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The opposite of Apple: A Mac user's weird experience buying a PC laptop

John Moltz | Jan. 21, 2015
John Moltz bought a PC for his son. Darn kids and their video games.

Since this was a laptop for my son, I did like Microsoft's Family Safety feature, which allowed me to set up his computer with a child's account and track the websites he visited and how many hours he was using each application. OS X has a similar feature that lets you access parental controls on your child's computer from your own, but Microsoft provides a web interface and sends a weekly email summary. Family Safety actually helped me realize that some kind of adware was installed on the machine, forcing every bit of web traffic to make a call to an ad site. This either came installed on the machine or my son broke the record for getting infected, as the report indicated it was accessed from day one.

And that's the thing about the standard PC user experience. Between the adware and crapware that's preinstalled it's hard to figure out what's actually malware. Microsoft has tried to help by selling computers through its own stores that are bloatware-free and by allowing OEM customers to make clean Windows installs for a nominal fee.

You don't have to do this. You can instead choose to live in the equivalent of a 19th century workhouse, continuing to slave away for free for a PC OEM or an adware company. But at some level the cost of cleaning up the computer or the opportunity cost of not cleaning it up should be factored into the price. Yes, I technically got the computer for $719, but this extra junk reminds me that I didn't get something approaching Apple's level of user experience (and something only vaguely close to Apple's build quality).

Whose life is this anyway?
Ultimately, who is responsible for the user experience here? With a MacBook, it's Apple. Simple. With a PC it's Lenovo. And Microsoft. And some other unexpected party that somehow got its software onto your machine.

What I don't understand is why there's no PC OEM that takes the user experience as seriously as Apple does. Why isn't there one with a rationalized product lineup, aimed at a broad swath of customers (Razer's is rationalized, but only focuses on high-end gaming), that all come with a clean Windows install? OK, I'm not a great businessman, but if I were in the PC OEM business what I'd copy about Apple is not the silver body and black keys but the giving a darn about the user experience. Yes, you'll never get Microsoft out of the mix, but that's no excuse for junking up everything else.

 

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