Allchin’s Rant About PCs vs. Macs

Windows Vista Team Blog : Setting The Record Straight Jim Allchin responds over on his blog regarding a recent news report quoting him as saying that he would have bought a Mac if he weren’t working for Microsoft in an email to Steve Ballmer and Bill Gates. The email surfaced as part of an ongoing trial between the State of Iowa and Microsoft, one of the last remaining state anti-trust trials that Microsoft is defending. Allchin says that the email was taken out of context and that he was being purposely dramatic in order to drive home a point.

Recently after 15 years of using PCs I switched to a Mac. My decision to switch and the articulation behind my switch got a lot of attention, ending up on dozens of blogs and even ending up on Apple’s main home page.

So far I’ve only been on a Mac for about a month now but I will say that the difference between Macs and my old Dell laptop running Windows XP is like night and day. There is simply no comparison as to how superior a machine the Mac is to my old Dell. And I think this is at heart what Allchin was talking about. Macs just work. PCs running Windows don’t work. They are broken in very fundamental ways. Allchin reportedly in his email said that Microsoft had “lost sight” of customer’s needs.

This said, Macs are not faultless. My friend Kristopher Tate recently had to send his in for repair and my friend Tantek Celik has pointed out problems that he’s had with his Mac in the past. But despite these problems, overall, in general, they just work. They are a tool and because the tool works better, that makes me a more productive blogger, photographer, father (yes, getting things done faster on the Mac leaves more time for the family), and CEO.

I believe despite Allchin’s claim that his statement that he would buy a Mac were he not a Microsoft employee was for dramatic effect, that there is probably some truth in what he was saying.

So the challenge for Microsoft, and in some ways to an even larger extent Allchin himself personally, is to ship Vista in a state that is as bug free as the Mac.

Vista is Allchin’s final legacy at Microsoft. After a long successful career this is his last hurah and in order to be successful it simply must be perfect.

Allchin writes, “2-and-½ years later, Windows Vista has turned into a phenomenal product, better than any other OS we’ve ever built and far, far better than any other software available today, in my opinion. “

We will see. I certainly will be upgrading at least one of my PCs to Vista when it ships and will give it a go. The demo stuff I’ve seen of Vista has been very impressive — but fundamentally for me the most important question will be “does it just work?” Does it just work like a Mac does?

Allchin’s blog layout by the way looks pretty slick.

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9 Comments

  1. I ran the Vista Beta and have tried the RTM version (legally, via MSDN) and can tell you that it definitely does a better job of getting to the “just works” goal than any previous windows version.
    But all of these posts have gotten me wanting to try a mac now. I’m especially interested in trying out Aperture for my photo management.

  2. Anonymous says:

    The nice thing about Windows is that it works with almost everything.

    The bad thing about Windows is that no one but Microsoft has an incentive to make a Windows machine run well–and almost everything Windows works with is made by another company.

    One solution, such as it is, is to impose stringent quality-control requirements on OEMs, etc. Since the Microsoft lawsuits have killed this solution, you’ll notice that Microsoft has been increasingly looking toward vertical integration (e.g., Xbox 360, Zune).

    The Xbox 360 just works.

  3. Thomas Hawk says:

    Anonymous, you are right about the XBox 360, that too just works. Of course mine is back at Microsoft being repaired right now because it stopped working in less than a year, but I’m sure that’s the exception rather than the rule. I’ve been very happy with my XBox 360. The support on the telephone in getting it sent back in for repair was really good as well.

  4. I think you’re making an overstatement when you say “PCs running Windows don’t work. They are broken in very fundamental ways“.
    That’s not true. Sure they have lots of problems but that’s because they’re the number one used thing in this digital era. You’re not beeing objective here I believe.

    I have a thing for laptops so my dream combination is going to be a macbook + Windows Vista, probably next year I’ll buy one.

    Cheers.

  5. Bender says:

    I agree to some degree that “PCs running Windows don’t work. They are broken in very fundamental ways”, but then again a PC is just the sum of many parts won’t you say?

    You can’t fault the PC industry for giving you the liberty/option to choose whatever hardware/software you want. It’s bittersweet I know but it’s what it is. If you don’t like it just go get a Mac and move on.

    Outside the US (for those that think everybody is rich outside their county or city) having that “choice” it what give us the “privilege” of having a computer most of the time.

    I realize most Apple users find the word “choice” a bit confusing but it means you don’t have to settle for what someone else decides you’ll like best.

  6. Hi Thomas,

    “But despite these problems, overall, in general, they just work”.

    I’m not sure the “they just work” phrase is quite that adaptable or pliable ;)

    Macs have their strengths for certain things and Windows PC’s have their strengths for others. I know of lots of people who run Windows PC’s and are perfectly happy.

    Now of course Windows is far from perfect (I run Linux at home), but you could very easily say that OS-X is absolutely broken when it comes to *my* place of work. It doesn’t run AutoCAD so it’s completely useless to me.

    Generalizing is not a safe bet. MS has 95% of the market. It can’t be all that bad and fundamentally broken (and that comes from somebody who runs Linux!).

  7. Anonymous says:

    AutoCAD not working on a Mac isn’t Apple’s fault and its not indicative of a problem with OS X. Its a business decision made by AutoDesk. Mac’s are tools and aren’t right for all jobs. I wouldn’t call a hammer “fundamentally broken” if it couldn’t turn a screw but I might say that if the claws pointed up instead of down.

  8. Jonathan says:

    Xbox 360 might “just work” but when you combine it with a Media Center machine it gets flakey, when you have 2 x Xbox 360 it gets worse!

    Vista might “just work” if it can be installed, but I have tried and it fails to install badly – read my post here http://jonathan.faces.com/Blog/Posts/16279/

  9. Gray Lensman says:

    Vista is going to require a more powerful PC in terms of RAM, processor speed, etc. The best way to run Vista may be to buy a new machine with it already installed. I wonder if that is the whole idea….?