Special one-time offer: Comments! Vista! Mac!

As promised, I am giving a rest to the whole question of Vista, the Mac, hibernation, blue-screen crashes, etc. We're phenomenally fortunate to have today's computers at all -- I remember the days of the TELEX machine and the suitcase-sized Compaqs and Kaypros -- and I forswear further whining. And to think back to the days before most software had "auto-save" or "recovery" features. Brrrrrr!

Unfortunately a lot of interesting e-mail arrived only after that promise kicked in. So after the jump, a few of the interesting addenda and responses. Anyone who would like to pursue the issue is invited to do so via Comments, enabled for this post only.* Anyone who is bored by this entire topic -- Sorry!

*Update: Never mind! The Movable Type editing screen I am looking at has the box for "Accept Comments" clicked Yes. But the actual post shows no Comments line. Oh well. The e-mails below are still interesting, and they will have to suffice.

1. About the Mac (and Apple's marketing blunders)
"Your posts on considering switching to Macs remind me of one of my pet peeves as a long-time Mac fan: the irony that even now Apple insists on repeating the historic blunder that originally handed the industry to Microsoft and Windows.

"With Vista stumbling badly and Apple having never been hotter, Apple could aggressively expand MacOS market share if only they could stop tying their superior software to their premium-priced, pretty, but functionally undistinguished hardware. (And with Mac hardware now virtually identical to Wintel PCs internally, the irony is even richer.) The gaps and pricing oddities in the Mac product line dampen the Mac's potential even more."

"Microsoft proved that for software -- where the marginal cost is close to zero -- the most profitable strategy is to license to multiple commodity hardware vendors who slug it out with low margins and expand the market. This principle has been borne out in all kinds of IP licensing including DVD players, mobile phones, hard disk technology, CPU chips, flash memory, etc. It's a shame that Apple's fighting this well established trend, and one can probably trace this directly to Steve Jobs, who's always loved closed boxes. "

2. About the Mac (and Apple's marketing chicanery)
"Best wishes on your potential conversion to a Mac!

"The year you bought that computer, 1978, I joined Digital Equipment Corporation, the maker of PDP-11s as well as VAXen, which are still valued today (purchased from HP, which bought Compag, which bought DEC) because they NEVER crash.

"One of the most interesting phenomena in the intervening time has been the continuing ability of Apple to sell 80% of the functionality at 150% of the price. Programmers long ago gave up being stunned at such anomalies, because they already assume that anyone who's not a programmer is an idiot and can't possibly be expected to make reasonable choices about computing power.

"But as a former tech writer, I've concluded that Neal Stephenson has a point [passage that follows is from Stephenson's "In the Beginning was the Command Line," here) :

"It is a bit unsettling, at first, to think of Apple as a control freak,
because it is completely at odds with their corporate image. Weren't these
the guys who aired the famous Super Bowl ads showing suited, blindfolded
executives marching like lemmings off a cliff? Isn't this the company that
even now runs ads picturing the Dalai Lama (except in Hong Kong) and
Einstein and other offbeat rebels?

"It is indeed the same company, and the fact that they have been able to
plant this image of themselves as creative and rebellious free-thinkers in
the minds of so many intelligent and media-hardened skeptics really gives
one pause. It is testimony to the insidious power of expensive slick ad
campaigns and, perhaps, to a certain amount of wishful thinking in the
minds of people who fall for them. It also raises the question of why
Microsoft is so bad at PR, when the history of Apple demonstrates that, by
writing large checks to good ad agencies, you can plant a corporate image
in the minds of intelligent people that is completely at odds with
reality. (The answer, for people who don't like Damoclean questions, is
that since Microsoft has won the hearts and minds of the silent
majority--the bourgeoisie--they don't give a damn about having a slick
image, any more then Dick Nixon did. "I want to believe,"--the mantra that
Fox Mulder has pinned to his office wall in The X-Files--applies in
different ways to these two companies; Mac partisans want to believe in
the image of Apple purveyed in those ads, and in the notion that Macs are
somehow fundamentally different from other computers, while Windows people
want to believe that they are getting something for their money, engaging
in a respectable business transaction)."

3) About Vista (and its blamelessness for hibernation problems):
" The dirty truth is – there’s probably nothing wrong with Windows Vista hibernate. This is not just party line (I’m an ex-Microsoftie), I happen to believe it. I run Windows and never have problems of the sort that most people have.

"I have a no-brand laptop built by a system integrator in North Jersey that you’ve never heard of. It’s got 2 GB RAM, same as your Thinkpad. It takes Windows 20 seconds to go from the “Resuming Windows …” screen to when I can begin work. That includes a mere half-second lock-up when the computer looks like it’s ready, but actually isn’t. Contrast this with your experience. I’m guessing “an inexplicably long time before [the Thinkpad] will respond to any commands” is much, much longer than half a second.

"Why the discrepancy? Because I’m running a super-clean copy of Windows. In contrast, what you’re running is Windows plus a bunch of crap that IBM/Lenovo decided to load onto your Thinkpad. Plus, not to mince words, software that you installed yourself. Any one of these applications, system services, and device drivers, could be causing the slowdown. Any one of these could be causing your computer to not respond, but it’s practically impossible for a non-technical user to figure out which.

"The irony is, Microsoft’s success in getting Windows onto the overwhelming majority of computers worldwide is also its greatest weakness. Microsoft simply has less control over the end-user experience than Apple. Macintoshes come squeaky-clean instead of loaded with junk; they use higher quality components than most PCs; and they cost more. All of these factors are interrelated.

"The Mac is gaining market share. But will it ever get sufficient market share to give the PC world a kick up the backside? I’m not holding my breath. This is classic Industrial Organization at work, and I’ve studied enough economics to know that rational competitors maximize profits rather than market share or consumer satisfaction."

4. About Vista (from a new purchaser):
"Last week i arrived in vegas and my pc packed up i went to
frys spent $2200.00 on a new super duper fast machine - but its seems to
be running with the handbrake on! i'm sending you this e-mail from
thunderbird because outlook wont send any e-mails in china for some
security reasons - now i know why people have a huge dislike for bill
gates with out ever even meeting him!"