I’m a Mac user. It’s not a religious thing, I just like that they work. But I want to have that out in the open so you don’t think this is supposed to be a totally objective piece.
Now and then, I’m compelled to use a computer that runs Microsoft’s new operating system, Windows 7. Windows 7, like all of its predecessors, were all purported to be “The Mac Buster”. You hear it every few years, whenever Microsoft invests in buzz campaigns to get everyone hyped for the next big disappointment (Nate is a conspiracy theorist, and he thinks that Microsoft is doing it to inflate their stock so they can sell short after everyone realizes, for the umpteenth time, that Windows will always suck.) “Yeah, Millenium Edition sucked, but XP going to be The Mac Buster.” “XP was pretty good, but Vista is going to be The Mac Buster!” “Okay, Vista was a complete disaster, but 7 is going to be The Mac Buster.” Seriously, you hear it all the time. For readers who don’t get in to this sort of thing, “The Mac Buster” alludes to the mythical Microsoft operating system that’s going to be more reliable, user-friendly, and just plain cool than Apple’s triumphant OSX, which has totally dominated (and when I say “dominated”, I mean “gobbled up market share relative to prior standings”) the specialty computing world for the past decade.
So I’m currently working on a laptop running Windows 7. And I’m saving my work every thirty seconds. That’s because not ten minutes ago I had typed about a page in our site’s CMS for publication when Windows 7 suddenly – and sponaneously – closed all my programs. In its Mac Busting wisdom, Windows 7 saw that an update had come out that it just had to have, so it went ahead and rebooted with no regard for my needs or all the brilliant writing I had done.
I know I should be saving my work anyway, because you never know when there’s going to be an accident at the power plant that causes a huge electrical surge that mysteriously bypasses all the transformers and stuff, causing by breakers to trip and me to lose power. I know. We’re always telling people to save their work. I also know there’s probably a configuration somewhere that will allow me to restrict my auto-updater from comandeering my computer on a whim. But on my Mac, Software Updater is trained to ask, first of all, whether you want the new software at all (Sometimes updates render other programs incompatible, so it’s nice to be able to politely, but firmly, decline them.). And if you say yes, OSX will quietly install them around the corner while you, the user, continue to work on whatever it is you’re doing. And when it’s finished, if a reboot is required, OSX will ask you whether you want to do it now to get it out of the way, or if it should just make a little note and remember to activate the new software the next time you log out.
I know that Macs are more expensive. People rant about how their Dell laptop cost half what the Macbook with similar specs did (By ‘specs’ I mean the numbers on the Walmart tag next to words like ‘RAM’ and ‘hard disk’.). But every Mac user knows that OSX runs almost twice as efficiently, meaning the average task on myMac takes half the time it does on your Dell. Aside from this little anecdote, a simple cost-benefit analysis reveals that the time my Windows 7 champion wastes jerking me around costs me more in a week than I would have spent buying the better computer. If your time is billable, and your computer is wasting your time, you can count the savings pretty easily. My PC just burned a half-hour of work when it kicked me out of my CMS. Then I burned another twenty minutes retaliating with this article, which, at our billing rate of $175 an hour comes to $145.83. Four more episodes like this, which are sure to happen if I don’t take this thing out in the desert today and shoot it, and I would have been financially ahead buying the smarter, faster, and sexier Mac.