Some Thoughts on Going PC

It is with mixed emotions that I join Low End Mac’s transition to Low End Win. After all, I’ve spent so much time and effort over the past eight years evangelizing the Mac and doing my best to convince anyone who would listen that Windows is an inferior alternative to the Mac experience.

Miscellaneous Ramblings

Some Thoughts on Going PC

Charles W. Moore – 1 April 2000

Low End Win logoIt is with mixed emotions that I join Low End Mac’s transition to Low End Win. After all, I’ve spent so much time and effort over the past eight years evangelizing the Mac and doing my best to convince anyone who would listen that Windows is an inferior alternative to the Mac experience.

However, times change, and one has to decide if one wants to change with them or be left behind. In this case, my respect for the judgment of our fearless editor and publisher, Dan Knight, has been a strong influential factor in my decision. Dan is a pretty savvy guy, and if he’s determined that Windows is the future of this website, I guess I’m along for the ride, misgivings notwithstanding.

Of course, that poses the immediate dilemma of learning Windoze – whoops, sorry – I mean Windows (old habits die hard). Of course I know all the usual Mac user conventional wisdom about Windows, and I’ve even read and reviewed Adam Engst and David Pogue’s recent book, “Crossing Platforms” (http://www.oreilly.co m/catalog/platforms/index.html), which I no doubt will be frequently using as a reference work as I feel my way down this new and unfamiliar path in the weeks to come. (Memo to self: It might also be a good idea to rustle up a copy of Windows For Dummies).

There’s also the matter of procuring a Windows machine. I mean, it would be a bit disingenuous to try and pass myself off as an authoritative writer on Windows topics while continuing to work on a Mac. I suppose as a stopgap I can always get a copy of Virtual PC and wing it on the PowerBook.

Well, on the bright side, I’ve long admired various models of “thin” PC laptops over on the Dark Side, er, I mean the PC orbit. And then there’s those new 1 GHz Athlon and Pentium chips. Very cool. Perhaps the new hardware advantage on the PC side is what convinced Dan to make the move.

However, I am going to have some problems adjusting to the Windows user interface, which I’ve always genuinely considered plug-ugly, unintuitive, and plain awkward. Hey, Dan, do we have to be Low End Win? I mean, Low End PC would give us a lot more latitude. [Sorry, Charles, we're after market share here. Windows has it; the Mac OS, Linux, and BeOS don't. dk] We could cover the various Linuxes, some of which I hear are very nice, even borderline user-friendly. And did you hear that Be is now giving the Be OS away? Be is by all accounts a very nice OS. Indeed, it was strongly rumored that Apple was once seriously considering it as the basis of their new operating system, and it even made the cover of Macworld back in ’87. Used to run on the Mac too, until Steve decided he didn’t want any competition and refused to supply Be with the information they needed to support G3 and later machines. Sigh.

Ah well, speaking of 1997, I must confess that when things were looking bleak for Apple prior to the Jobs coup de etat, I actually was perusing PC catalogues and brochures trying to figure out which PC laptop (that was before the days of the Vaio and its slimline cousins) would make the least objectionable replacement for my PowerBook 5300. So I’ve been through this before. Sort of.

However, maybe its not so bad. After all, there has been a lot of slippage toward PC standards on the Mac side over the past few years anyway, what with the adoption of PCI, IDE hard drives, and so on. USB was invented buy Intel, wasn’t it? Then there’s the Jobsian pact with Microsoft, resulting in the euthanization of CyberDog and substitution of Internet Explorer as the Mac OS default browser. And look at the new IE 5 for the Macintosh, with its 16 point font size and 96 dpi defaults. Right out of the PC play book, dontcha’ know. Perhaps the adaptation process won’t be so difficult after all. It’s been going on insidiously for some time anyway.

And of course I haven’t even mentioned OS X yet. Lots of people have commented that its Aqua interface is a major shift toward Windows conventions, what with the Dock (yes I know that the Dock came from NeXT originally but hardly anybody ever used NeXT), no real drives on the desktop, and so on. We’re going to be obliged to make some pretty big adjustments soon anyway, so Low End moving to Windows or whatever just means getting a head start, I guess.

There’s also going to be an element of emancipation in making this move. I will no longer feel constrained to correct the great, unwashed, Windoze – dows – using masses, and instruct them in the error of their ways. No more stem-winding explanations of why the Mac is superior to Windows. No more brushing off the insults of the supercilious PC-loving ignorami.

As with Winston Smith in 1984, after the Ministry of Love got through with him, “it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother.”

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