Because I am surrounded by geeks almost 16 hours a day, I’ve taken part in a ridiculous amount of discussions about Apple versus Microsoft. I don’t think there will ever be consensus other than ‘you do your thing, and I’ll do mine’, but somehow I never get tired of them. 

I recently attended a panel discussion in which a man called Richard Clayton (a brass and well spoken security expert at Cambridge University) made an excellent point about one of the core differences. Microsoft, he said, doesn’t like to make choices for their customers. If you install a Microsoft product, it’ll ask you where you want to put it and how much of it you want to install on your hard drive. Apple, on the other hand, have thought long and hard about how it should be, and make those choices for you. They decide what’s best for you, on the basis that it would take too long to educate the masses to make well thought-out decisions.

This is one of the reasons that Apple products ‘just work’ whereas for Microsoft you may have to mess around a bit, possibly because you put something in the wrong place, or installed it in the wrong way.

But as it so happens, I find myself to be a control freak. I’m one of those people that occasionally look at their task manager, I actively manage what programs are allowed to run on startup and so on. I like to know what’s going on in my pc, and I like to think I know what I’m doing (half the time I don’t, but that doesn’t stop me).

So when Windows tries to stop me from viewing my system files, I get angry. And when Apple tries to sneak stuff past me, I uninstall every Apple product on my computer. This is probably an overreaction, but it’s what I did. You see, I like some Apple products. I love iTunes. It’s a handy way of turning your cd’s into mp3’s, it has an awesome streaming feature for other people in your network. It’s a good program. Installing it, however, adds three new programs to your startup file, none of which you need or even gave permission for, and one of which is an updater that I can only assume drags in more crap. And that, dear reader, is way too close to spyware software for me to be comfortable with.

But obviously, that’s not for everyone. Whenever my mother uses a computer, for instance, she gets all tense, and the choices she has to make get her even more nervous. If she, and this goes for a lot of people, gets a popup, she just wants to make it go away. And since most of the pop-ups she gets are gibberish to her, she doesn’t always make informed choices. For her, something that ‘just works’ would be more than enough.

For me, it isn’t. Of course, sometimes I make the wrong choices, but at least they’re my choices. There’s a tiny little rebel in me that feels all good about itself when it got to exert power over an electronic device.

I’m a pc. Isn’t that just horrible? Ask yourself: what are you? Why do you use the system you use?

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