December 1998

Why do Windows Lovers Love Windows?

Why is it that otherwise (seemingly) intelligent people will rave about how great Windows is, and go on about how wimpy MacOS is?

To understand the answer, you have to understand the way computers are viewed by our society. Simply put, computers are viewed as complex devices. There is an expectation that they are cumbersome to use, difficult to "program", difficult to understand, etc.

This attitude is reflected by those who choose not to use computers. Every computer user has heard some computer-illiterate person say something like "I could never understand computers". And every computer-illiterate person has at one time or another said or thought something like that.

This brings me to an important point. There is a big fence between those who use computers, and those who don't. This fence causes many of those who don't use computers to hold computer users in some sort of awe, to be somehow impressed by their feat of using a computer. On the other side of the fence, computer users often mock those who don't use computers.

Crossing over the fence from computer-illiterate to a computer user is a major source of pride for those that make the journey. Windows, with all its poorly designed interfaces and the over-complicated PC hardware architecture, reinforces this pride, by making it a hard-fought journey. On the other hand, MacOS attempts to eliminate the myth that computers have to be hard. Everyone has heard (or been) a Windows user going on ad nauseaum with "war stories" of how many days they spent rebooting their machine to get a new piece of hardware or software to work. This reinforces the pride among Windows users, and the fear among the computer-illiterate.

In this environment, Windows users are naturally threatened by MacOS. It looks so simple to use, and they've worked so hard to learn Windows, so there must be some catch right? It must be slower. Or it must do less. It isn't for serious users because they didn't have to work at it. They didn't suffer for their computer-literacy. They didn't go through the necessary rites-of-passage.

MacOS threatens the entire Windows sub-culture, because it represents the lie behind all of their pride: computers don't have to be complicated or hard to use in order to be powerful. If MacOS gains popularity, and people realize that it is in fact superior in almost all respects to Windows, then all the Windows pride will be crushed. All that pain and suffering it took to learn Windows would switch from being a point of pride, to being the source of embarassment. Embarassment that they wasted so much time on their computer, and embarassment that they were once actually proud of that waste. Instead of allowing that possibility, Windows users must convince themselves (and everyone else) that MacOS is somehow inferior.

About the author
I've been using Unix since 1984. During that time I've gained substantial experience developing and evaluating user interfaces. Because I was exposed to MacOS and Windows only after becoming a loyal Unix user, I feel that my opinions can be considered more impartial than most.
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