I generally try to respect the fact that the vast majority of my users visit this site using a PC, but I liked this comment from Brent Simmons, developer of the amazing NetNews Wire, in a recent online discussion about RSS on the Mac. The moderator asked the developers why there are so many RSS readers for Mac OS X, especially considering that it has a relatively small user base? Here is how Brent responded:
It’s mostly because Mac users like to try cool, new, interesting things — especially things that help them get more done in less time.
Windows users, it seems to me, have endless patience. They reboot their systems, run virus scanners, go nuts fixing weird conflicts. With that kind of patience, surfing in your browser from site to site isn’t that bad. But Mac users want things to work, and they want their software to help them get things done, and they like trying new and different things.
Another reason it looks so disproportionate is that, to compare the relevant market share, you have to subtract all the Windows computers that are just cash registers.
For instance, there’s a Windows machine at the front desk in my local car repair shop. It’s not running an aggregator. It probably has a web browser, but only because it comes with the OS. Macs are rarely used for things like this. But there are seven trillion Windows machines living such sad lives.
I too am continually amazed at what Windows users are willing to put up with. In general, I find that Windows users are much less likely to know how to use many of the features sported by their computer. I’ve encountered many Windows users who don’t even know how to copy and paste text from one application to another, I doubt that there are too many Mac users with this problem. The features are there, but the awful GUI makes it nearly impossible to know how to use. Most Windows users actually seem somewhat afraid of their computer, worried that trying something new might cause it to blow up, while Mac users (I believe) feel more comfortable trying out new software and new ways of doing things. I don’t think this reflects on the users as much as it does on the design of the operating systems.
I feel sorry for the “sad lives” of Windows machines and their users, but I’ve long given up trying to convert people. I understand that change is traumatic and most people would rather live with an illness they know and understand than risk trying something new, even if they believe it might be better for them. From what I hear on the radio this is why so many people are voting for Bush.
UPDATE: See the Errol Morris “switcher” ads, like the Apple switcher campaign, but for former Bush supporters.