Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Windows, Spy/malware, Macs: Money, Pain, Relief

I became a Mac user after many years of supporting Windows (and DOS) for different companies. I used to sum up my job saying that Bill Gates paid my salary (to support his products). Windows has always been a "green" machine for IT techs. A lucrative field to work in. Windows = Money.

What drove me to the Mac is an all-too-familiar experience. Others share a similar story: "It just works", the interface is more intuitive (OS 9), the almost 100% true PnP, significantly less "tinker time" to get a system with everything working/installed compared to Windows, etcetera. Macs = Relief.

Switching to Mac at home but having to stay Windows at work became extremely frustrating. Productivity suffered with Windows down-time ad nauseum. Another all-too-familiar story. But I continued to make a living fixing Windows (and DOS) through the introduction of XP Pro. I'm thankful for all the money I made back then.

But Windows is also a pain. More specifically, the things that can be done to Windows, especially at the virtual hands of trojan horses and the increasing irritation of spyware. Windows = Money, Spy/malware = Pain, Macs = Relief.

I spent 1.5 hours helping a Windows-using friend troubleshoot his XP Pro system last night. Not exactly how I wanted to spend the night off. His problem is combination of trojan horses and spyware. His system is relatively pristine except that he's now on DSL and has musically-inclined kids who look for stuff to listen to. We all know where that can lead.

I relived the pain of troubleshooting Windows last night. Sometimes Macs can be equally frustrating and puzzling, but with Windows, the experience is too common. I've been toying with the idea of moonlighting again doing IT work. Last night pushed my decision out a little further yet again.

My family time is incredibly valuable to me. I don't want to spend my evenings fixing other people's problems that I know would be solved if they would buy a Mac. It may take some coaching from me to get them over the "I did this in Windows ... how do I do it on a Mac?" routine, but once over the hill, the coast is mostly clear.

I have a quite few examples of people I've helped switch from Windows. All required a little hand holding. Today, support calls are rare. Two examples are my parents who are in their 70s. Things just work right 97% of the time. Not the same with my Windows' using family and friends. Macs = Relief. Relief for me from the time-consuming headaches of Windows support. Usually with family and friends it's all freebie support. They'll call with a "quick question" that turns into a complete system rebuild because they decided to edit the registry cuz their friend did.

Though for some I recommend Windows, I don't believe in Windows to the point where I can have a clean conscience recommending it to everyone. It isn't for everyone. I try to play the "balanced advisor" when asked, I favor Macs and gently nudge people in that direction. But if they insist...

Don't get me wrong. I know a Mac can still be screwed up to the point of sledge hammer behavior. But many of the complicating factors (spyware, trojans, etc.) are mitigated making the system that much better (IMHO!).

Windows may bring in money, and my willingness to fix it isn't gone, but with the pain of spyware and malicious software, the money looks less and less enticing as the days go by. For me, my money is on Macs - well-spent relief.


Anonymous said...

Me too! I was tired of fixing friends/windows computers. I'm not an IT but..i'm fixing windows at work everytime. I stop helping friends/windows cause i was losing time to spent/talk to my wife, or studying more. Time is precious! Think of how many times they re-format, re-install and re-make all the windows wizards! If i have to become a slave of my computer, i will not think twice: i will put it in the trash and: buy a typewriter, a scientific calculator, magazines, newspapers and books.

Anonymous said...

Your parent's mac doesn't work right 3% of the time? That's too high... I got mom into an eMac when they were new, and after the "here's the dock, here's where you store documents, here's Appleworks, Mail, Safari, ect" conversation, there were a half dozen newbie questions in the first week, then they trailed off to zero in the first month.

The only support I've done for her all year was
"Do I have to worry about this spasser worm?"
"Not in the least, mom."