With much love to John Hodgeman, who plays the PC in the annoying commercials this comic is based on, and is an avowed Mac fan.

I don’t have a problem with avowed Mac fans. What I have a problem with is their contention that their system’s relative security is somehow based on an innate immunity or ideological difference in design, rather than the fact that their systems are strictly limited in their construction, more expensive, and simply not prevalent enough to warrant the serious attacks other systems face. This is not to say that the popularity of those other systems is deserved or something to brag about, but the fact is it does garner them more attention from the miscreants of the world.

When you’re already dealing with a set of hardware combinations numbering in the trillions, it’s apples and flux capacitors to try and compare the smoothness of function of that operating system with one that is expressly written to run on an incredibly limited set of hardware that is known in explicit detail by those writing the operating system. Add to this the greatly increased number of people looking to exploit this already considerably more difficult to maintain system (due to hardware flux,) and it’s a miracle Windows runs at all. To smugly compare this to a packaged, closed, hardware-software system that is routinely junked every couple of years, to fanfare and drooling New-Hotness lust, is intellectual folly, and yet it has become the centerpiece of a national marketing campaign.

I don’t mean to bring such hate for the Mac – I’ve said multiple times if they’d add a right mouse button to the Intel Mac notebooks and drop the price by about a grand, I’d be there in a second. But they won’t do that, because cache is worth more than market share, and if they had market share, they might encounter some of the same problems that they laugh off. Demands for open systems, demands for parts, attacks on your userbase; this is a scary world that is better left to people who can’t get the good industrial designers to cloak iterative, brand-enslaving products in shrouds of ceramic “cool.”

I’m agnostic towards Microsoft. I think if you really think about the technological difficulties in making an operating system run on as well as it does (which isn’t that well) on that many possible hardware combinations, from any manufacturer, you have to admit it’s an engineering marvel. I will also happily admit that because of its staggering scope, it’s full of really bad holes, and that scope is no excuse. If you say you can handle the scope, handle it, or limit the scope of your product. To be fair, they are plugging those holes little bit by little bit, but they have a huge number of people poring over an ever-increasing body of code looking for little slip ups to exploit, and every fixed hole tends to lead to 2 new ones. I think they could do a much better job at preventing the slipups, but I don’t blithely dismiss what they have accomplished, either.

However, it is this nigh-unfathomable complexity that Microsoft has claimed they can straddle that makes Windows crappy – not Microsoft not being “alternative” enough, or Apple hogging all the coolness and sound thinking in the universe. So, phrasing the debate in an ideological sense makes sense from a marketing standpoint, but from a technical standpoint I say it’s flat-out fraud. Microsoft and Apple exist to make money for stockholders. Trying to say that your product works better because its infused with Coolonium and your engineers wear khakis, and you want to sell it to increase the happy particles in the world, when in reality it works better because you have taken on a ridiculously less difficult technical challenge, and you’re selling it for the exact same reason, is pure marketing spin, from a company with an excellent marketing background.

Compare the ads:
William H Macy tells you windows server runs businesses, in an uninspiring voiceover, while some marginally inspiring but contextually baffling pictures appear, all without mentioning a competitor.

Apple trots out a punch and judy show to try and re-frame the debate in terms of who is the stuffy, corporate “Man” and who is the hip, free youngster, ignoring the technological basis for the comparison – a comparison OF TECHNOLOGIES.

Yeah, that’s excellent marketing, and excellent marketing is excellent manipulation.

[how about instead of thinking different, we just think at all?]