Mac tool

Hadley Stern of Apple Matters declares Vista good enough for most users, which strikes the Macalope as not particularly surprising since most users are already using Windows.

But Stern believes the operating system race is over. And the Internet has won!

What this means for Apple is that the edge with OS X will disappear. And what is left? Better hardware? Perhaps. More software selection? Certainly not. The so-called advantages of a closed hardware/software platform? Most assuredly not as iTunes availability and success on the Windows platform shows.

Not having to go through the technological equivalent of a proctologic exam when registering your products?  Maybe.  An operating system that doesn’t throw up a thousand modal warning screens every time you try to do something because that’s the only way they could think of to fix their security problem – by making everything so difficult that you don’t even want to use it anymore?  Mmm, could be.

Etc. Etc.

Stern seems to believe that the development of operating systems will cease after Vista is released and seems to not know about this “Leopard” of which we speak.

All signs in the future point to the end of the importance of the operating system. Or, maybe it is time for Apple to start thinking about what needs to come next.

Phew.  All the pedanticism of Jef Raskin without any of the vision.

This is a familiar refrain from Stern – having recently argued that because most anyone would choose a Windows machine with an Internet connection over a Mac without one, the operating system doesn’t matter anymore.  The Macalope is loath to get into this because it leads to endless analogies and absurd desert island scenarios, but this is the beat the Macalope chose so it’s a little late to complain about it now.

Reduced to their most basic purpose, operating systems are tools you use to accomplish something.  When given the choice between accomplishing that thing and not accomplishing that thing, it should prove unsurprising that 99 out of 10 [sic] users are going to choose to accomplish that thing.

They are also likely to choose to not get stuffed in a duffle bag full of angry bees and beaten with sticks.  Again, not surprising.

Stern wants to pretend that this is something new.  It is not.  This is the way it has been since tools were first invented.  If you could have asked an australopithecus if he’d prefer a large bone to beat a boar to death with or a leafy frond, he’d have knocked you over, taken the bone and beaten both you and the boar to death with it.  So, yes, the Macalope will happily stipulate the point that between a tool that gets the job done and one that doesn’t, the one that does is more useful.


This says nothing about how quickly and efficiently the job gets done, or how fricking awesome you look doing it.

Perhaps it’s that Microsoft has been out of the fight for five years that’s causing Stern to believe we’ll reach the end of history when Vista is released.  But here in 2006, we’re still years away from an “always on” zero-latency Internet with applications that don’t look like “teh azz”.

So let’s not pretend otherwise.

  • GadgetGav:

    One can only assume that Hadley just added new ad revenue streams to his site. Either that or he was suddenly aware he had slipped into obscurity.
    I for one will not be clicking through to read his pointless waste of bandwidth. I got fooled like that on the desert island one and even stopped to read another article which was equally stupid. Like the President said; “fool me once, shame on … shame on you. It fool me. We can’t get fooled again.” Well, something like that anyway.

  • Harold:

    ‘… slipped into obscurity’ indeed. I haven’t read that site in years, and last time I did most of the articles could be placed into two categories: (1) crap, and (2) arguments with their own commentors: ‘Beeblebrox is a tool’, ‘No, you’re a tool’, ‘No YOU’Re the tool’, blah blah blah. Amazed the site is still running.

  • > This is the way it has been since tools were first invented.

    I think this is the way it has been all along, and it is simply *after* the first tools were invented that we noticed.

  • Interestingly, I draw the opposite conclusion — any similarities between Vista and OSX are probably a *good thing* for Apple. Right now “most users” are used to a clunky OS and interface that kinda works but is painful to do anything complicated with, and which sporadically goes bad all on its own. They get negative reinforcement when they try to use their OS in anything more than a simple way.

    (Keep in mind, I’m certainly not talking about anyone advanced when I say “most users”.)

    But seriously, think about it. If Vista manages to lower the fear quotient, you’ll wind up with “most users” being less afraid of their computer, and using something that looks a lot like a Mac already. That seriously lowers the psychological barrier that you need to surmount before switching. (“Oh, hey, this Apple looks just like my Windows.”)

    It’s definitely in Microsoft’s best interests to keep the culture of bugs and fear.

  • Hmm, interesting refreshing view of point, Drew.

  • euhm, that should say point of view, …:)

  • “One can only assume that Hadley just added new ad revenue streams to his site. Either that or he was suddenly aware he had slipped into obscurity.”

    Most likely the case

  • Gaz Hay:

    I do agree with you partially drew, but you seem to have forgotten, the last time windows pretended to be a Mac circa win95, it didn’t result in barriers coming down and a flock of users switching.

    But I do agree that making windows look more like a Mac, will make people stop and think, especially when the alternative is “reduced functionality mode” because you swapped in a new hard drive or graphics card!

  • leslie:

    Not agreeing with either Stern or you but wanted to point out that this is being published on the internet, through a web app, comments back are through a web app, and I found it through another internet site, also published through a web app, aggregated through a web app, etc…

    It will also be picked up and distributed through search engines, which are web apps, and the longevity of this site, Stern’s, and most internet sites will be determined by web apps and their development, not by desktop apps or a desktop OS.

    In other words, finding your content and reading it was, from a practical standpoint, a completely OS agnostic experience. And while Safari and OSX did make the experience easier and smoother and beautiful (I love me OSX), all the horsepower required to read your article and give feedback came from web applications, not OSX.

    Again, not saying Stern is right or that you are wrong. Just observing what took place to read and interact with this site.

  • Edge:

    99 out of 10?

    I like them odds. Except it’s illegal and stuff.

  • Edge:

    Oh, I forgot… to the Macalope;

    “I think I love you, but what are you so afraid of?”

  • Ken:

    Problem with all these “Vista looks like a Mac” arguments is this:

    It doesn’t feel like a Mac. It feels like Windows with a skin. Which is what it is, as far as the end user is concerned. Sure, there’s some new doodads, but it feels exactly like Windows.

    Under the skin, it’s a bit different, I’ll give them that, but it’s not a Mac. And it doesn’t really look like a Mac, either.

    Neither did Windows 95.

  • Leslie,

    The post was written in BBEdit and as the Macalope was reading Stern’s piece and posting his own, he was not afflicted by any popup windows or other Windows malware. Nor, when he set up his computer for use on the Internet, was he asked to call an activation hotline and input a 16-digit code. When Vista comes out, the Macalope will not be presented with umpteen windows asking if he really wants to post information to the Internet which is a big scary place with all kinds of bad people who could steal your post and use it for nefarious purposes. While Steve Jobs does not want him to, the Macalope was also able to benefit from the glory of double-scroll arrows in Safari as well as tabs.

    Also, while the Macalope uses the Internet a lot, he also uses a dozen other applications throughout the day that are not related to the Internet or are (like NetNewsWire) but still are much more enjoyable on the Mac.

  • Kordan Harvey:

    I also think that people are forgetting all of the things you do on a PC that don’t involve the internet in the least. Sure most of my day as a student is spent on the internet, but I still make extensive use of programs that do not require internet access, such as Keynote, or iPhoto, that are much more enjoyable to use than their Windows equivalents.

    To continue the tool analogy, you use which tools you like most. Sure I’d prefer to use a bone club to kill something over using my bare hands, but by the same token I’d prefer using a samuri sword (Mac) to kill something over using a bone club (Windows), it’s nicer, quicker and more efficent, even though both achieve the same end, through nearly the same means.

    I think if Apple can currently survive with 4.5% of computer users prefering them over Microsoft, and we can fairly bet that very few people are switching the other way. Then I think Apple can comfortably survive as long as it wants. Apple lovers are going to continue to love using Apple, and everyone else be damned, they can use their bone clubs.

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