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Soviet Microsoft: Stockholm Syndrome Among Unswitchable Windows Users

Soviet Microsoft
Readers Write
Commenting on the article “Soviet Microsoft: How Resistance to Free Markets and Open Ideas Will the Unravel the Software Superpower,” reader Harvey Lubin extended the analogy between Microsoft and the Soviet Union by describing how many of Microsoft’s customers have developed a Stockholm Syndrome that prevents them from seeing or readily adopting alternatives.


Soviet Microsoft: How Resistance to Free Markets and Open Ideas Will the Unravel the Software Superpower

Soviet Microsoft: How Resistance to Free Markets and Open Ideas Will the Unravel the Software Superpower

Lubin writes: “Your article yesterday, comparing Microsoft to the old Soviet Union, was a perfect analogy and it got me thinking how, by extending that analogy, Windows users can be likewise equated to the people of the USSR.

During the Cold War some of the citizens of the Soviet Union escaped to the West and freedom. But the vast majority of the populace remained. People like us, living in more open and democratic societies looked at the impoverished and suffering citizens of the USSR and wondered why are they enduring these hardships?

The citizens who did escape to the West were in the minority. They could clearly see there was a better life awaiting them outside their current borders, and they took action to improve their lives. These people are paralleled by Windows users who made the switch to Mac OS X. We can read many testimonials written by them on the Web, extolling their new found freedom and joy in using a Mac.

But like the majority of the people of the USSR, most Windows users are immovable. There are reasons for this. In the Soviet Union the government bombarded the public with a non-stop barrage of propaganda exalting the government and its political leaders. This indoctrination came to them though the media at home, and it was reinforced in the workplace environment as well. Because of the Soviet Union’s isolationist policies, it was very difficult for those trapped behind the ”iron curtain“ to get any sense of what freedoms awaited them outside of their borders. Without any realistic view of the options available to them, most people stayed in Mother Russia believing that this was the extent of their world, and that there were no other opportunities for them to better their lives.

Ten Myths of Leopard: 10 Leopard is a Vista Knockoff!

Ten Myths of Leopard: 10 Leopard is a Vista Knockoff!

Microsoft Stockholm Syndrome.
Another explanation as to why many of the citizens of the USSR remained steadfast is the Stockholm syndrome. The Stockholm syndrome is defined as a psychological response sometimes seen in an abducted hostage, in which the hostage shows signs of loyalty to the hostage-taker, regardless of the danger (or at least risk) in which the hostage has been placed. In a way, many Windows users suffer from a more subtle form of the Stockholm syndrome.

Too often we see articles on the web written by Microsoft loyalists about Apple and the Mac OS, that are mean-spirited attacks constructed on exaggerations and lies. These articles defend and praise their use of Microsoft Windows, not by revealing that they are in any way happy with living with the impositions of Windows, but rather by fabricating or regurgitating untruths about Macs. The intent is to make current Windows users believe that the Mac is such an outrageously bad platform, and to be so focussed on this that they do not examine the real conditions they are living with. Magicians refer to this sleight of hand as ”misdirection“.

One other reason why people stay in bad situations (be it living in the Soviet Union or remaining a Windows user) is because it becomes a way of life that is so instilled that it is hard to break away from.

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Arrogance Unleashed: The Foul Stench of Computerworld’s Mike Elgan

The Unswitchables.
I personally know of an acquaintance who is intelligent and technically knowledgeable, and who a few years ago told me rather than buying himself a new Windows PC, he had made the switch and bought himself a PowerMac. Since this was his first time using Mac OS X I offered to give him a tutorial on using his new Mac. He declined, but a few days later he called and asked for help. He said that he installed an application but couldn’t find it. I asked him for the name of the application that he installed, and then told him to look for that named application in the Applications folder. He said ”Oh, I was looking something that had an “.exe” file with a different name“.

A couple days later he called and asked how he could uninstall an application since it didn’t come with an uninstaller. He also wanted to know where the DLL files were located. I explained that he could just drag the application to the trash, and that in the Mac OS there are no DLL files to worry about.

A week later he called me in a panic, and said that his Mac was continually crashing and that he could use my help. After asking him a few questions, it came out that he had been logging in as ROOT and that he had tried to ”reconfigure“ the System files using the command line. He had been used to doing this in Windows and he wanted to do the same with his new Mac. I tried to explain that what he had done is mess up the operating system, and that there was a good reason for not logging in as ROOT and customizing the System files. But, he insisted that he wanted to continue with this tinkering.

A few weeks later he told me that he became so frustrated with not being able to use the Mac as he was accustomed to, that he sold it and bought himself a Windows PC again.

This may sound unbelievable, but all of this really happened and I just shook my head and accepted it as the way some Windows users are and forever will be.”

What do you think? I really like to hear from readers. Comment in the Forum or email me with your ideas.

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48 comments

1 John Muir { 12.15.07 at 1:31 pm }

I’ve a friend in a similar situation at the moment. He bought an iBook from eBay which I fixed up for him last week since the hard drive needed replaced. The laptop was ostensibly a surprise Christmas present for his wife, but it was pretty clear he was using it as a trial run for his own switching experience.

It surprised me when he wanted to do this in the first place: as I’ve been on the Mac five years already and considered him a curmudgeon. But Vista tearing his system apart — several times now — really does seem to have gotten through.

Now for the bad part. He spoiled the surprise by telling his wife at the last moment she was getting a laptop. I was there to answer tech questions when she opened it up, and was dismayed to find her disappointed with the 12″ G4 as it was “too heavy” and “too big” compared to the six year old Windows portable she was used to. He must have got her hopes up that it would be a new machine. Anyway, I showed them the ropes of OS X, answered the initial stream of questions about where the Start menu had gone away to etc., and bade them farewell.

It’s now one week later and I’m hearing rumbles about them maybe selling the four year old machine on again, or my friend “upgrading” it somehow as he’s sure you must be able to tear the CPU out. D’oh! Since he’s an inveterate hardware tinkerer it’s not surprising that he wants to do this. I reminded him however that the only system he’s had which hasn’t seen extended downtime in the last few years was her old laptop, precisely because he had not fiddled with it!

They’re still consfused with zoom vs. maximise and app windows vs. apps running; and I hope they can take a deep breath and learn another platform. However, he’s now merrily going on about how awesome XP Service Pack 1 will be, so somehow I doubt that.

Ah, Stockholm.

(Note: he’s tried Linux before but just doesn’t have the tech savvy for it. “At least its buttons were in the right place and did the right thing though”, so I’m told!)

2 potterhead4 { 12.15.07 at 1:34 pm }

I like the piece, Harvey.

For your friend, it’s the old ‘Windows machines are more customizable” bs again. Of course, Mac machines are just as customizable, it’s just a lot easier to do it. But Windows users like your friend have spent so much time learning how to deal with all the flaws that they feel cheated if they have to use something that doesn’t require the technical prowess they’ve invested so much time in.

As usual, Douglas Adams puts it best: “It is very easy to be blinded to the essential uselessness of them by the sense of achievement you get from getting them to work at all. In other words – and this is the rock-solid principle on which the whole of the Corporation’s galaxywide success is founded – their fundamental design flaws are completely hidden by their superficial design flaws.”

These Windows users can’t stand losing this sense of achievement, because they’ve forgotten the even more amazing sense of achievement you get from actually getting something done well and on time.

3 PerGrenerfors { 12.15.07 at 1:34 pm }

The unswitchables are everywhere. They sure know their way around a XP system but the fact that you don’t have to tinker with your Mac puts panic in their minds. And they can’t seem to get that they don’t have to drag around individual files themselves with iTunes.

Some of them, I think, are afraid to have their skills made obsolete.

4 John Muir { 12.15.07 at 1:35 pm }

XP SP 3 rather. Vista really does seem to have put him off.

My strategy is to mutter the magic words “DirectX 10″ just to spook him! XP won’t live forever the way he wants it. Maybe it’ll be an Xbox 360 next…

5 TonyR { 12.15.07 at 2:05 pm }

It’s going to be a late Christmas present for myself, but I will be trading in my homemade Windows XP machine for an iMac in the late Winter or early Spring. I’ve been to the Apple Store and played around, tinkered with my girlfriend’s and it’s now a no-brainer. One of many prodigal sons will return, lured by the beauty and simplicity of iPod and iPhone, and fond memories of a Mac SE 30 as a first computer. Apple’s come a long way. I have no qualms about ditching my Microsoft beast. I agree whole-heartedly with Daniel’s original analogy and this follow-up. I’ve used MS machines because I was locked in and there was no alternative. I don’t feel that’s necessary anymore.

6 lightstab { 12.15.07 at 2:08 pm }

I’ve had a slightly different experience with my sister. I bought her a 24″ iMac the week after Leopard came out and asked her the other night, what she thought of OS X. She said: “I don’t see any difference.”

Wow, never heard THAT one before, but you have to know my sister. She’s so clueless she thinks AOL is the internet. Okay, but last night, she calls me up all excited because my eight year old niece showed her how to use Photobooth (Yeah, my eight year old niece understands the computer better than her) and she was excited because, in her words she doesn’t “have to buy a digital camera to take a picture.”

She used Photobooth to take a headshot for a singing gig at Universal Studios. She tried to insert the photo into Mac Word and called me up again, frustrated. Apparently, when she was in the insert picture prompt, she kept attempting to insert Photobooth.app directly into the document, thinking it would just give her the photo she wanted.

Sigh. Anyway, I told her where the photos were stored in the Pictures folder and that was that, but it goes to show you how clueless lots of users are in the Windows world. My sister didn’t see any difference between the two operating systems although she had so much malware on her Windows laptop that it would run incredibly slow. The Dell desktop she got for my niece would magically shut down after only being on for a few minutes.

Of course, she also complained about me “outclassing” the used Dell she had bought for my niece, so perhaps there’s more to her ambivalence than she’s letting on.

7 John Muir { 12.15.07 at 2:46 pm }

@ lightstab

She probably thinks of the web as her platform. While showing that iBook I mentioned to the new Mac couple for the first time, I made sure to emphasise that “the internet” is essentially the same on a Mac as in Windows. It’s certainly where most people are spending the majority of their time, and carrying out most of their useful work as well as leisure.

John Gruber wrote quite a nice post about the idea a couple of months ago at Daring Fireball:

http://daringfireball.net/2007/10/milhouse

There’s basically less holding back general users from the Mac now than ever before. Same too for the hypothetical Linux which seamlessly handles everything … or “Ubuntu” as I hear some haunted souls utter to the wind. I don’t believe them yet.

8 brunomiguel { 12.15.07 at 2:59 pm }

Funny thing. I wrote a similar article in September, only in Portuguese, I didn’t made an analogy with the URSS and I focused in the advantages of GNU/Linux over any closed source OS.

If you understand Portuguese or you don’t have a problem using a translation tool, you can check my text here: http://www.conversasdobruno.webtuga.net/2007/09/25/as-verdades-as-mentiras-e-os-mitos-sindrome-de-estocolmo-nos-sistemas-operativos/

9 russtic { 12.15.07 at 3:01 pm }

In fairness it can be frustrating starting on a new os. I switched a little over a year ago. The biggest difficulty I had was that things worked so seamlessly that I thought they weren’t working! For example I spent ages trying to get my printer to work, only to find out, after calling my brother in law, that it had installed immediately – without lots of messages telling me that it had.

I now hardly ever use parallels and hate every minute that I am on the crappy windows boxes at work.

10 nat { 12.15.07 at 3:09 pm }

Really enjoying the USSR/MS comparison articles. I read RDM not simply because I love Daniel’s writing style and I want to be well informed on Macs and PCs, but also to use what I learn as ammunition against those tied and/or holding on to Windows.

I’m the one my family usually calls when they’ve got a computer problem and since nearly all of them (save one aunt, who’s essentially mentally insane) have Dells, you can imagine how often I get questions. I’m working to change that however, and have already converted few relatives to the Mac. What’s surprising are the people who’ve come willingly and those that haven’t.

For instance, the oldest child on my mother’s side is a 60 year-old, know-it-all, conservative Baptist who’s vehemently opposed to change. Yet, once I showed her iWork, iLife, and told her she wouldn’t have to worry about malware, but could still run Windows if necessary, she was ecstatic. She does the family newsletter (that nobody reads), so once she saw Pages, she was sold.

Meanwhile, my closest cousin, a liberal living in a gay-friendly west coast city (b/c she’s gay herself), who had told me she liked Macs, brought up almost every single Mac myth, from incompatibility to being overpriced, after I questioned her logic in buying a $1300+ Dell. I did my best to clear up all the misinformation she’d been given by misinformed friends, but she simply wouldn’t have it. I asked her for the Dell’s specs and model number, and she literally said she wasn’t going to get up and find out. After she called me big-headed, I asked her in a final plea to go to her “amazing” new computer, download the Leopard Guided Tour, and watch it.

I expected a relaxed conversation since I thought logical, open-minded people like myself were more open to change. Strange how it turned out the exact opposite.

After our heated conversation, I waited a few days for a reply and emailed her, recommending she watch the iLife ’08 guided tour too, because she’s into photography and making videos. A week later, she reluctantly replied, agreeing to watch the iLife video…”next week.”

I’ll definitely be using RDM’s recent articles in future conversations with my “liberal” cousin.

11 nat { 12.15.07 at 3:20 pm }

I said:
“I expected a relaxed conversation since I thought logical, open-minded people like myself were more open to change.”

Ah, that sounded conceited! Meant to say:

“I expected a relaxed conversation since I thought logical, somewhat liberal people like myself were more open to change.”

12 lightstab { 12.15.07 at 3:23 pm }

@John Muir

The problem with people like my sister is that they’re exactly the sort of people that need computers that “just work,” but even when they get a Mac, it doesn’t really stick because they’re so adverse to computers in the first place.

My sister tolerates computers because you can’t avoid them anymore in every day life, but given the choice, she would do without them.

I had a friend who I was trying to get a job at a temp agency that I highly recommended. He dodged out of the interview when he found out he had to take a test on a computer. He was terrified, even though the test was a fairly simple one: multiple choice with selections using the arrow and return keys.

And even though the internet is supposed to be platform agnostic, I have noticed that every once and while, my niece will go to a flash site and try to play a video game that doesn’t support Safari or Firefox. Hopefully, that will be less of an issue in the future.

@russtic

I had the same experience when I first got my Mac, but I quickly got over it. I remember plugging in a third party mouse so that I could right click (this was before the Mighty Mouse) without using the control button and remember being slightly annoyed when I didn’t get a notification (like in XP) telling me that it was plugged in. And then I actually moved the mouse and the cursor worked, exactly as it was supposed to.

Looking back, I have to say that that small experience was the start of my obsession with Mac and OS X.

13 HG { 12.15.07 at 3:34 pm }

The Unswitchable story is interesting.

There’s definitely a disconnect between the PC mind and Apple mind. Between the PC developer community and the Apple developer community. The PC mind’s reference points are still DOS and the supremacy of the PC (by way of the corporate office). The Apple mind has made a radical evolution ever since NeXT took over. Today its reference points are more UNIX and platform oriented.

Apple is creating compelling devices and enticing developers to write code for them–in turn creating a halo effect for UNIX and Linux based platforms. I think the UNIX and Linux community owe Apple some credit, but I doubt they’ll concede this.

I don’t think the PC mind can easily adapt to the Apple mind. It’s mired in all of the 80s and 90s Microsoft indoctrination which effectively supplanted elegance with aberration.

14 russtic { 12.15.07 at 4:06 pm }

@ lightstab
Agree totally, in fact I have become a bit obsessed! As a family we now own 2 mac minis, 2 mac books and an imac.

My brother in law tried for years to get me to use macs and argued that they were overpriced and other specced.

He loaned me his for a week – I was hooked!

15 dmccaffe { 12.15.07 at 4:44 pm }

Soviet Apple?

An interesting comparison… but then I hear every body talking about Apple being the solution??? You probably could make a stronger arguement that Apple is following the Soviet model!

Apple makes their machines, Apple makes the operating system, Apple controls who can build software on their platform, and Apple makes their users use Apple proprietary formats for video and audio.

Apple doesn’t want to use standards… instead they wants to control everything. For example their their users cannot hook up a projector to the computer without buying a special adapter. Really its a tax you have to pay to use a non Apple component.

Apple also denies their users many things that they need. For example, the right to a 2nd mouse button even though they know it is a needed feature. Their users have to hold the one button down longer or to hold another key down while pushing the one button.

What company really has the IRON CURTAIN?

Seems like Apple users, just like Microsoft users comrads, developed a Stockholm Syndrome that prevents them from seeing or readily adopting alternatives.

16 lightstab { 12.15.07 at 6:00 pm }

@russtic

You know, even though I’ve been a Mac user for five years now, I still can not wrap my head around this “just works” philosophy with OS X. I was looking for a Web Cam for my G5, so that I could do a video chat with my niece in iChat, and I was dismayed to find out that the iSight camera had been discontinued. I did search upon search and couldn’t find a compatible web cam or at least, a camera that had software for OS X.

I went to the Apple Store and they only had one camera and it was by Logitech. I looked on the box and the requirements listed XP and Vista. Anyway, to make a long story short, I finally bought another Logitech web cam at Best Buy, even though it didn’t list OS X support on the box. The camera came with a CD that had Windows software.

I plugged it into my Mac, opened Photobooth to test it and wouldn’t you know, the web cam was working perfectly, without installing software, drivers, anything. In a word, “it just worked.” I feel stupid for doing all that research and doubting my Mac.

17 zpikzpan { 12.15.07 at 6:02 pm }

A good friend of mine tells me Mac users are “just lazy”. She loves the challenge of tuning and uncrapping her Windows machines. Another friend told me that if he’d buy a Mac, he wouldn’t have anything to DO with it. For some people, crap is just part of the computer experience. That which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. There is an even bigger divide between computer users and people who have to use a computer. The former are crazy, whether they use a mac or a pc (and I am guilty, having to use both); the latter are the ones who drive us mad saying things like “Seriously, what’s the difference?” and “Wait until the mac gets users, then you’ll have viruses too”. Which proves that while they may act stupid when talking about computers, they absolutely know what makes a geek tick – and go boom.

18 Shunnabunich { 12.15.07 at 9:42 pm }

Oh, dmccaffe, dmccaffe. I lol’d when I read your post. Anyway, here goes:

“Apple makes their machines, Apple makes the operating system”
Yup. That’s one reason they work so well.

“Apple controls who can build software on their platform”
Absolutely wrong. Anyone who owns a Mac can install Apple’s developer tools and write and release a Mac application on the spot if they know how to code.

“and Apple makes their users use Apple proprietary formats for video and audio”
Again, wrong. If that were so, QuickTime wouldn’t have a plug-in architecture for developers to easily add support for other formats. Search for Perian, if you dare. And QuickTime Player is not by a long shot the only media player on the Mac.

“For example their their users cannot hook up a projector to the computer without buying a special adapter.”
That’s because Apple has been using a more recent industry-standard display connector, DVI, than most projector makers seem to care for. Don’t blame Apple for other companies’ lethargy toward using up-to-date technology. Heck, next time you’re in an electronics store, take a look behind one of the TVs, and I bet you’ll find — what’s that? A DVI port! Just like those horrible Macs have, drat them.

“For example, the right to a 2nd mouse button even though they know it is a needed feature.”
Ah, and here we have a wonderful old gem of an argument that, sadly, faded into the mists of untruth when Apple started shipping a multi-button mouse standard with all desktop Macs, and making their trackpads able to detect a two-fingered click (look ‘er up) as a right-click. How we shall miss you. Until the next time someone pulls it out again for ignorance’s sake.

“What company really has the IRON CURTAIN?”
Microsoft. Thanks for proving this article right. That’ll be all.

19 Joe Sa { 12.15.07 at 10:13 pm }

dmcaffe: Apple uses standards for video & music (Mpeg 4)
Apple makes use & contributes to more open tech than MS. Which is one of the most proprietary software companies on the planet.
Apple computers ship with a 4 button mouse & have been able to use 2 button mice for a very long time now.

Seems you have no idea what you are talking about. I’ll let someone else dispel the rest.

20 lightstab { 12.15.07 at 10:57 pm }

Joe Sa, I usually don’t respond to clowns like DMCCAFFE, because once I hear someone say that Mac mice only have one button, when the Mighty Mouse has had more than one button for what, 3 years now, I know that they haven’t used a Mac and are speaking from a position of ignorance, but the open standard thing annoyed me.

Apple uses lots of standards including AAC, MPEG-4, OpenGL, and BSD. In fact, the framework that Apple uses for its Safari browser, WebKit, is based on BSD and elements of KDE.

Microsoft, on the other hand, uses proprietary software for its video (WMV), audio (WMA) and game programming (DirectX). Their internet browser also does not conform to internet standards and is the bane of web developers everywhere.

21 johnnyapple { 12.15.07 at 11:56 pm }

Nat said “I’m the one my family usually calls when they’ve got a computer problem and since nearly all of them (save one aunt, who’s essentially mentally insane) have Dells”. I need only modify that slightly.

I’m the one my family usually calls when they’ve got a computer problem and since nearly all of them (save one sister, who’s essentially mentally insane) have Macs. I don’t get a lot of calls anymore. One of them is still running OS 9 on a Bondi iMac – that one is kind of a problem. The crazy sister has an HP running XP. One of her daycare Dad’s has to repair and clean it about every 3 months. But she absolutely refuses to get a Mac next time no matter what the rest of us tell and show her because she simply doesn’t want to learn it all over again. She is so fried on the Windows experience that she simply cannot leave. It’s real fear. Does that sound like Stockholm Syndrome?

The only problem I have with several family members is that EVERYTHING is saved on the desktop so they “won’t loose it”. I dunno, I think it’s pretty hard to find things that way. I’ll keep working on that one with them.

22 thomast { 12.16.07 at 1:16 am }

Jonnyapple, regarding the “crazy” sister with an HP running XP, there is a specific word for her behavior: “institutionalization”. This is defined as, “In patients hospitalized for a long period, the development of excessive dependency on the institution and its routines.”

I have no better definition than this for long-term Windows users.

Amusingly, the word, “institutionalize,” as defined by MSN Encarta, is “To make something an established custom or an accepted part of the structure of a large organization or society.” So we see now what Microsoft’s long-term plans truely are: to institutionalize the world’s population.

23 mihomeagent { 12.16.07 at 2:04 am }

Okay, one by one.

“Apple makes their machines” – Yes. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be Apple machines.

“Apple makes the operating system” – yes, that’s right–the OS delivered with each machine. Again, that’s what makes them Apple machines. However, if you want, you can instead install Windows only, or Linux, or Unix, just to name three. So Apple makes machines and an OS, and does deliver them together. Do you have to keep them that way? No. (It’s also true you can put Linux on PC hardware. But then, that hardware is not built by Microsoft. They merely tie the hardware mfrs. down to their OS with onerous licensing requirements. Apple doesn’t have to do that to anyone.)

“Apple controls who can build software on their platform” That’s just simply false. Anyone can build software ON the Apple Mac platform, or FOR the Apple Mac platform, without Apple’s approval or intervention. Ever check out the Apple software world? Not just commercial, but shareware, freeware?

“and Apple makes their users use Apple proprietary formats for video and audio” That, too, is just false. Here are the video formats QuickTime/Mac OS can use (and produce in most cases): Animation, Apple BMP, Apple Pixlet (Mac OS X v10.3 only), Apple Video, Cinepak, Component video, DV and DVC Pro NTSC, DV PAL, DVC Pro PAL, Graphics, H.261, H.263, H.264, JPEG 2000, Microsoft OLE (decode only), Microsoft Video 1 (decode only), Motion JPEG A, Motion JPEG B, MPEG-4 (Part 2), Photo JPEG, Planar RGB, PNG, Sorenson Video 2, Sorenson Video 3, TGA, TIFF. I see a few that are proprietary–Apple owns three, Microsoft a couple, and more. But Apple doesn’t force the use of any of these, let alone Apple-only, proprietary video formats. Audio formats: 24-bit integer, 32-bit floating point, 32-bit integer, 64-bit floating point, AAC (MPEG-4 Audio), ALaw 2:1, AMR Narrowband, Apple Lossless Encoder, IMA 4:1, MACE 3:1, MACE 6:1, MS ADPCM (decode only), QDesign Music 2, Qualcomm PureVoice (QCELP), ULaw 2:1. How many proprietary there? One Apple.

“Apple doesn’t want to use standards” Apple explicitly does use standards. Just for example, AAC.

“For example their their users cannot hook up a projector to the computer without buying a special adapter.” Not true, of course. There DVI projectors out there, which do not require adapters (after all, DVI is a standard, not Apple proprietary equipment — it was developed by an industry consortium that included Intel, Silicon Image, Compaq, Fujitsu, HP, IBM, and NEC. Who’s missing from that list? Oh–Apple.) DVI-to-analog adapters are available from several manufacturers, including but not limited to Apple.

“Really its a tax you have to pay to use a non-Apple component” False. Could you possibly give one example? Answer: No. Because it’s false. In fact, using non-Apple components is often cheaper than using Apple components. DVI adapters can be had cheaper than Apple’s. Memory ditto. Hard drives: ditto. Ditto, ditto, ditto, for just about anything you can think of.

“Apple also denies their users many things that they need. For example, the right to a 2nd mouse button even though they know it is a needed feature” False, and not just because it’s stupid to talk about a “right to a 2nd mouse button.” I have been using two-button mouses provided by non-Apple vendors with Apple machines for over a decade. I don’t know how far back support for them goes, but it’s a long freaking time. And Apple introduced its own multiple-button mouse in August 2005.

“Their users have to hold the one button down longer or to hold another key down while pushing the one button.” Or just hold down the left mouse button on the multiple-button Apple (or any other brand) mouse.

“What company really has the IRON CURTAIN?” Apple clearly doesn’t, by your own standards; nor by anyone else’s. Microsoft is close.

24 mihomeagent { 12.16.07 at 2:11 am }

This stuff reminds me of people who say things like “MACS are for people who don’t know how to use a computer.” (They invariably spell it as if Mac were an acronym.) Always said without explanation. What could it mean? Oh, they don’t know how to edit registry entries… or use the DOS command line to–to what?… or… well, nothing else.

25 His Shadow { 12.16.07 at 2:14 am }

I have dozens of such stories, but I remember one in particular, although it’s not so much about a Stockholmed user, but a blinkered one.

A coworker and I were walking thru a CompuSmart. It was about 2000. I’m the Mac guy, he’s Windows all the way. I was talking about my iMac and my overclocked G3 PowerMac, and he made the offhand comment that “Apple and Macs just aren’t much of an influence.”

I had no reply. Not because there isn’t a clear history of Apple’s myriad influences on all aspects of computing, but because, at the very moment he made that comment, we happened to be standing in a peripherals aisle.

An aisle that was absolutely stuffed with 5 colour USB hardware, from keyboards to mice to scanners and everything in between. None of which existed before August 15 1998.

It’s part of the reason, I believe, that Apple users are looked at with such derision or indifference: many PC users are simply unable to relate to Mac enthusiasm because they have no idea of the history of computing, from why they have a mouse to how there came to be a Recycle Bin on their desktop. They are unaware that Apple and Macs exist and why they matter.

26 davebarnes { 12.16.07 at 2:55 am }

Very strange (and ignorant?) as this page http://www.microsoft.com/ru/ru/default.aspx shows that Microsoft does NOT change their name to suit the Russian alphabet.

27 PerGrenerfors { 12.16.07 at 4:48 am }

@dmcaffe

“Apple doesn’t want to use standards… instead they wants to control everything. For example their their users cannot hook up a projector to the computer without buying a special adapter. Really its a tax you have to pay to use a non Apple component.”

Ah. You must be thinking of the line of projectors that Apple makes and markets to unsuspecting Mac users. Yes, yes I fell into that hole myself once. But what do we know? We’re just mindlessly swimming along in our proprietary pond where there are no real standards such as VGA, BIOS, PS/2 or DLLs.

28 zpikzpan { 12.16.07 at 5:03 am }

@dmcaffe: do some research, the display connector Apple uses is a standard. I have a Dell screen at work with the same one.
If you don’t like the Apple connector – you know, one that connects one standard to another standard, buy any other connector from brand X. If you want a world with only one type of plug that connects everything without a fuss, I hear you, but go find a TV set that does that. Only toasters are simple.

29 Bobson { 12.16.07 at 10:26 am }

It’s possible dmcaffe is referring to the iBooks that had the mini-video port which you needed to use a (provided) adaptor to get to a standard format… I’m pretty sure they don’t do that any more…

30 JulesLt { 12.16.07 at 11:07 am }

#14 Dmcaffe

As per the comments above – what Apple formats? The only proprietary formats Apple use is the Apple Lossless Codec for audio – should you choose to rip lossless. Otherwise – as per other comments – it’s all MPEG open standards – H.264, AAC. (If they’d only called AAC, MP4 that would be well understood).
The Quicktime .mov format itself is an open standard – Apple handed that over years ago (ironically that is known as mp4). It’s quite easy to research this stuff on Wikipedia.

I’m guessing what you’re actually talking about are songs and videos purchased through the iTunes store, that wrap those standard files in an Apple proprietary DRM. Well, news for you . . there is NO such thing as an open standard DRM. The closest might have been MS ‘PlaysForSure’, being proprietary but at least working – sometimes – with multiple players – yet MS don’t use that for the Zune.

The mouse button thing does indeed show that you’re being ignorant. I’d also dispute that it’s something users NEED. For a new user, faced with a screen, mouse and a button, it is obvious what does what. With two buttons, less so. Why stop at two? A 6 button mouse is even more functionally powerful.

What amazes me is self-styled ‘power users’ that use this as a criticism rather that think ‘for $10 I can get a multi button mouse’.

[Some of your criticism is valid though. The kingdom of Apple is just as controlled as that of MS. Perhaps it's Norway compared to the USSR?]

31 nat { 12.16.07 at 1:26 pm }

johnnyapple,

I envy your situation, except for that crazy sister. There’s one for every family, isn’t there?

I guess I never mentioned that my liberal cousin is the daughter of that mentally distraught aunt. However, that aunt could very well switch back to Windows tomorrow or abandon computers entirely to live as an ascetic monk. She’s been an atheist, a wicken, and a devout Christian, switching multiple times. She’s very unstable; haven’t seen her since I was a child. Just found out she was a Mac-user from a different (sane) aunt who’s the only one in contact with her.

Fortunately, the rest of my family is both sane and more open to change, even though most of them are conservative Christians. With that said, I make sure to never mention to them that the founders of Apple were a couple hippies. :D

32 materro { 12.16.07 at 4:20 pm }

Dan, I think you’re attributing Mac dislike wrongly. It certainly is not Stockholm syndrome, which refers to abducted and abused people who come to love their captors. Your comparison is wrong because no one is forcing people to use Windows computers in their own homes, and certainly Microsoft is not forcing people to use Windows. What you’re describing is simply an inability to adapt to a new environment after long term familiarity in a different one. I think the premise of the article is ridiculous bordering on laughable. You can do better than this.

33 John Muir { 12.16.07 at 5:27 pm }

@ nat

A 100% Mac family here. And if anything I’m the crazy one: I switched first!

My brother, a developer, was the easiest to switch once I took the plunge as Jaguar already shamed XP all the way back then. I switched my least technical friend next … by letting him get used to the environment and then (only partly) joking that I’d cut off his free tech support if he went with Windows again! My parents were moved over, with a gift … there’s only so long a Pentium 3 can be left churning over in Spybot Search & Destroy.

The hardest people to convince are, as always, the semi-technical Windows die hards who mistake performance charts at Tom’s Hardware for useability and the annual cycle of new parts for “investment”. (Yes, I have one friend who insists on actually saying that!) The tinkerers, the fiddlers, the guys who feel cleansed with a reinstall of XP every spring … those are the trouble in my experience. Like a commenter said, it’s through fear of finding their acquired “skills” to be just as irrelevant as they already know they must be. But there you go.

I’ll just mutter “DirectX 10″ whenever they feel too cosy with 2001 AD’s Windows XP. That’ll scare them!

34 limey { 12.16.07 at 7:01 pm }

materro, denial is the first stage… :)

35 harrywolf { 12.17.07 at 12:15 am }

I think this line of analogies about Windows and Mac goes a lot deeper than computers:

All actions in these areas are wrought by the Ego, and the Ego has little common sense.
The Ego must always make the circumstances appear to be the one it chose, so in the Stockholm theory, the captives feel weak and powerless, but turn it around by becoming part of the power group, the Captors.

They agree with the insanity of the Captors and side with them in an attempt to not be killed – ‘if you are in the gang, we wont kill you’, would be the idea.

Conformity to the uninformed, or the weak, or the fearful is a quick route to a sort of second-hand power.

If the ‘Big Boys’ use Windows, then the little boys want to be a part of that.
There is a vicarious thrill if you know that the richest man in the world uses the same software as you, the worlds poorest man.

Power is seductive, but few can get it first-hand, so ‘joining the club’ will have to do.

Later, when the tools of the powerful are revealed to be sub-standard, as in the example of Windows troublesome software, the conformists find a great difficulty in changing to a better product.

Witness the traditional American car- buyer who would NOT buy a technologically advanced Japanese car in the ’70′s, calling them ‘rice-burners’.
Their hatred bordered on violence.

The Ego can NOT let go of the Flag it has decided to salute, even though it is plainly no good.
The blow would be too much. The Ego can NOT stand to be wrong.

The syndrome that we see with Win versus Mac is repeated in countless scenarios as fearful people cling to insanely out-dated and downright dangerous habits.

The man that has an operation on his lungs caused by smoking, leaves the hospital and lights up a cigarette in the parking lot, even though he knows it will assure his death.

The Ego in humans is so powerful that it will cause its host’s death before accepting change.

For a much more in-depth analysis of the Ego, check out Eckhart Tolle, the ‘new age’ author and thinker.

I call him ‘new age’ knowing that most will immediately reject him because of that appellation!
Thats the Ego for you!

Ask yourself if you know anyone that continues in suicidal behaviour even though all the evidence points the other way.
I’ll bet every one knows MANY people like this – and if not, check the mirror.

With computers, its perhaps no big deal, but it IS a symptom of Ego-driven unconsciousness…..

Do you REALLY want to suffer under Windows, or are you prepared to open up and try Mac or Linux?

Would you buy the iPhone if it were a Microsoft product?

Sadly, the stats show that Mac users are better educated, drink less, smoke less, are fitter, tend towards vegetarian or vegan diets, are interested in alternative low-impact fuels, will tend to drive import cars, travel more, are more likely to hold a passport, etc. etc.

If a Windows user reads the above paragraph, his position may become more entrenched than ever.

Sections of this post may contain irony or even sarcasm – please take a deep breath and say ‘Om’ three times before responding.

36 harrywolf { 12.17.07 at 12:21 am }

Oh forgot to say that right now, IMHO, this is the most entertaining and insightful ‘article and forum’ combo on the ‘net!
Good work, Dan Eran!

37 nat { 12.17.07 at 11:53 pm }

John Muir,

I can’t imagine an all-Mac family. Well, maybe I can. An empty inbox, no questions requiring me to visit Micro$ofts horrible support pages, I’d just start a screen sharing session in iChat to fix any small problems.

I agree on the semi-technical Windowz users. I had to deal with this rude foreign exchange student last year in my computer certification class (a horrible class that only dealt with Windows problems) who debated me ad nauseam, claiming Windows was always better. After a certain point, I simply nodded my head to whatever he said. I think that type of person doesn’t care that much about the subject they’re debating, but rather that they need to be feel they are right regardless.

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