Microsoft must have put drugs in the water.
Al Fasoldt's reviews and commentaries, continuously available online since 1983

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Why buy an ugly beige box?

Oct. 1, 2006

By Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2006, Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2006, The Post-Standard

   Ever wonder why cars look so stylish while PCs look so drab?
   What is it about Toyota that enables its designers to come up with the Yaris while Dell dishes out ugly boxes?
   My guess is that we're all to blame for the basic unattractiveness of PCs. They're ugly as cow faddle because we've been buying them no matter what.
   But would you buy a 2007 Honda Civic even if it looked like a rusted refrigerator? Would you still covet the 251 mph Bugatti sports car if it had the lines of a Ford F150?
   Style matters to the automobile industry, but so far the PC industry never heard of it. Oh, 'scuse me; of course those PC companies know about style: You take an ugly beige box and paint it black and you've suddenly created a stylish PC.
   This is totally dumb, especially since PC manufacturers have had plenty of opportunities to see, smell, touch and schmooze stylish computers. I'm referring to the ones from Apple, of course -- models like the current iMac, in which the screen is the computer. Or the computer is the screen, whichever way you look at it.
   That version of the iMac has been sold for a couple of years -- plenty of time for those other guys to come up with an iMac look-alike of their own -- but nobody else has done this so elegantly. An entire computer housed within the back of the screen? And only two inches thick? Including the power supply and the CD/DVD burner?
   Even more interesting is Apple's newest screen size for the iMac. Now you can buy an iMac with a 24-inch display. That's not big; that's HUGE.
   Because it's an Intel-based Mac, the new 24-inch iMac can run Windows -- after all, it's an Intel PC -- and you can even switch almost instantly between the Mac's regular programs and any Windows programs. All you have to do is buy a Mac and install Windows on it in some spare hard drive space.
   The only thing Apple couldn't do in its stunning design was to make Windows as safe as OS X. If you run Windows on what is otherwise the safest do-everything home computer around, you'll have a Windows PC. It will be just as dangerous as every other Windows PC. With Windows running on an OS X Mac, you have all the problems of Windows running on an ugly beige box.
   So, in a sense, the fact that Apple can make a beautiful computer that can run Windows just as well as an ugly box is like finding out that your neighbor's dog can talk gibberish. It's incredible that the critter can talk, but it's stupid to care about it; after all, he doesn't make any sense. Running the most dangerous operating system sold to the public on the safest computer sold to the public sure is different, isn't it. But why buy a new Mac and then stick with Windows?
   Sometimes I'm convinced that Microsoft puts drugs in the water supply. These drugs block the neural transmitters that would allow Windows users to realize that Mac OS X actually does run the kind of software they want to have. Like Microsoft Word. Or Photoshop. Or MSN Messenger. Or AOL. You see what I mean.
   Oh, of course I'm just being cute. There's no drjghs inh th wahug suprlj.
   Odh. I'mg feeklng dizrhy. I lovn Windzo. I lovn Windzo!