Windows vs Mac - can't we all just get along?

In the spring of 1992 I lived in Los Angeles, Ca. Not long after the riots commenced Rodney King, the man beaten by LAPD officers and the incident that proved the flash point for the riots, made the now famous plea "Can't we all just get along?"

It simply amazes me how people become so religious about a particular topic, especially the now painfully tired Windows vs Mac debate. Both platforms have advantages and disadvantages. I used to hate Mac - mainly because it was yet another platform I had to support as a developer. I would spend extraordinary amounts of time to craft a great application, only to have a vocal minority of the population complain that it wouldn't work on their Macs.

When that happened I did what any other normal, rational person would do. I ignored them. They didn't represent enough of a financial opportunity for me to even consider developing there.

The emergence of the web as an application platform nullified that debate to a large degree, at least for developers. It wasn't that long ago that commercial Windows developers were more consumed with variations of Windows installations (16 vs 32 bit, COM libraries, ComCtrl.dll versions, etc., etc). In the space of a few short years the web stopped being a high level presentation medium and became a platform for building very capable applications.

I know this - I built a successful business on the Windows client model and had to experience that painful transition to the web firsthand.

All of a sudden the developers that I knew stopped caring about Windows implementations and started worrying about HTML compliance, browser versions, JavaScript and DHTML. Just when my fellow Windows developers had mastered the Windows platform and had highly advanced tools to make it really easy to knock out killer applications, they became somewhat irrelevant.  Everyone I knew was telling me that client applications were dead and that it was all about the web as a platform.

It took me a really long time to accept this. It's because I'm stubborn and I had invested so much in Windows development already. I didn't want to take a huge step back and have to learn a whole new tool set. In the end I decided I'd better embrace the future and accept the web as a great model for building real applications, otherwise I may become a COBOL programmer waiting for a Y2K event to give me something to do.

Change is really friggin hard. Most people hate it and I'm like most people.

I tell you this because when I decided to look at the Mac as a personal computing solution I did so in part because I wanted to see what everyone was talking about. I had made the change from a custom client model to a web model and I guess it had broken down my resistance for exploring new technology.

As you may be able to tell from my other blog posts, I really like my Mac. That doesn't mean I hate Windows; I still use my XP machine every day. Doesn't mean I hate Linux; I have a wonderful little Ubuntu machine right behind me that I use occasionally.

Can a Mac get a virus? Sure it can - there just aren't any out there yet that I'm aware of. Trust me when I tell you that it is possible to build a virus for any programmable computer. It may not be able to wreak serious havoc and reproduce at will but it can do damage in other ways. Can a Windows machine get a virus? Sure it can - and you need to run anti-virus software OR be very aware of what you do in order to avoid them. Linux is in the same boat as Mac. These are simple facts.

That said, I'm going to go back to writing about the cool things I've discovered for my Mac. I'll also be writing about starting a technology business from scratch - something I'm doing again now. If you find this stuff interesting I encourage you to jump in and sign up for my RSS feed.



Unknown said…
I found your blog on digg today, i went back and read all your post, and totally enjoyed them all. keep them coming
Mike said…
I used to be in the "Mac Sucks" camp as well. I'd be willing to bet that the vast majority of people that hate Macs have never really spent any significant amount of time on anything other than a Windows PC.

I run all 3 platforms (Windows, Linux, and Mac) and they all fit a need.

I love my Mac for home use but in a Corporate Environment? Well... I'll take my Mac with VMware running XP. :)

I converted a year ago and use my Mac whenever I can but won't complain about having to use a Windows or Linux machine.
Marco said…
Another digg referral here. Just wanted to say that I will definitely be subscribing to your feed. I too am in the process of starting up a technology business from scratch, and and very interesting in hearing about your experiences. Keep up the great blog!
Unknown said…
It seems as though you got quite a few hits from Digg today. I recently switched from PC to Mac as well. I really enjoyed reading every one of your posts up to this point. I really look forward to seeing what you have in store next.

PS. Thanks for some of the Mac tips I didn't know about. I now can use spotlight as a calculator and tab through my applications with command+tab. :) I guess I learn something new every day.

If you're interested, I wrote about your blog on my Pownce account.
Jeff Bellamy said…
I've been using a Mac since 1984 (I still have that computer in the garage).

I understand that you can write a virus for any operating system.

People always say that viruses aren't written for the Mac because it's a small part of the computing population.

When you see some of jingoism (your system sucks) I don't understand why there hasn't been a concerted attack on the the whole Mac community.

I'm currently using my 4th Mac (not bad for 24 years) and it works fine except that the video is way out of date. Sure would like to get a new one.

It's been a pleasure reading your blog. I feel like a part of the author comes through in his words and I like you and your family and wish you the best.
David Alison said…
@Jeff Bellamy: that's a really nice thing to say - thanks Jeff!
Anonymous said…
This is what I propose on - find the platform that is best for you. We should be open minded and help one another to make the best decision.
Anonymous said…
David, is there any chance we can publish your story on I couldn't find your email on the blog so can you please use my contact form on the site to get in touch? It will be great to share your experience with other people considering the switch to mac.
Anonymous said…
We could all drop it if there weren't a few million mac users out there who suddenly consider themselves to be computer genii just b/c they bought a pretty machine and swallowed a mountain of subversive marketing babble.

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