Most Users Simply Can't Switch to a Mac

I’m not surprised that Vista barfed on Philip Greenspun (RE: The $1000 HP desktop tower running Windows Vista), but I am surprised at his inline follow-up comment:

I returned the system to Best Buy (a painful process that would have taken hours on a busy weekend day) and she reverted to her ancient Dell. When she receives documents from people using Macintoshes, she cannot open them. If she had a Macintosh, she would be sending documents to her professional colleagues (all Windows users) and they would not be able to open them.

I two separate (and free solutions) for anybody with this problem. Understand, too, that I’m in Brad’s camp in respect to believing that Microsoft really missed the mark with Office 2008 for the Mac (it’s not a recommended purchase).

Most people don’t use the features inside of Microsoft Word (beyond inline spell check). Assuming she’s not dealing with macro-laden documents, “Office” compatibility should not be THE thing holding her back from getting a Mac.

There’s NeoOffice or Google Docs – both of which should be cross-compatible with what most people use Word, Excel, and PowerPoint for. If you want to spend money, iWork ’08 is completely worth every penny.

Philip continues his comment, suggesting that there are also Windows software compatibility issues at play. This is a much more difficult issue to deal with, as neither Parallels nor VMware Fusion have progressed to the point of being beyond brain-dead simple for the average user. The day that either one, or OS X itself, runs Windows apps natively… is the day yet one more argument for Windows on the user’s desktop disappears.

Ultimately, the solution lies in migrating to tools that (a) work via the Web / Internet, (b) don’t require platform-specific software, (c) adhere to open or largely accepted standards. Not every angle can be covered today, but I’m pretty damn sure we’re closer to desktop independence than we were last year.