My boss/friend recently tipped me off to a Wired News article about a subculture of Windows users who like to “skin” their user interfaces to appear as much like Apple’s OS X as possible. As a Mac zealot, he of course wonders why people would waste their time trying to imitate something when they could just get the real thing. But I really get where these folks are coming from, even if I have no clue where they find the time to do all this stuff. Have they no lives?
First of all, I grant that the OS X interface is a lot slicker than Windows XP’s. That said, I doubt it matters much to those who are doing the customizing. To dip into the realm of sweeping generalization for a moment, here is one of the main differences I notice between Windows and Mac fans: Windows fans like to tinker with the OS. They like to push their programs until they break. They like to tweak the system until it screams. And they like to “mod” the operating system until it looks like something entirely different.
It’s the same kind of difference that you see between those who like to buy the brand-new, beautifully designed car and take it to the shop whenever there’s a squeak and those who’ll take the beater, rip apart the engine, and rebuild it into a souped-up hot rod.
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There was a time when this was sorta true. Kinda. You’ve always been able to mod the Mac more than people realize… and that’s especially true now that there’s UNIX under the hood. You can touch pretty much anything, and people do.
So why don’t more Mac users soup up the interface?
1) It’s done (mostly) right in the first place, so less inclination to to tinker.
2) If we want to kill time, we’re more likely to do it in GarageBand or iMovie
3) We’re getting work done
Excellent points, Watcher! This is just the sort of response I was hoping my entry would provoke. Thanks for the comments!
I must confess sometimes I “cringe” at a lot of articles I’ve read from the Macintosh user community. Do people have nothing better to do than to bash Windows all day? I only make this comment because I use a variety of platforms for both work and personal use. I recently added a G3 800 iBook to my personal computer collection. I like it a lot, but I’m not going to sit here and tell you I’ve seen the light and that I want nothing more to do with any Windows systems. I run XP Professional at home and quite honestly it’s the most stable version of Windows I’ve run.
I avoided having to go to Windows for the longest time as well, so I’m not coming from the side of being some sort of Micro$$ zealot. Sometimes you guys (Macintosh community) are as bad as the Windows fan-boys. I do appreciate OS X very much because of it’s networking and interoperability in a Windows environment. I also got a great deal on the iBook as well. I use my computers to make music. What a pleasure it was to find out I could just copy my working files and audio from XP to OS X and stuff just plain work.
At the end of the day, It doesn’t matter what you use, It just matters if you can get the job done with what you have. That’s my spin on things.
I was at a CompUSA store back in February waiting to talk to a sales associate about some hardware in the Mac section. I saw a gentleman giving a demo of “GarageBand”. I couldn’t help but laugh a little because one of my favorite Windows programs is an application called “Acid”.
I stood there and talked with a woman briefly and asked her to please excuse me for chuckling because of people making a big deal about “GarageBand” because I’ve been using a program that’s VERY similar to it (“Acid”) for over 4 years now.
So seeing “GarageBand” and being an “Acid” user makes me think that “hmmmm, OS X and Windows are more alike than different”, much to the chagrin of a lot of Apple users.
Just an observation, based on one app that supposedly highlights “ease of use”.
Oh, and I get work done too, no matter what the platform.
I would also say, don’t fault people for wanting to tinker with things, that isn’t an accurate statement to make/imply saying that they tinker because something doesn’t work right. 90% or so of Windows users don’t mess with all that stuff.
Hey, I don’t bash either operating system. Both have their distinct advantages and disadvantages. I am a manager of a company that specializes in media, photos, text, layout programs, html editors and the like are the bulk of the software we run and like a lot of companies, our workhorse computers for this are Macs. Yet as a manager with some graphics skill, I have been forced for years to move back and forth between the two worlds using the Macs for the little technical work I do and PCs for checking financial statements, reviewing budgets and communicating with other managers in our company.
But at the house, I finally deciced to upgrade to a Mac on my last computer purchase. In this world of cross-platform programs (and I mean SPECIFICALLY MS Office and a few other programs), the Macs can operate equally well with the PCs. OS X had a lot to do with that and I feel the need to tinker with my computer far less now that I am a suicide Mac user. Others argue that Photoshop, Quark XPress, Indesign and Go Live! work equally well in a PC world as my office programs do in a mac world. So I say it depends on what floats your boat. As one earlier contributer to this string said, though, Mac’s new operating system doesn’t beg to be tweaked much. I would argue that in addition to that, OS X gets out of your way and lets you work unlike XP and earlier Windows systems that are always asking you to find the C: drive or other DOS-throwback lingo that puts the OS in your face.
I conclude that I think Windows XP is great. But I would expect a company that has dibs on 90 percent of the computer market (Microsoft) to make the kind of revolutionary leaps from one system to the next as a company that has dibs on less than 10 percent of the computer market (Apple) made from OS 9.x to OS X. Apple, with less money, less market share and fewer users can still make a system that can be run alongside a MS system credibly. And were I Bill Gates, that would scare the hell out of me.
Aesthetics and functionality are completely separate preferences. Maybe some people prefer the functionality of Windows and the look of Mac.