Every now and then my wife asks me for computer advice, she doesn’t do so lightly because she thinks I’m an “Elitist.” Of course, several years of me saying “Well, you’d have a better time using Linux” has not helped me shed that label. Anyway, earlier today my wife was complaining about what a piece of trash her laptop is. It’s a 2 or 3 year old Dell, i7 with GTX 960 dedicated graphics. The thing cost $1200 CAD (at least) at the time. She asked what I thought could be causing it to be so slow and laggy and generally unusable. All I could say was “It’s not your hardware.”
It got me thinking about the whole ecosystem that has developed around Windows. Every time you get a new printer the thing wants to install the drivers, picture viewing software, picture editing software, an Explorer toolbar, etc. etc. The average user just clicks the next button until the installation wizard shuts up and all those “optional” software goodies (which are, by default, opted in. Remember that conversation?) get installed. Or what about the software you actually wanted to install? Well it’s all set to start automatically during boot, an option the regular user doesn’t even know exists. On top of that you’ve got your Anti-virus software the guy at Best Buy said they had to have which is almost Malware in itself. They do a google search for some software they think will speed up their slow computer, not realizing that more software is not the solution, and the website they find has 20 ads cleverly disguised as “download” buttons.
My view of the average user is skewed towards my own family and friends whom I’ve helped with their computers. Your mileage may vary.
In my opinion Windows is not the OS for the technically un-savy. If there was ever a time to use the phrase RTFM - Read the … Manual - it should be directed to anyone who thinks they want Windows. If someone doesn’t want to read the fine print when installing software or generally know what their doing on a computer or, god forbid, only put files on their desktop and nowhere else, they should not be using Windows.
It’s not all bad though. In 2 years time when their system is running slow, they just give them to me claiming it’s irrelevant old hardware. Imagine the e-waste problem we might not have if people knew their “computer problems” were not actually caused by the computer!
I think that a lot of people buy Mac computers just to browse the web simply because the experience is so much more cohesive and for most people the slogan “it just works” really does hold true. If the barrier to entry wasn’t so high, ie. the cost, I think everyone’s grandmother would be using a Mac. And the bonus, when you open the “start” menu advertisements for Candycrush don’t triple the size of the menu!
I’ve been on Linux for 15 years and I’m pretty sure I’ve had less problems than other people with Windows. Have you ever tried to find a solution to a Windows problem on the Microsoft forum or whatever it is? It’s just crickets, it seems like every problem you have you’re the only one who’s ever had it. Totally opposite experience on Linux. When I install software I know that’s only what it installs, other than dependencies but it tells me what those are! Linux updates when I say it can and it doesn’t need to reboot for 10 minutes. The software centers or repos are so much easier and cleaner to use than crawling through google search results for sketchy software. When I mess things up I can reinstall the OS if I have to without having to worry about license keys.
People make this joke “haha, sometimes I wonder which is smarter, the computer or me! haha” and I say “YOU put ‘sudo’ in front of anything and you’re as smart as you damn well please!”
My friends and family put up with this Windows dumpster fire so they can use MS Office, and one person uses Photoshop. Windows is just not for average users. It’s downright irresponsible to sell it to every Joe that walks through the doors of Walmart looking for a new PC. Those machines are practically being condemned to the landfill, right next to the last one that was just replaced.
I’m using a 9 year old laptop running an AMD 4 core APU and it is literally more productive than the machine my wife is using. How is this not the experience that people want?