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June 15, 2000
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Call for Balance
I'm a die-hard Mac guy since 1985, and an AAPL investor since 1997 (bought in at 17 when it was purely a leap of faith). Now, maybe it's because there's not much AAPL news, or because everyone's caught up in the Microsoft trial, whatever, but it seems to me there's been a general increase in gratuitous Windows bashing around here lately. I can bash with the best of them, but I think overall it's counter productive. Here's my (totally unsolicited) $.02.
Way back in the 90s, I (and most of my Mac using cohorts in the creative arts) openly disliked Microsoft and Windows; and I took every opportunity to engage in long and fruitless debates with "benighted" Windows users over the merits of Mac vs. PC. This was, I felt perfectly understandable. I was frustrated, angered and disheartened to see what I felt was an infinitely superior platform being daily pushed toward insignificance by what I felt was an inferior one. Kind of like a Betamax owner watching the rental stores gradually phase out titles that would play on his (everyone admitted) superior machine.
What I couldn't understand was why PC users hated the Mac so much. What the hay? I would wonder, they've won. Why are they so pissed? Well, it finally dawned on me that in this regard we Mac evangelist types were our own worst enemy. By constantly belittling their choice of computer, by persisting in calling it Winblows or Windoze, by forever pointing out how marvelously superior the Mac was in every regard, all we accomplished was to annoy, alienate and entrench the Wintel using masses against us. When THE BAD TIME came and it looked like Apple would go out of business, they were more than happy to dance on its grave, and in retrospect some of their glee is understandable.
If you drive a Honda and your co worker drives a Chevy, and you spend a part of every day belittling his car, calling it a piece of crap, pointing out great features of your car that his car lacks, etc., not only will he soon grow tired of you, but odds are he will not be any more inclined to go look at Hondas next time he needs a car. Particularly if he's satisfied with his Chevy.
So. Like I said, I used to evangelize. I used to demean Wintel at every opportunity. I bemoaned the ascendance of the buggy, slow, bloated, crash-prone Windoze OS. I was ruthless with any acquaintance of mine who bought a PC.
But guess what? I got over it. I accepted the fact that Windows does pretty what most people need done by a computer. I even accepted that for many people a Wintel computer was the right choice (my parents, for example, who have a Windows guru (my brother) around the corner and a Mac guru (me) 400 miles away). I just prayed that Apple would stay in business so I could still buy new Macs for myself as long as I needed as computer.
And then a miracle occurred. Steve returned. The company got focused, built better products, regained mindshare, profitability, respectability. Marketshare and mainstream status are in progress. The internet helped make OS choice less relevant. The Mac came back. The future looks bright. I've stopped worrying about whether I'd be able to buy a Mac when the old one's obsolete.
IMO, the vitriolic OS Wars mentality of the past serves no purpose today. A balanced, cooperative approach goes further in restoring the Mac's (and the Mac User's) credibility. So as to avoid repeating the sins of the past, I offer my simple guidelines for coexisting (and, yes, thriving) in what is (still) a Wintel world:
1) Try to avoid that tone of smug superiority. People hate smug superiority. I know. I used to ooze smug superiority when discussing computers with my PC using brethren. Looking back I know it just caused indignation and defensiveness, and further entrenched them in their views.
2) Eschew gratuitous rhetoric and blanket assumptions about Windows and Windows users. Give your honest advice and opinions when asked but resist the urge to lob stink bombs into the Windows camp just for the fun of it. (This would include trolling on the Microsoft board)
3) Accept the fact that many people are perfectly (and justifiably) happy with their Wintel PCs, and it's not necessarily because they never tried a Mac, or they don't have all the facts, or they're just idiots. People tend to be comfortable with what they know, and those who learned computing on Windows are often baffled by the Mac (and vice versa). This is natural, and I think understandable.
There. I've had my say. Sorry to be so long winded. I'll go now.
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