Mac Musings

Confessions of a Microsoft User

Confession by John J. Halbig

I have a horrid confession to make: I like Microsoft Word. Oh, and I balance my budget at home using Excel spreadsheets. And I use MSIE for my web browsing.

Wow, I feel as though a great weight has lifted from my shoulders - it's been a heck of a burden knowing I use those products. I mean, they're not all I use - I also use Claris, Adobe, Aladdin, Metroworks, Symantec, and countless shareware and small developer items fill my hard drive. And probably a lot more bug names that don't come to mind, simply because they don't carry the burden of bearing the mark of the "Evil Empire".

I tried to use something other than Microsoft. I used Navigator for awhile, but MSIE fit me better, as did Word and Excel over their competition. "Fit" is an important way of putting it, because I don't really endorse those products as "one size fits all", but as my particular choices. Nor are those choices graven in stone: If something better came along, I would switch. For example, I use Photoshop, but TIFFany for Rhapsody has got me salivating with tricks and tools I didn't know I needed until I saw them in action. That's the nature of progress.

I'm always checking out the alternatives for that very reason, even looking at new versions of software that I rejected before. Emailer was like that - 1.0 simply could not meet my needs, but 2.0 did the trick and Eudora was out the door.

The problem with demonizing Bill Gates and Microsoft has always been that broad brush that we've applied because of Windows. Windows still sucks. The Mac OS is still better. But since the keynote address at this years Macworld Boston, I'm getting quite a few notes filled with fear and loathing, as if Steve stepped up onto the stage and endorsed Windows.

That's not the case, people. He stopped a rivalry that was hurting Apple, and endorsed a company that sold over a BILLION dollars in Mac OS software last year. And people have accused us of selling our souls, of giving up.

Folks, we have given up nothing, and have everything to gain. Microsoft has no control over Apple, is paying us for the patents it uses, and has given us an endorsement that, along with a killer board, pushed our stock back up to a point that makes a buyout darn near totally improbable. We already were shipping both Netscape and MSIE with the OS, we just made MSIE a default - but people still have a choice.

I know its hard, but the war is over, and it's time to stop hating "the enemy". We have new goals now, and must put it behind us. One person who was kind enough to engage in a debate on the topic (hi Judith! I hope you survive that week in Turkey without your PowerBook :), pointed out she was determined to avoid having every piece of software on her computer be from Microsoft. Yet she was willing to admit that some of it already was, and considering that MS is selling a lot of Mac software, I'll bet a lot of you do as well. Even before this week I've posted MS press releases, and Guy has listed MSIE as a software pick on the EvangeList web site for the last 8+ months. Yes, I've gotten grief for that too.

So, what a true believer to do?

Realize that it's entirely possible to beat the pants off of Microsoft in the OS department, but they can still make lots of money. After all, I suspect that if MS stopped selling Windows tomorrow they would still be a major player. It's a big market, and it's getting much bigger, and will continue to grow for years to come. Perhaps this is a sign of a new maturity in the market, the realization that this is a big enough playground for us all to play in . . . and prosper. That's what Steve meant when he said that Microsoft doesn't have to lose for Apple to win - that there's room for choice.

In the meantime, I can finally come out of the closet about some of my software choices - and so should you. You have nothing to lose, but that nagging guilty feeling of disloyalty you've been suffering from. :-)

John J. Halbig
(aka the Digital Guy)
e-mail:


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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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