Thinking about a new computer? From an article in today's New York Times:
If you're the owner of a Windows PC who is looking for a replacement computer, the choices are grim. You can step into the world of hurt that is Vista, the latest version of Microsoft Windows that was released in January. Or you can seek out a new machine that still comes loaded with the comparatively ancient Windows XP.Randall Stross, the author of this article and of The Microsoft Way: The Real Story of How the Company Beats the Competition, seems to be telling us that a lifetime of Windows is inevitable, pointing to Apple's still tiny market share and citing a tech consultant who likens Microsoft's operating system and the hardware that runs it to a giant flywheel: "'It takes a lot of energy to spin it up, but once it gets going, it's virtually unstoppable.'" Alas, the analogy reminds me of the endless wait for Windows (XP) to finish starting up and of the dozens of times I had to hold down the power button to shut off a frozen Windows (98) machine.
Maybe, you might say, the moment has arrived to take a look at the Mac. You can easily order one online, of course. But if you'd like to take a test-drive before you commit, odds are that you'll have to look far and wide for a store that sells it.
I'm not persuaded that the Mac's limited retail presence is that crucial. The Mac interface can be studied at one's leisure at Apple's website. If one really wants to try before buying, Apple resellers can be found on or off campus in many college towns. A library or an obliging friend can also give the cautious consumer a chance to try a Mac. Still, the sometimes disarming simplicity of using a Mac — of, say, installing a program — is more likely discovered in ordinary use than during a test-drive.
The choices aren't grim: many people find Mac OS X ("ten," not "x") a joy to use. Having switched myself — first at work, then at home, no test-drives involved — I'd never go back.
A Window of Opportunity for Macs, Soon to Close (New York Times)