So I’ve been using my Apple Powerbook for over a year now. I obviously like Apple or else I wouldn’t have added to my collection by getting an iMac desktop last Christmas. At first, my kids weren’t too happy about the iMac, but now they like it more than the other home desktop (a 2 G Mhz Sony with DVD/CD burner and lots of bells & whistles). They like the iMac because it looks cool and they can do their AIM chats and surf the web just like on the Sony. They also like the fact that Apple’s ‘rendezvous’ technology allows all the home computers with iTunes to share music, which means that they can listen to music upstairs on the Sony (or on the Dell Latitude laptop) even though the music they are listening to is physically located on, say, the iMac downstairs (actually every computer in the house with iTunes can access music on any other computer that has iTunes running).
I like the Rendevous technology too, but more for how it makes printing ridiculously easy. Here is an example of how Apple envisions that Rendezvous would work to make a computer user’s life easier. Let’s say you walk into my law firm’s waiting area and you pop open your laptop to check your emails using the wireless connection that we provide. You see that someone sent you a document that you are supposed to review, and you’d like to print it out since it is a 25 page document and you would rather read it in print than on a computer screen. So you choose “print” and you are presented with the list of printers that you had previously used. None of those printers are going to work when you select them while you are in my law firm’s reception area, are they?
But in addition to those printers there is also a choice that says “Rendezvous.” So you click on it and, lo and behold, there is a printer called ‘GAMDE Reception Area Printer.’ You figure that is the printer sitting over there by the receptionist and so you select it. A few seconds later, after a very short configuration process, the printer starts spitting out your print job. Amazing that you could so easily print to a printer that you had never even physically connected to before, right?
Well, I’ve done it just like that. The only catch is that the printer has to be ‘Rendezvous-enabled’ for this to work. But, increasingly the printers that are coming out are so enabled. The printer in our reception area is not currently a ‘Rendezvous’ printer, but there are 3 HP printers in our office that are. I have printed to each of them with my Apple laptop and it was great. If I had to figure out how to configure my computer to print to them without Rendezvous I’d quickly become frustrated and give up. So, here is this company with like 4% of the total marketshare creating an easy, foolproof way to print, with minimum configuration hassles.
Now why can’t Windows do this? Well, theoretically it can. Rendezvous is an open protocol so nothing is stopping Microsoft from employing this technology. Nothing is stopping Apple from doing it either, but Apple obviously isn’t going to write Windows based software to help PC users have a better experience with printing. Apple did write a Windows based version of its iTunes software, and when it did it used the Rendezvous protocol to allow music sharing. So, we know that Rendevous can be used in the Windows OS; not surprisingly, though, Microsoft hasn’t seen anything exciting about it and the fact that Apple gave birth to it will guarantee continued disinterest.
Call me crazy, but I think that computers should be so easy to use that the word ‘configuration’ becomes obsolete as a computer term. There are so many things about Apple computers that make life easier (e.g. they rarely crash, rarely need rebooting, and simply don’t need to have the OS reinstalled every year as part of ‘routine maintenance’). Macs are more secure, and not just because people don’t write viruses for them. I could go on with all of the things I’ve learned about Macs in the past year. But I’m really wasting my time here because if you have a Mac and run OS X then you already know what I’m talking about. And if you only use PCs then you are going to have to defend your choice (which for many, many people isn’t a real choice because they just bought what the herd was buying; at least that’s what I did up until a year ago).
But no one can dispute this statement: computers should be easy to use and they should, as much as possible, configure themselves. Having used Macs and PCs extensively over the past 10 years, I can tell you it’s not even a close contest. Apple computers are easier to use and configure.
Setting up a new printer on Windows machine is sometimes plug and play, but usually it involves making some key selections from a series of dialogue boxes. The Louisiana Driver’s License test is easier than the Windows printer configuration scheme. Right now in my house I have two printers, one attached to the Airport Base station in the upstairs closet, and the other attached to the iMac downstairs. If anyone came into my house with an Apple computer they could print to either of those printers right away. Zero configuration.
But even though Macs are easier to use, I’m not going to tell you that I am getting rid of all my Windows computers. I’ll always have a Windows computer around. Of course, I’ll probably always reboot it every night to clear out the cobwebs. And, I’ll reinstall the operating system every year to eliminate the OS rot that has built up. And every other week I’ll download the latest ‘critical update’ patches. And I’ll run SpyBot routinely, and maybe AdAware too. But dammit, I will keep that Windows machine around even though I will routinely curse it, and wish that I could smash it with a sledgehammer.
Yes, the sad fact is that Windows is so pervasive that I probably can’t live without at least one Windows machine in my house. But, at least I’ve learned that I’ll live a much happier life if the rest of them are Macs.
P.S. If you want a better practice, check out this Ultimate Guide.