I’ve just about had enough of Microsoft. After 20 years I think my next desktop computer will be a Macintosh. I know such a statement is sacrilege to many of my clients and colleagues, but please hear me out.
I’ve been using computers to write my manuscripts and organize my life since 1981, when I purchased an Apple II+ computer outfitted with a special operating system (CPM), developed by a small software company in Washington State, called Microsoft. CPM allowed me to use a very powerful (for 1981) word processing program, called Spellbinder. Of course, the Apple computer also ran Applesoft, where I learned a lot about computers, generally, and some programming, specifically.
As it turned out, CPM was the precursor to MS DOS which powered the IBM PCs and clones which came on the scene a few months after I had purchased my Apple. A few years later for business reasons, I purchased a PC clone and adopted MS DOS as my operating system–quickly followed by the more user friendly Windows in its various versions. Since then, I have owned five MS DOS/Windows PCs and one laptop.
For a while, it looked like Apple was having trouble competing with the PC and its clones. However, from the start, Microsoft had trouble with software programs messing with the operating system, and in many cases causing trouble with other programs. But these paled in comparison to the problems that occurred when people started connecting to the Internet in mass in the 1990s. In the meantime, Apple developed the Macintosh computer with a much tighter operating system that required programmers to adjust to certain standards that protected all Mac programmers and their users.
Because MS had the lion’s share of the computer market, it was a target of viruses, Trojan horses and other threats available over the Internet. It also didn’t help that DOS and Windows were full of holes that allowed these threats access to the operating system. Meanwhile Apple was largely immune to these threats because unauthorized access was much more difficult.
Now, again because of the overwhelming market share MS enjoyed (largely due to superior marketing, not necessarily quality), I was content to continue buying MS based PCs, largely in hope that MS would eventually clean up their act. Well, I’ve been waiting and waiting and I’m afraid Windows XP is the last straw.
Here is what I have to put up with day in and day out — causing me to curse the name of Microsoft and Bill Gates, daily (if not more often):
1. It takes about 20 minutes for my computer to start in the morning, while first Windows loads and then all the other programs who have decided for themselves that they need to be residing in the background of my precious RAM memory. Some of these programs are necessary stuff, such as my Symantec Norton System Works, which protects Windows from an assortment of threats. Yes, I have used System Works to shut off many of these unnecessary programs, but Norton alone still takes time to load. And I dare not do anything on the Internet until the Norton protection is up.
2. My work is regularly interrupted by both MS and Norton while they download and install (often requiring a reboot) updates to their programs. These operations used to not bother me as I realized they were helpful. But as my Windows XP becomes older, it seems that MS and Norton keeps finding more and more gaping holes in its security. Also, if I wasn’t on dial-up (high-speed Internet is not available where I live, despite the promises of a very tired provincial government), these changes may not be so hard to bear.
3. I am becoming progressively ‘new program shy’ as I fear loading a new program, or even an upgrade, will blow away some feature of a non-related program. Again, MS does not control what one program can do to the .dll files (for example) of other programs. And this does not just happen between programs of differing companies. On several occasions when I have downloaded an XP update, I have found some of my MS programs no longer function as they should (as just happened the other day). On one occasion I had to use Norton GoBack to return my system to its state before I installed the Windows update, so I could continue to use my MS Office software. Does not the right hand of MS know what the left hand is doing?
4. I thought that perhaps the new MS Vista would be the lifesaver I have been looking for all these years–where MS would demonstrate it has finally gotten its act together. Sorry, the reviews are in, and if anything, it appears Vista is worse than XP. God, MS can’t even copy a good idea well!
So, I think I’ll jump to the competition. The few Mac users I know are quite happy with their machines. They do the same work PCs do, plus better quality graphics. The ease of use is legendary. I need a break from the MS tierany.