Friday, July 25, 2008

Finally Making a Move from Microsoft

Years ago I attempted to shift my home from Windows to Linux (GNU/Linux with KDE, GNOME, and a few other window managers, for the sticklers out there). It was a terrific success and then a huge failure. For around six months Windows was almost never used at home. Then my wife started school and a week into that it wasn't worth the struggle to get things to work with her school.

Her school was generally uncaring about what she did or didn't have available to her, for them she had to have a Windows OS and Microsoft Office. They wouldn't accept PDFs, her assignments involved creating documents that use features RTF doesn't support, and at the time still had issues saving Word documents. So, even though I managed to trick the school's website into unblocking Konquerer, she eventually had to use Windows.

Windows is a drug. All it takes is one use and you're hooked. Ignore the side effects, the constantly degrading performance, the nearly mandatory reinstall every few years, the need for all sorts of protective [and resource draining] software, it's still easier than fighting the tide. Roll with it, and you become addicted to the ease of communicating with others who are hopelessly addicted to Microsoft's proprietary formats. You can move on with your life and forget about the computer.

Along came Vista, and things started to change. The staunchest Microsoft supporters can only give a meek yelp of defense for Vista. It is becoming a Windows Me 2, and everyone is avoiding it. As more people move to that OS I hear more chatter about this or that device becoming a useless brick. Now that you must jump through hoops to buy a new system with XP, more people are becoming sympathetic with those who switch from Microsoft.

The resurgence of Apple is the tipping point. Apple is becoming less of a niche market every day. It helps that Apple kept their price points up so Macintosh owners are now associated with money. America respects money, so America has started to respect Apple again. With respect for Apple comes the understanding that interoperability [the real definition, not Microsoft's distortion] is important.

To give due respect, FireFox plays a big part in this as well. FireFox is largely responsible for the browser market opening up again. Now that Internet Explorer is relegated to a mere two thirds of the market fewer businesses are ignoring the other browsers. This means there is far less of a chance that a website will required IE for basic use. Although I still encounter a lot of small organizations who are behind the times and want IE for important features to work, sometimes inexcusable features like rendering or navigation. It is far better than it was, which is important because the World Wide Web becomes more useful every day.

When a shock to my Inspiron notebook bricked it this weekend I had a choice. I could continue with my addiction to Microsoft, or I could pay a little more and make a big step toward freedom. I took the step and I bought a MacBook.

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