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Arnold Kling has a Ph.D. in economics from MIT; founded, one of the very first commercial websites, in 1994; separated from Homefair in January 2000 after it was sold to Homestore; is author of Under the Radar: Starting Your Internet Business without Venture Capital, and is an essayist. Send comments to us at

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February 13, 2004

Apple vs. The Evil Empire

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Posted by Arnold

Conservative writer David Frum says,

I love Apple computers, but they don’t seem to love me in return. I’ve just had my fourth major computer crash in 18 months – this one on a second iBook that replaced the lemon that suffered the first three crashes. Sorry for the offline absence. I’ve now secured a loaner and will be filing from it over the next few days.

I'm deliberately not linking to the article, because the rest of it has nothing to do with Apple.

My point is that while I've had freeze-ups plenty of times, I have not had a "major" computer crash (something that set me back more than a few minutes) on any Windows platform after Win95.

If you use a computer for word processing, email, web, and other routine stuff (as opposed to using it to test bleeding-edge software or applications), you really should not have to suffer through a "major" computer crash. Should you?

Comments (8) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: software market and open source


1. Brad Hutchings on February 13, 2004 12:36 PM writes...

Yeah, the biggest problem with Apple is that since they sell a complete system, they get the whole blame if everything goes wrong. It would be helpful to know whether this was a hardware or software problem, whether it was Mac OS X (modern and solid) or MacOS 9 (elderly and fragile), etc.

Anyway Arnold, you're beating the worng dead horse. The Mac market is niche, elitist, and generally better looking and more intelligent than the predominantly Windows market. We are the people you should look to for inspiration. You should beat up on the Linux crowd. They're the ones who actually think they are entitled to gobble up Microsoft market share.


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2. Bill Brown on February 13, 2004 03:39 PM writes...

Your Windows experience is unusual. I can't count the number of relatives and friends who have had to completely reformat their hard drives because Windows had become unbootable. Moreover, several of my tech friend are constantly reinstalling Windows (not literally, of course).

As for the Mac, I've been using Macs since 1994 and I've never had a major crash. I had a hard drive fail once in a 10-year old Mac but it was from the horrible Amelio era.

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3. Bill Brown on February 13, 2004 03:41 PM writes...

Oh and what's more, I've never had a virus or worm *ever*. I don't have any spyware anywhere on my computer and I have spectacular uptime.

As for Windows, I think that they didn't have their act together until Windows 2000, which I find to be the first Mac comparable version out there. Comparable to OS 9, that is.

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4. Dave Schuler on February 13, 2004 06:17 PM writes...

Dear Mr. Kling (and other Mac-philes):

I realize that I'm entering into a religious argument here but, well, fools rush in, etc.

1. It's a lot easier to be stable with a closed system.

2. The reason there are fewer Mac-specific nasties is not any inherent virtue of the Mac or inherent vice of Wintel. It's simple ROI: more disruption per hour invested in development.

I'm for diversity. There are applications for which a Mac is the best choice, application for which Wintel is the best choice, and applications for which Linux is the best choice. We need more diversity not less. Computer monoculture is risky just as agricultural monoculture is risky. In diversity there is stability for all of computing.

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5. David Thomson on February 13, 2004 07:19 PM writes...

I use a Mac at home and a Windows system at work. My needs are very modest and both options are fine. And yes, I also have had little trouble with a Microsoft product in the last five years. Perhaps I'm just lucky? I suspect that far too many people judge Bill Gate's offerings by their experiences in the relatively distant past.

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6. Randall Parker on February 18, 2004 03:07 AM writes...

The problem with single user reports of OS troubles is that with millions of users out there for any one OS you can always find one guy who has a series of hardware or software errors just by bad luck. I'd want to see some more rigorous comparison of Mac OS X vs NT/Win2k/XP before reaching any conclusions.

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7. Eric on February 18, 2004 05:11 AM writes...

I have owned over a half-dozen different macs since 1985 and they all still work, none of them have suffered from any problem other than the occasional crash. Now that I run OS X, a system crash happens maybe once a month if not longer.

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8. Mike on March 3, 2004 01:20 PM writes...

I have always been a Windows user until the last two years when my workplace persuaded me into a Mac (iBook, OSX). I really have not been satisfied. The OS has been fine in terms of crashes, but I can't find the kind of software I need to run on Mac. Plus the iBook has had two vicious hardware failures in under two years.

As far as Windows crashes, more unscientific theory is that people who don't know how the Windows OS works tend to crash it more often. But I guess the same would go for car engines.

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