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Why Mac Users Should Read PC World Magazine (with Apologies to MacToday Magazine)

Rodney O. Lain - 1999.06.23

This article was originally published on The, a site which no longer exists. It is copyright 1999 by RAC Enterprises, which also seems to no longer exist. It is thus reprinted here without permission (which we would gladly obtain if possible). Links have been retained when possible, but many go to the Internet Wayback Machine.

No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.
 - H. L. Mencken, iconcoclast and candidate for a Think Different ad

I'm indebted to MacToday magazine.

If any magazine embodies the spirit of the Apple-loving, PC-hating Mac user, it's got to be this one. Each issue, the staff dishes out information on the Mac while simultaneously lampooning the Wintel community. In a word, these guys have an "attitude." I liked that from the first day that I ran across their website and saw the sub-title that used to grace the front cover: "A PC-bashing, totally-biased look at the Mac."

The paths of kindred spirits met that day; it was an emotional moment for me...

For the last few issues, MacToday has been running what has turned out to be one of my favorite features: they've been quoting from PC World magazine, showing that that rag actually chronicles the woes of being a PeeCee user on a regular basis. The basic premise of the series is this: if you think Mac users are lying to you when we tell you how much of a pain it is to use Windows-based computers, then don't believe us - read it from the horse's mouth. The editors and writers at PC World bash Microsoft, Bill Gates, and Windows as much as MacToday does when it's in rare form. When MacToday first ran this series, I thought they were exaggerating and taking stuff our of context from PC World (not that there's anything wrong with that). Even so, at the end of each of these stories, MacToday encourages you to subscribe to PC World, listing their 1-800 number and subscription price ($19.97).

Sheer comic genius.

Well, since I need to keep abreast of the PC community, I took them up on the suggestion. Besides, it's also good to "know thy enemy." As the Godfather says, "hold your friends close; hold your enemies closer."

Now, as many of you know, I work at CompUSA on the weekends. As the loudest Mac fanatic there, my managers asked me to team up with the Apple rep and teach two sales classes this week, as part of CompUSA's new initiative to brush up its sales staff on things Macintosh. Pressed for time, I needed some unbiased and up-to-date information on how the Mac measures up against the PeeCee. Info that especially tells the ugly truth about Wintel's "ease of use" (to the guys at MacToday: sorry, but I can't always quote you when trying to convert the PeeCee lovers; I've found that it's not always the most effective means of persuasion :-). I couldn't find any such material, and I started to panic, since I needed answers quick.

Solution: I just received the first issue of my PC World subscription today. Hallelujah.

Keeping up with Apple, one year late

People want to disparage Apple because they've abandoned the floppy drive on all desktop and portable Macs. Well, lookee here at what I foundÖ

I turn to the first page of the magazine and see an editorial titled "Kill Floppies, Not Time." Here, PC World's editorial director says that the "3.5-inch floppy disk drive is as ancient as the Dead Sea Scrolls." He goes on to say that an "industry-standard replacement for the 1.44 MB drive is long overdue." He continues his tirade by saying, "One thing's certain: The industry's excuses for staying with 1.44 MB floppies won't fit on a 1.44 MB floppy" (page 19, June 1999 issue).

Wow. PC World is demanding that PeeCee manufacturers get rid of floppies - almost a year after Apple shows the guts and foresight by gets rid of them without any external pressure to do so :-) Now weren't these the same PeeCee journalists people talking about how the iMac was doomed because it had no floppy?

There's a saying about great ideas: when they're first introduced, they're usually considered stupid; when they're inevitably accepted, they're considered obvious.

"What's Good for Micro$oft Is Good for the Nation"

Remember that comment being made when the Department of Justice was telling Micro$oft not to ship Windows 98 with an incorporated Internet "It's-an-Integral-Part-of-the-OS" Explorer? Of course you do. That's "night."

Now, flash forward several months to PC World magazine. That's "day." Put together, that's night-and-day difference in opinion, for those of you who didn't follow meÖ

Before I can even make it through all of the Microsoft- and PeeCee propaganda in the June issue I just received, I get the July 1999 issue. Hey, there's more info/ammo in there for my store presentation; again, it begins with the lead editorial (page 17), this time written by PC World's Editor in Chief. She spreads FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt) about the idea that AT&T has merged with Media One (a large cable company), giving them a monopoly weighing in at "more than 60 percent of households" in America. This isn't the editor's reason for alarm, though: instead, she argues that real threat is the fact that Micro$oft has contracts with the cable conglomerate to provide Windoze 2000 as the server OS for AT&T's venture, as well as providing WebTV support:

The Year 2000 comes and goes with no sign of cable access because Windows 2000 still isn't shipping. On the other hand, if Win 2000 does ship, rebooting your TV suddenly becomes the least of your worries. Now the cable company has to reboot its Win 2000 servers a couple of times a day. Meanwhile, you upgrade Win CE with the latest service pack, though CE still doesn't sync properly with [Win] 2000. Or you need to upgrade your set-top box to handle the new software, but the box you want comes with a Java operating system that refuses to work quite right with Microsoft's software. Then hackers infiltrate the system and broadcast your bedroom activities over the Web, but you can't make your way through voice-mail hell to reach Microsoft and AT&T customer support. And to top it off, you can't decipher your exorbitant cable Internet-TV phone bill, but you think you're getting double-charged. You get the idea (page 17, July 1999 issue).

Oh I get the idea; I really do. Folks, I am not making this stuff up.

Internet "Exploder"?

Page 45 has an article titled "Internet Explorer 5 Survival Guide." Here's just an example of the nuisances that users must face with the latest upgrade to the browser that Micro$oft gave away for free in order to crush Netscape:

Bug: Web pages appear blank or only partially rendered, even though IE 5 displays a 'Done' message in the status bar

Bug: Outlook Express 5.0 mail and news reader lacks a spelling checker

PC World on Micro$oft Windows: Thanks, but No Thanks

The cover story for this July issue is "Best of '99." Under the section "Business Software," I had to laugh when I read that the pick for "Best Operating System" had the following response given: None, Sorry (their emphases, not mine).

So, let me get this straight: even though it's the only mainstream OS for the PeeCee, with no competition for the mainstream user, Micro$oft can't even be ranked the best OS out of a field of one! And to add insult to injury, right under that entry, there is a "Best Application Suite" spot, in which PC World voted for Microsoft Office 97. We're not sold on [Office] 2000 yet" (again, their emphasis).

On the bottom of this same page (page 105) is also PC World's "No-Class Awards." Two men shared the award: Vice President Al Gore and world ruler Bill Gates. PC World notes that during the anti-trust trial, Billy Gates failed to remember the meaning of the words "competition," "bugs," "backwards compatible," and "the product will be released on time." The best line Bill Gates quote of all: "I have no idea what you're talking about when you say 'ask.'"

Again, I am not making this up.

Coincidence . . . or Conspiracy?

I could go on, but then I don't want to reveal and steal all of MacToday's material for their next column on PC World. And, also, I'm stopping because I now have more than enough material for my CompUSA presentation.

Jim Workman and Scott Kelby (co-editors in chief of MacToday), thank you for advising readers to subscribe to that fine magazine (don't worry; I subscribed to yours long ago ;-).

And you, gentle reader, if you're getting the urge to buy a PeeCee, first be sure to get a subscription to PC World, the magazine that gives you "a PC-bashing, totally-biased look at the Mac."

"PC-bashing," hunh?

Wonder if they need an additional columnist?

Rodney O. Lain, a former university English and journalism instructor, works full-time as a software developer and works part-time at a local CompUSA Apple Store Within A Store. A card-carrying member of the local Macintosh User Group Mini'app'les, Rodney writes this column exclusively for His greatest desire is to become an African-American Guy Kawasaki. A self-professed "workaholic writer," he waxes prolifically about race, religion, and the "right OS" at "Free Your Mind & Your Behind Will Follow", his unabashedly pro-Mac website. When he's not cranking out his column, he collects John Byrne comic books, jogs, and attempts to complete his first novel. He lives in Eagan, Minnesota, a southern suburb of St. Paul.

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