Mac Scope

Windows Stability: Nothing Really Changes

Stephen Van Esch - 2004.05.12

It's been some time since I've used Windows with any regularity. I can't say I've missed it terribly. About the only time I need to go near Windows is when my Dad needs a hand with his machine.

After a couple of years of using a Mac at home and at work, I recently started using Windows at work once more. After so long an absence, I figured I'd give Windows a chance.

After all, things have apparently improved considerably since I used NT 4.0. My new machine had Windows 2000 Professional on it, so how bad could it be?

Well, it seems the stability gap between Macs and PCs has grown rather than diminished. Since I bought my PowerBook more than two years ago, I've developed the habit of leaving my machine on all the time. I'll occasionally reboot the machine, but that's usually only after I've installed new software. The last time I had a kernel panic was about a year ago.

Let's contrast this with the new Dell machine I was given at my current workplace. It's a brand new machine with a fresh Windows 2000 Professional install.

My job requires a considerable number of applications that aren't on the company's regular list, so I spent a little while kitting it out to suit my requirements. Things went swimmingly for the first couple of weeks.

Granted, Windows is an extremely ugly thing to look at all day long, but it's not like it doesn't let you get al least some work done. And if reviews are to be believed, Windows 2000 and XP are much more stable than Windows 98 and NT.

Well, from personal experience, things haven't become a whole lot better.

It all started pretty innocuously. Windows Explorer would occasionally quit unexpectedly. Not a huge deal. Protected memory is a wonderful thing, after all.

Last week this innocuous little problem became a serious one. Consecutive crashes became the norm. System lockups also became a problem.

A visit from the friendly tech support guy yielded exactly no answers. Result: A new image was pushed onto my system, and I spent half the day getting things back to normal.

Recall that this is a new machine with a reasonably modern operating system. Also recall that my Mac workhorse is at least two years older than the bundle of parts on my desk.

I'm not one to criticize people's choice of operating systems. I personally think people should use whatever they feel comfortable using.

For me that's a Mac.

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Stephen Van Esch is the founder and president of the E-learning Foundry, an online training resource for Mac users. Steve loves the Mac and is doubly bilingual, since he's also fluent in Windows and French.

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