A couple of weeks ago, I decided to finally get rid of my desktop machine and start using a laptop so I can have all my information at my fingertips, without having to sync all my machines. I already have a lot issues syncing with my Android phone, iPad and my Mac mini which works as my media server at home, so the idea of having a single computer to use at home and on the road seemed very attractive.
I’ve been a constant user of all sorts of Apple products, but this time I was thinking about giving Microsoft and Windows 7 a chance when looking for a new computer. Windows 7 looks great, its very stable and it has quite a number of applications that can replace my current ones on Mac OS X.
I started with my usual suspect. I had to go to Dell’s website. Note that years ago, when I was a networking consultant, I worked with Dell when it was considered the Crème de la Crème of personal computers. The quality was amazing and the customer service, based in Austin, in a fabulous building at the Arboretum. But that was then and today, their website is a tremendous mess with an unlimited number of choices to select your ideal machine. So many choices, in fact, that soon after arriving, I was horribly overwhelmed with the number of models, to the point that no differentiation is apparent. It may be great for their corporate users, but for a single user, it makes things very complicated. When Steve Jobs returned to Apple, one of the first things he did, was reduce the large number of models Apple had and made the selection process a lot simpler. Perhaps its time for Dell to rethink their strategy.
On I went to HP. Unfortunately for the, their website was even worse and the variety of computers available at Best Buy showed me clearly that they have been engaged in a battle to see who can come up with the cheapest prices on a PC. Let me tell you, it shows. It is clear that HP now competes with Gateway, Acer and all the other, cheap plastic case computer makers. Not impressed. On top of everything, HP announced their exit from the personal computer market, so that helped me substantially, eliminating not only HP but also all the other clones available.
Another visit, this time to the Sony Store. At this point, I was already annoyed by people telling me what computer should I get. Sony had a lot of models, some big some small, but in the end, the only model that I liked ended up being almost twice as much as the model I selected.
Overall, I found that most manufacturers have an unlimited number of models and configurations available making it very hard to compare, excuse the pun, apples to apples, and most of them are made of what seems to be cheap plastic, with rattly keyboards, so after days of research and visits to the computer store and the mall, I headed again to zoo that this days seems to be the Apple store, and no wonder. People are magically attracted to the design and beauty of the products.
In the end, I ended up where I started, looking at the new line of Macbook Air computers. Beautifully executed design and cut from a single piece of aluminium. They just feel great. So I ordered my new 11″ Macbook Air, fully loaded, and let me tell you, I couldn’t be happier. It is by far, the best computer I’ve owned.
I will not sing the praises to Apple except to say that design and quality come as an integral part of the manufacturing, and that, to me, made a world of difference.
So, after such an experience, I’m still left with the intention of trying out Windows one day. All of this, of course, had to happen several weeks before Windows 8 was announced, which would have influenced my decision a bit, I suppose. Yet after I purchased my newest computer, an great article explaining to great detail what happened, was publish by ARS Technica, describing perfectly my experience by someone else (Link Here). And after that, 2 of my favourite podcasts featured commentaries based on the same experience (Link to Hypercritical…Link to The Talk Show).
So unfortunately for Microsoft, they couldn’t get me back to use a Windows machine. At some point Microsoft will have to realize that they have a great operating system with Windows 7 and Windows 8 looks even better (Here is a link to a the article on Windows 8 from the great Andy Ihnatko). However they are still at the mercy of their hardware partners. Microsoft will have to think how to address the quality issue with the computers that run their software. In this regard, Apple has everything to win as they control the complete environment, but there has to be a way to get a premium computer at a decent price. If Microsoft can find the right partner, they maybe able to get into a segment where Apple reigns supreme. Until then, I’ll keep waiting, perhaps someone will enlighten me and show me to the piece of hardware that may bring me back.