is tying me to Windows?

After my adventure with the Bluetooth Headset and Apple today, I was pondering why I still feel so bound to Windows.

As I said, I’ve spent the last several weeks deep in development using only my MacBook. I’ve also said that I have found nothing really that has held me back specifically about OSX and the software I am using on OSX. So why do I still feel such a need to use Windows?

I have broken it down into a few large scope ideals, which I feel might better explain not only my tie to windows, but also other peoples tie as well.

Outlook/Exchange/Windows Mobile. This is a powerful trifecta. The fact that my desktop calendar, contacts, email and tasks are all kept synchronized between any desktop computer I use, and my mobile phone, is something that I feel is a “must have”. Once you have had this experience, you soon learn that anything less would not be acceptable. This setup does also allow for working in groups, so that each person can see and arrange each others calendar, contacts, tasks, and email. Unfortunately this experience is needlessly tided to Windows. First, while Microsoft does make an Exchange client for the Mac (called Entourage), it is quite frankly abysmal when compared to Outlook on the desktop. This is not officially sanctioned Exchange client for Linux, through there are some that get pretty close to working. Also Microsoft has licensed this connectively to other mobile device platforms (most notably the iPhone), it remains to be seen if this will have the same grand unified experience that Windows Mobile has.

I have yet to find a platform that will give me this same level of conveyance outside of the Windows Ecosystem.

Needing to keep current. I have a fear, perhaps an irrational fear, that is I leave the Windows platform, I will start to lose some of my skills in fixing it. My line of work requires that I be out on the sharp end when it comes to knowing how to fix things. If I lose those skills, I lose my livelihood. Using Windows day-in and day-out at least means that I am exposed to it, and through that exposure I have to keep current on the goings on.

I do have a bit of a bad opinion with it comes to Mac users. In my experience, I find that the typical Mac user knows LESS about their computer and how it works, than the typical Windows user. The reason for this disparity actuality lies in superior nature of the Macintosh Operating System. In my experience, hardware fails at the same rate on both Apple and PC, but hardware failures make up only a small fraction of all the problems encountered on a computer. Far and away most problems on a computer are caused my software, and most software problems are caused by “third party” software. I.e. software that did not come from or is not core to the Operating System. The Macintosh Operating System handles problems caused by “third party” software better than the Windows Operating System. As such, Mac OS fails at much slower rate than Windows. But this slower failure rate has a bizarre drawback. Because the Windows user has to deal with more problems than the Mac user, the Windows user is forced to learn more about their computer in order to keep it running.

We can make an argument that the Mac user is better off, because one should not have to know how to rebuild and engine just to drive a car. But I have seen more often than not that a typical Mac user will freak out at the slightest problem with their system, because they are not used to dealing with problems.

Linux Users have the exact opposite problem. They’re computers NEVER run quite right, or more precisely they never leave them alone to run right. As a result they are all de-facto experts on hardware and software. I’ve been using Windows, DOS, and Mac OS all my life, I’ve never had to recompile their Kernel to make my printer work ;) . No, Linux has it’s advantages. It’s an oder of magnitude more secure than Windows, and once running is more stable than OS X.

Quickbooks and Third Party Software. Windows for the past 15 years has been part of a positive feed back cycle. People had Windows, so software vendors wrote more software for Windows, so people bought Windows because more software was available for Windows, etc, etc. There is NO reason why a software developer could not write ANY software for a Mac. Apple hardware running OSX are just as capable as HP hardware running Windows Vista. Intuits Quickbooks is a perfect example of this. Intuit could write a decent version on Quickbooks for Mac, but they really have not. There’s no reason why they couldn’t, they just haven’t. The same could be said of Microsoft and them not writing a good version of Outlook for the Mac, but because they make a sell Windows, I think there is a vested interest there to deny good software to the Mac OS.

Possible Solutions. For the Outlook/Exchange/Windows Mobile problem, I’m hoping that Google will step up soon with services like improved Gmail and their new Android smartphone OS initiative. Apple is trying to do something like that with Mobile Me and the iPhone. So if these two services can come online, there we will have a viable alternative to Exchange.

Quickbooks and Third Party Software most likely is going to become a moot point. With more and more desktop software moving to the “cloud” (meaning it’s software run from a web browser off a server than from a program off the desktop), it would seem that soon only the most basic computer will be needed to run advanced software. Even mighty Quickbooks has a Web 2.0 version which runs in the cloud. Half the features at nearly twice the cost, who wouldn’t jump on that. :)
I know that Needing to keep current is my own irrational fear. No mater what OS i use on my desktop, I will still be working daily with all three of the major systems. As such I’ll have to keep abreast of what’s going on.

In the end what frustrates me most about Windows is not Windows itself, but the fact I feel like I am forced to use Windows. If I had a genuine choice I don’t know that I would leave. But more and more people are starting to feel as I do, monopolized.

Leave a Reply