While I must admit I am a fan of Mac OS X and Apple computers in general, I was for over 10 years a Windows user: our family's first computer had Windows 3.0.
That said, I read an article titled Five Things Apple Made Up on CNet Asia today talking about Apple's controversial television advertisements (you can watch them on the Apple website). Now granted I think the advertisements aren't perfect, and I do agree that they are a bit one sided and lacking in detail, but all that aside, I still think Apple was right.
These were the "five things that Apple made up":
Ad #1: Which Vista
In this advert, Mac laughs as PC tries to choose a version of Vista to install. PC claims the six different versions make picking one really hard. Of course, the truth is picking a Vista is easy–there are three versions for home and three for work. We can rule out the work ones because your IT department will take care of that. The three that remain are Basic, Premium and Ultimate. Basic is useless, so forget about that, and Ultimate is too expensive, so that just leaves Premium. See, that wasn’t so hard now, was it?
The number of versions of Windows Vista is ridiculous, pointless and serve no purpose other than confuse consumers. I still have people ask me what the differences are between Windows XP Home Edition and Professional! With Mac OS X you don't have to pay extra to get a version that isn't deliberately crippled, there's one version with all the world class features, and that's it. There's no ambiguity.
Choosing a version of Windows is not clear cut. First of all with the amount of time people spend on their computers these days people don't just use their computers for home use or just for work. Also I think the author is forgetting that Average Joe or Jane computer user really don't know much about the computers they're using, let alone their operating system. They just want something that works.
See, that wasn't so easy now, was it?
Ad #2: Security
Here we find PC with a hefty bodyguard–anything Mac asks him has to be confirmed by this man in black. Now, my problem with this advert is that for years the whole argument from Apple has been “PCs aren’t secure, buy a Mac”. Now its argument seems to be “PCs are too secure, buy a Mac”. So which is it Apple, do you want security or not?
Irritating pop up messages that appear so often that people just get used to hitting "Allow" without reading what they say is no argument for security. The advertisement in question is not saying that Windows computers are too secure, the advertisement is saying that because Windows computers have so many security problems, Microsoft had to take drastic action. The result was a poorly implemented warning system that did everything to irritate end users and nothing to improve security.
Ad #3: Tech support
Today, PC is having a Webcam fitted. This is apparently a huge deal, because IT has to come up and install it. We are then told by the IT guy that “Macs come with webcams built-in”. What he fails to mention is that many PCs, such as the Sony VAIOs and ASUS various sportscar themed machines, have had built-in webcams for ages. And if you never want to make an arse of yourself on YouTube, wouldn’t it be nice not to have to pay for it?
I partly concede this point; it is true a few PCs come with webcams. A "few", not "many".
Ad #4: Surgery
PC is getting Vista installed, and needs to have a hardware upgrade to make Vista work. Of course, there are risks to an upgrade–PC might not make it. What this advert fails to mention is that most PCs built in the last two years, with 1GB of RAM, will take to Vista like a duck to water. At least a PC is designed to be upgraded–and that’s a good thing. With a Mac you can add more memory, and that’s about it, meaning when Photoshop needs more power, you have to buy a whole new cheese grater.
I would encourage the author of this article to look up the "Windows Vista Capable" public relations disaster in Google. The fact of the matter is that most PC's built in the last two years don't come with 1GB of RAM and certaily won't take to Vista like a duck to water. Windows Vista is a bloated, inefficient operating system built on top of a crumbling kernel that does little more than Windows XP managed to do with a fraction of the system resources.
While I agree Mac computer upgrades tend to require new machines, notebooks are the fastest growing segment of the computer market and what this author fails to mention is you can't really upgrade notebook computers, and these are the machines people will be trying to shoehorn Vista on.
The point of the advertisement he was discussing was that the PC had to go for surgery to get an operating system upgrade that was going to put a lot more demand on his resources with little to no improvement in his productivity.
Ad #5: Pie chart
This is our favourite, because it’s here that Apple claims PC is no fun, that all he’s designed to do is work. Of course, Apple totally fails to mention games. There was one Mac-only game, back in 1996: It was called Marathon and entertainment-starved Mac users went mad for it. Oh, and it was developed by Bungie, so all the Mac fans cried tears of blood when Microsoft bought the company and set them to work developing Halo for the Xbox. For us, this one is the nail in the coffin of these adverts. PCs are great all-round computers: They do office stuff and fun stuff. And they do it without complaining and without being smug.
PCs are great all-round computers? But wait a minute… the author said in point #1 that you need to choose between a home based distribution of Vista or a work one! He just reinforced the argument I was making about only having one version of Mac OS X that does everything! Whoops!
I do agree though that the gaming selection on Mac is crappy at best, but the whole point of the advertisement is not that PCs are no fun, it's that you can buy a Windows machine and get a bunch of cheap, sub-par programmes, or you can buy a Mac machine and you get all these polished media tools that let you make some really amazing stuff easily and have fun while you're doing it.
So that's my take on Ian Morris' article. I've since mostly moved on from Mac OS X (I use FreeBSD with KDE now instead) but I still stand by most of Apple's comments in the aforementioned advertisements. It also shows Apple has a sense of humour, something that perhaps Microsoft should be trying to get.