Scripting News: Why Windows lost to Mac.

First, understand that this is a blog post, a highly prejudiced thing, completely determined by one self-important person’s experiences.

I’m a hypocrite too. 🙂

Anyway, I lived through this.

A picture named smallLaptop.gifI was a Windows user in 2005, when I had to get a Mac because I was supporting people who used my OPML Editor app on the Mac, as well as Windows. It didn’t seem right that I couldn’t see what the updates looked like on the Mac, even if it was open source software, and not generating any money for me. So I bought a $1000 white plastic laptop in the Apple store in Toronto. It was the first time I had been in an Apple store.

It’s a long story why I was so uninterested in using Apple products at the time. I had been an early Mac developer, shipping a product in 1984, and continuing to develop through the mid-90s. But when my product, Frontier, became available on Windows in 1998, I switched to Windows. Windows machines performed much better than the Macs of the day, and Apple had a new strategy every four months. I was very happy to get onto the safe ground that Windows offered.

Back to 2005, the first thing I noticed about the white Mac laptop, that aside from being a really nice computer, there was no malware. In 2005, Windows was a horror. Once a virus got on your machine, that was pretty much it. And Microsoft wasn’t doing much to stop the infestation. For a long time they didn’t even see it as their problem. In retrospect, it was the computer equivalent of Three Mile Island or Chernobyl.

Anyway, that’s why when I read Gruber’s and Arrington’s discussion about why the Mac won, I was once again amazed about what a fog we all live in, and how little grasp there is of other people’s experiences. I don’t doubt that for these guys malware didn’t make a big difference. Maybe I was the outlier, maybe not many other people thought it would be nice to take a vacation from fighting the viruses. And then the vaction became permanent. (As it did for me. I dabbled in PCs after getting the white laptop. But I bought basically every bit of hardware Apple has offered since then. And I made most of my friends do so too.)

We don’t do well at sharing experiences on the net about these subjects. The flamers pretty much control discourse, or have in the past. I think that’s one reason our grasp of history is so hazy. A lot like the great movie, Fog of War. See it if you want to understand more about the tech industry.


About Dave Winer

Dave Winer, 54, pioneered the development of weblogs, syndication (RSS), podcasting, outlining, and web content management software; former contributing editor at Wired Magazine, research fellow at Harvard Law School, entrepreneur, and investor in web media companies. A native New Yorker, he received a Master's in Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin, a Bachelor's in Mathematics from Tulane University and currently lives in Berkeley, California.
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