I'm certainly not the first person to make this declarative statement, and I certainly won't be the last: I'm done with Microsoft Windows PCs. Done. Over. Once my current array of four Windows XP computers die, it's all Mac from that point forward.
The awesomeness of the new iPad and another weekend wasted on brain-melting Windows repairs have convinced me that it's time for a big change.
Like an abused spouse, I've put up with my relationship with Windows for far too long. Through too many data losses to count (I once lost an entire independent movie I had directed and edited), through too many inexplicable crashes, viruses, and too many days spent reinstalling from boot discs and jury-rigging back-end technology I'll never fully understand, I've endured one insult after another. One crushing meltdown too many.
This past weekend ran the gamut of well-known PC frustrations.
It began with my wife and I each being simultaneously nailed with a trojan horse on our notebook PCs. Who knows where it came from since we're both running all of the important safeguards: firewalls and redundant anti-virus and anti-malware programs.
Nevertheless, the virus was somehow redirecting all of our Google searches to ad sites, and generally making our browsers (Google Chrome) seize up. This, of course, eliminated the ability to even search for what was going on.
In addition to the search and seizure malfunctions, the trojan my wife contracted actually changed her desktop wallpaper, locked out her screen properties box, and disabled her task manager.
After hours of scanning and fixing and editing registry entries to turn on her task manager, the virus never fully disappeared so -- boom -- we had no choice but to engage the dreaded nuclear option. A clean wipe and reinstall of Windows. That meant a second day wasted backing up her important files onto discs. Then a half-day wasted reformatting the drive and reinstalling Windows.
Even the nuclear option process was a nightmare. The back-up disc worked just fine, but the store-bought Windows XP Professional upgrade disc wouldn't fully load the installation files. So how did I finally get the files to load?
They don't tell you this in the help files, but I rubbed the CD on my shirt. On my shirt! Bingo. The files continued to load for several minutes, then nothing. So I finally popped the disc into my big Boxx Technologies video editing workstation (which has been quite reliable so far, knock on wood) and burned a CD-R copy of the proprietary, copyrighted Microsoft disc. Sue me, Mr. Gates. It copied perfectly and I was able to finish the installation with the kinda-pirated disc.
None of this should ever have to happen. My shirt and an illegal copy of an installation disc rescued my wife's computer? I felt like I was the professor from Gilligan's Island, fabricating a radio out of coconut husks.
Sadly, as if that wasn't enough, the fate of my notebook PC wasn't nearly as positive. I tried to reboot the machine in something called "Safe Mode," but then the computer somehow became trapped in a horrible endless loop. It would load to a certain point, then automatically reboot. Over and over. What's more is that it wouldn't load from the back-up files allegedly contained on "the back-up partition," which I'm told is a hidden area of the hard drive that contains the appropriate reinstallation files. And gremlins, apparently. Bottom line, I have to buy a disc with the installation files for $20 from the manufacturer.
Having owned dozens of computers throughout my professional career in new media, this process has become almost a matter of hideous routine. Like a non-fatal form of cancer, every six months or so there's a Windows meltdown.
The previous instance occurred, by the way, when my wife's brand new (at the time) HP notebook running the hideously clunky and resource intensive Windows Vista would mysteriously overheat after about 30 minutes of usage and simply shut off. Why? Partly because of Vista beating the processor to a bloody pulp, and partly because the fan/air intake vent was positioned on the bottom -- on the underside of the machine where, you know, there's no air. Smart.
I've always been reluctant to switch over to Apple, though. During the middle-1990s, I worked for a post-production studio in Philadelphia that was entirely Mac based. The experience there wasn't so much one of productivity as of sitting around waiting. Because the machines were constantly crashing. I'd never worked on a set of computers more buggy than those Macs.
Meanwhile, end users who consume Web content and new media have generally been PC owners. Even today, only around 5% of computer owners are using Macs. So there was always a compatibility issue. Would my PC clients see what I was seeing on the Macs at the post-production house? At the time, when a variety of plug-ins like Flash weren't standard across all platforms as they are today, probably not.
And finally, there's the pricing issue. PCs are significantly cheaper out of the box than Macs, which run upwards of $2,800, compared to around $699 for a comparable Microsoft Windows PCs. A fact that Microsoft hasn't been shy about ballyhooing recently.
But I wonder how much money I've invested in additional Windows software -- from anti-virus software to, most recently, the reinstallation disc I'm going to be ordering. Say nothing of the weeks upon weeks that I've wasted trouble-shooting these computers. Suddenly, $2,800 sounds comparatively inexpensive.
Pricing excuses or not, I've stuck with Microsoft.
Not any more. I'm done.
Just as soon as the machines I own today begin to seize up and crap out their last blue screen of death, I will become yet another newly anointed Mac user.
The contrast between these two behemoth companies is screaming out in favor of Macs. The iPod and the iPhone are huge successes (minus the piss poor decision to go with AT&T instead of Verizon).
And while Apple continues to innovate and become increasingly stable, powerful and user-friendly, PCs are nose-diving fast. The Vista debacle is just the latest example. No operating system should suck down system resources like Vista did. There's no excuse for such a blunder.
Microsoft has stolen entire days, if not weeks, of my life, and, to quote Network, "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore." And while I'll never get all of that time back, I can make a clean break and start a new life -- a life that won't necessarily include wiping discs with my shirt.
So bring on the iPad and continued innovations from the Apple people. Trust me. I'll be there soon.