Mac Musings

Divorcing Windows?

Dan Knight - 2004.08.06 - Tip Jar

My first wife was unhappy with our relationship for some time, but I was the last to know. She told her close friends how bad she thought things were but made no attempt to address those issues with me. Today we're divorcing.

A lot of Windows users are unhappy with their computing experience and have been for some time. Viruses. Spyware and adware. Security issues. Service packs. Stability issues. And did I mention viruses?

Do they complain to Microsoft? I doubt it, but I know they complain to each other about system crashes, the ongoing cost of antivirus subscriptions, Microsoft's delays in completing service packs - you name it.

Yet most of them remain married to Windows and would never consider divorcing it. It's good enough most of the time, and they accept the problems as the necessary price for the convenience of using a computer.

There is a better way, but until they're fed up with the current situation, they're not going to look for an alternative. They'll continue to complain while remaining faithful to Redmond.

There is a great opportunity to evangelize the Mac OS among disaffected Windows users. Although Windows can be more stable than a lot of Mac users would like to admit and OS X isn't bulletproof, the Mac OS is a lot more robust than Windows XP and a lot less susceptible to infection.

But most Windows users don't know that. They don't see Apple as a significant player, and they may be under the impression that the Mac simply isn't a business computer. Wrong on both counts, but we're talking impressions.

Pretty much any task done on a Windows PC can be done on the Mac. In fact, in some ways the Mac version of Microsoft Office is a better tool than the Windows version. And OS X has a lot less vectors that worms, viruses, and the like can use to infect a computer.

If Apple won't take the bull by the horns, Mac users need to resume the role of evangelists. We don't want to hit people over the head with "Macintosh Superiority" - after all, how many people become Christians because someone accosts them with the gospel? We need to be a bit more subtle than that, but not timid.

"You have to find and download a service pack? My Mac automatically checks for updates every week."

"You've been infected by the latest virus? To date there hasn't been a single virus for OS X found in the wild."

"Yeah, I can run your PowerPoint presentation on my Mac. But have you seen Apple's Keynote presentation software?"

"The people who make your iPod also make a pretty great computer...."

We don't want to do it with a heavy hand, but we want to make sure that they know Macs exist, Macs can do the work they do, and Macs have a lot less problems and downtime than Windows computers. If they're looking for a better computing experience, Apple offers it.

That's not to say these disaffected users will become switchers. There may be tasks and programs for which Windows is the better solution - I know it is for a few of my own online tasks, although I generally prefer to use a Mac.

We don't need to create switchers, though, just choosers. People who will choose to try a Mac, learn its strengths and weaknesses, and choose to use their Mac more and more often - although they may never entirely divorce Windows and abandon their old hardware.

Because of this, it's a great thing that Macs can so graciously coexist with Windows PCs. Turn on file sharing, move your Windows files to your new Mac, and you can be working with your documents and spreadsheets in a matter of minutes.

Maybe some of these choosers will eventually become full fledged switchers, but that's not the point at all. The point is getting them to try a Mac in the first place, discover the Mac advantage, and choose to use the Mac more and more often.

And they, in turn, will tell others how they moved to the Mac without leaving Windows completely behind, although they'll probably never tell Microsoft about their new allegiance.

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Dan Knight has been using Macs since 1986, sold Macs for several years, supported them for many more years, and has been publishing Low End Mac since April 1997. If you find Dan's articles helpful, please consider making a donation to his tip jar.

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