I’m a big fan of Apple’s new Mac Mini.
It looks great. It’s elegantly small. And I can seriously recommend it to my
friends whose PCs are saddled with adware, spyware, and viruses, which pretty
much includes all my neighbors with Windows PCs (and me too, now). Chuck points
out that there are some, potentially
interesting uses for the Mac Mini other than recruiting Windows users to
the Mac camp, but right now I want to focus on switching.
You see, it just seems to me that the time is right for Apple to make
a push into the mass-market. First, and bear with me a bit here, let me review
some common reasons to go Windows rather than Mac:
- Windows PCs can be had cheaply
- There’s more software for Windows than for the Mac
- Some web sites seem to favor Windows Internet Explorer
- Buy Windows, and you fit in with the majority
I’m sure there’s more reasons that I’m missing. But no matter. The Mac Mini
certainly answers objection #1. Not only can you get a Mac for $500, it’ll look
a whole lot cooler than any Windows PC (that I’ve seen) for the same price.
But here’s my real point: All the reasons to stay with Windows pale in the
light of one fact. And that fact is:
Your Windows PC won’t work!
Ok, I’m perhaps pushing a point too far here, but let’s consider my neighbors:
Neighbor #1 has two PCs. One is completely nonfunctional due to adware
and spyware. He just shoves the box in a corner and doesn’t use it. He manages
to limp along with his other PC. Periodically I try and help him remove
various malware. We never can get it all off, and his kids, whatever it
is they do, seem to bring it all back again soon enough. I installed Firefox
for him, which has been a great help, but still he has an infested and dysfunctional
Neighbor #2 also has two PCs. The parents recently told me that their daughter’s
PC had stopped working because of viruses and malware. They were planning
to reload it. I don’t know whether they have yet.
- Neighbor #3 is a semi-pro musician (i.e. he actually makes a profit from
his music). He has frequent trouble with malware. He manages to keep his machine
running, but I don’t think he’s happy with the amount of effort it takes.
When I show him this new Mac Mini, and mention that he can get Garage Band
for it, well, he may leap.
Neither of neighbor #1 or #2 have a lot of money to spend on PCs, and I don’t
think they are likely to spend $500 on a new Windows PC, which they’ll perceive
as delivering more of the same problems they experience now. But a Mac, that’s
different. This new machine will at least get their attention.
No doubt from being careful, I’ve mostly managed over the past several years
to avoid problems with malware and viruses. Lately though, I’ve been reminded
of just how fragile Windows can be. During the holidays, the neighbor kids came
over to my house wanting to use the Internet. I guess their PCs weren’t working
too well. In a fit of insanity, I let them do something I never do, should never
have done: I let them use my office PCs. In less than an hour and a half of
just browsing, they managed to infest both with viruses and other malware. I
spent all the next day and evening recovering, and still I haven’t quite gotten
all the cruft out.
Apparently, all it took to kill my two Windows boxes was two kids browsing
to the wrong websites. Wow! No wonder none of my friends can keep anything running.
In the process of fixing things, I installed Windows XP Service Pack 2. (OK,
I should have done that months ago.) That messed up Visio. My version of Visio,
which I bought just prior to Microsoft’s acquisition of that company, used to
start up, display a dialog telling me it was incompatible with my version of
Windows, and then it’d run just fine. (Go figure). Now, it displays the dialog
and quits. I can’t help but wonder if Microsoft hasn’t coded in some sort of
artificial limitation. Maybe. Maybe not. But I do wonder.
Btw, Firefox has been
a great help to me. If you don’t have it, if you are still using Internet Explorer
(IE), run, don’t walk, but run to Mozilla.org
and install Firefox. Just do it. Trust me. The one piece of adware I have yet
to clean out will pop up advertising windows almost constantly whenever I run
IE. That’s what finally got me off the dime to install Firefox myself. I’ve
not only found Firefox easier to use than IE, but, heh, it doesn’t seem to be
compatible with that one piece of adware.
To add more grief to my life, the old Windows box that my family uses just
up and died a few days ago. It begins to boot, displays a blue-screen telling
me that it cannot boot, and then, after a minute or so, it reboots. Trying the
"last known good configuration" did no good. Maybe it’s a hardware
glitch of some sort, but with Windows I’m certainly not left in a good position
to fix anything. The only solution I can think of at the moment is to rebuild
the box from scratch, which is a long day’s work and then some, and I’ve been
through it before and don’t want to go there again..
I’m not even going try and fix the family PC. It’s a six-year old budget-box
that I’ve long regretted buying, because it’s got an Intel slow-video solution.
I was ignorant of that issue when I bought the box, but I soon learned, the
hard way, that you want a separate video card (or chip). No, I’m not going to
fix that box. I’m going to replace it, and with a Mac (maybe not
a Mini). It’s down now to a question of which Mac to buy and how to reshuffle
my remaining, Windows PCs. (naturally, I wish I could replace both my office
and family PCs all at once, but that isn’t going to happen.)
There’s this concept of a tipping
point where a seemingly small thing can initiate great changes, and I wonder
whether we aren’t reaching something like that in the world of home computers.
All the time I read about viruses and malware and of successful attacks against
Windows systems. I see people who live with malware, because they don’t know
they’ve got it, or, if they do know they’ve got it, they don’t know how to get rid of it. I
see people who are so frustrated with their dysfunctional PCs that they just
shove them into a corner and forget about them. Windows PCs are just difficult for many to keep running. If Apple’s going to try and
go after the masses, this would seem like an opportune time. I wish them success.
What about you? Will the Mac Mini get you thinking about switching? How much time do you spend fighting malware on Windows?