Unfortunately she's had me to serve as her technical crutch for the last two decades so she's never really become proficient with computers. Sure, she can buy stuff on the web as well as anyone can and she's gotten pretty good with e-mail since I switched her to Gmail but outside of that...
She has an HP Laptop running Windows XP - it's about 2 years old. I've got the thing pretty well protected, paying my annual mob "protection" money to anti-virus vendors to keep her machine safe since even though I warn her not to click on everything people send her she still manages to install crap on the machine.
"But it says I needed to install that in order to view the pictures my friend sent...". When I explain to her that digital photos should not require any software to be installed to view because they should be in a standard digital format she just gives me that blank stare.
I try to patiently explain to her that many companies want to you to install these applications because they will grab information about what you do and send it back to the company. "It's called Spyware". That gets a slight flutter from her eyes - I'm thinking I am getting through.
"So I can't install that software to look at the pictures?"
Argh! This goes on every couple of months. This morning we had another issue; her computer would not allow her to get into her account - every time she logged in it would restart the machine. I ended up having to simply power the machine completely off (holding down the power button for 5 seconds) in order to stop the cycle.
In this case Microsoft had graced us with an auto-update overnight that required a reboot and something went screwy. I'm pretty confident my wife would not know (or care to learn) how to really restart her Windows machine.
While checking out the machine after getting it to log in properly I noticed that it was running pretty slowly. Several years of software being installed and leaving their little footprints in the registry were having an impact. With all the anti-virus software running (the entire Norton control center) the machine just runs... slowly.
It's still a serviceable machine, but I wonder if my life would be a little easier if I got her a nice little iMac. She would have her little iSight camera to talk to our daughter when she wants to. The new iMac would be blazingly fast compared to the AMD driven HP she's using now. Though she has a laptop it's permanently attached to her desk and never moves so portability isn't an issue.
Best of all, I wouldn't get that constant concern that she had installed spyware, malware, trojans, etc. on her machine. Sure that could happen on a Mac but it's far less likely. It's assured on Windows XP and her HP doesn't have the horsepower to run Vista.
In case you're wondering, I'm trying to talk myself into getting her one.