Confessions of a Repentant Windows User

Blame It On the iPod

I always wanted to be a Macintosh guy, and not just because all the cool kids were using Macs. To be honest, I just never much cared for PCs. I bought a Commodore 64 back when they first came out, and spent months convincing everyone I knew they were better machines that PCs. Hell, I spent years doing that, even after IBM had moved on to Intel’s 286 chip, while Commodore was saddled with the slow 6510 processor. But for what I wanted to do (play “Red Storm Rising” and “Raid Over Moscow”), the C-64 really was the better machine.

When the time came twelve years ago to step up to a real computer, I really wanted to get a Mac. There was just one problem: You could fly an X-Wing only on a PC. What I longed to do, more than process words or spread sheets, was to fly as Luke Skywalker down the Death Star trench. And back in ’94, you couldn’t do that on a Mac. So I got myself one of Compaq’s DX 486/50 machines. Six months later, when I tried to upgrade, I regretted the decision.

I didn’t regret getting a PC, because “Tie Fighter” had just been released, and you couldn’t fly for the evil Galactic Empire on a Mac, either. But I sure as hell regretted buying a Compaq, because upgrades cost twice as much as they did for other PC-“clones.” By that time, I’d forgotten all about my old Mac desires.

A few years later, the Internet got big. Really big. So big, that viruses became a big problem. A really big problem. A few years after that, PC users had to worry about spyware. We still do. (In fact, I just read in PC Magazine that the two best anti-spyware programs could only detect and block two-thirds of the bad stuff that’s out there.) But you know what, I still wasn’t thinking about getting a Mac.

Then last March I got myself an iPod.

The iPod was great, but iTunes was a revelation. Either you use iTunes and you’re already nodding in agreement with me, or you haven’t and you don’t understand. If you’re in the first camp, then I don’t need to detail the revelation. If you’re in the second camp, then there’s no point in trying. Just try the PC version of iTunes for a few weeks. It’s free, and so is the revelation.

What I want to do today with my computer is analogous to what I used to do with my old Commodore. I have three big tasks, none requiring major horsepower. I need a solid word processor, a smart spreadsheet, and absolutely top-notch digital photo software. Also, I’d like to play some games. In other words, a Mac and I would get along great.

Problem is, I’ve got umpteen jillion dollars sunk into Windows software. I’m locked in. I’m stuck. And I’m not just stuck with all my old stuff, I’m also stuck with viruses and malware and system reinstalls and crappy networking and all the rest of Bill G’s baggage. Or am I?

Later this year, Apple will introduce a line of Intel-based Macintosh desktop machines. Now I’m no computer whiz, but a Windows-on-Mac emulator should work acceptably well on a “Mactel” computer. An emulator might not work well enough for games