IN the odd online forum that I sometimes hang about in, the most frequently trolled subject is the old "Mac vs. PC" debate, to which the answer, of course, is fuck off.
B recently got a laptop through work, a Tosh, with Windows XP on it. Of course, because I know everything about the Mac, she assumes I will be able to help her with problems on the Tosh, but I just can't. Partly this is because just seeing Windows XP in front of my eyes sends me into a blind rage, and partly this is because I just cannot fathom an operating system that treats its users like imbeciles.
In my mind, Windows treats people like idiots because only idiots buy machines running Windows. You will not get a rational argument out of me on this subject, so don't try. Any email that goes, "But blah blah blah PCs Windows Intel blah blah," will evoke the two word reply.
First of all, it looks horrible, okay? It looks like it was put together by a colourblind 11 year old who thinks he is Jesus. It's garish and tasteless and makes me feel bilious. Also, all versions of Windows suffer from the "We didn't copy this off Apple, you know" syndrome. So things are different not because they're better that way, but because they just have to be different. That Start menu rubbish is just the stupidest idea on earth.
But I could go on for days about how much I hate it and nobody would be won over. What I simply will never understand is why so many people consent to be patronised by an operating system that assumes, no matter what your experience, that you don't know what you're doing and want Windows to do everything for you. It's a disease that extends through the whole MS range of bloatware.
Like capitalising sentences. Like automatically starting a numbered list. Like the stroke inducing Office Assistant. Yes, you can switch all these things off, I hear you say, but that's the fucking point, isn't it? You have to switch them off. Surely any competent person switches them off. But why do we have to? It would be so much better for operating systems to assume you knew what you were doing, but to include a button that says, "Help me, I'm an imbecile."
I'm no great defender of OS X, by the way. I have to tone down its looks in preferences, and I position the Dock on the right and all that. But this is the same kind of thing as turning off menu blinking under OS 9 and speeding the cursor movements up. Crucially, even OS X manages to be a great consumer operating system, but without patronising you once you know what you're doing.
Adding new hardware, god jesus christ almighty. As a Mac user I'm used to having the level of control that allows me to insert the CD (or download the driver), double click the installer, then tell it where I want it to go. Then plug in the new printer, or scanner etc., and the thing works as it is supposed to. On Windows they think you want to plug in the device, and then the operating system takes over and does everything for you, step by excruciating step, because you are too stupid to do it yourself.
And crucially, even if you try to do something for yourself, it doesn't work properly, because the operating system doesn't know what the hell it is you're trying to do.
The final straw for me came last night. B took the scanner to work and the school techie installed the drivers, however it is you do that (it's a longer story than I can relate here). So then we set about doing a test scan.
First of all, it assumes that what you are scanning is an A4 page. Or some other kind of full page thing, which you can set. Not a photo booth size photo, for example. this is because the windows scanner driver has assumed from the start that it's dealing with an imbecile who cannot be allowed access to any "advanced" settings. Like choosing exactly what it is you're scanning, how you want it to be scanned, and where you want it to be saved. I had to switch off all the simple interface gubbins before finally getting to what you see on a Mac by default. My point here is that, if you are too stupid to learn to use a scanner properly, you shouldn't be allowed near a computer.
But not only do Microsoft pander to the terminally dumb end users who populate the world, but they still ship an operating system chock-full of security holes which those same end-users will be too stupid to plug.
I use Windows 98 at work, running under Virtual PC, because I have to, because our MIS system runs on it. But that's all I do. I never, ever, do anything else in Windows, and I never would. As I've said before, I'd rather not have a computer at all than put up with it.