Sound Bytes in Seattle

Mac takes bite out of Windows by Paul Andrews of The Seattle Times includes a few words from yours truly:

Hardly a week goes by that I don’t hear from a friend or colleague with a monumental Windows problem. I tell them I’m glad to help, on one condition: Next time they buy a computer, they agree to consider a Macintosh…

“There’s huge awareness among the general public about how much [Windows] PCs have been compromised,” said Tony Bove, author of a new book, “Just Say No To Microsoft” (No Starch Press, $24.95). “My mother knows about it, and she’s not even a computer user.”

Note that we’re talking mostly about personal use, not corporate. Most newspaper reporters and other enterprise workers I know use Windows because their employers supply them with Windows.

Custom Windows applications also keep users from switching, Bove said. But he expects many apps will become Web-based over time, meaning any computer can access them….

For now, anecdotal evidence suggests something is going on. Bove likes to tell Windows sufferers, “It’s not your fault. But it is your problem.”

This idea is not new — I cribbed it from the 12-step program model pioneered by Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.) in the 1930s, which has become the most widely used and successful approach for dealing with addictive behaviors, and it serves as a useful guide for weaning yourself of Microsoft software. One chapter of my book, Just Say No to Microsoft, provides all 12 steps. Here’s step 1: It is not your fault, but it is your problem. Admit you are powerless over your addiction — and that your computer system and software have become unmanageable.

Indeed. Douglas Adams, author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, said it much better in his essay on Windows 95:

Even the best designed systems can be a nightmare to upgrade, but whatever things Microsoft may be famous for — the wealth of its founder, the icy grip he exerts on what is arguably the most important industry on this planet — good systems design is not, as it happens, one of them.

The last time I visited my mother, my aunt who needed a computer was also visiting. She had not taken my previous advice to get a Mac; now she was perplexed by this new Windows computer. “It was all set up for me to check email and browse the Web,” she said like a champ, “but I don’t know the first thing about doing anything else.”

“Good luck with that,” I said.

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