The first thing I have noticed early in my life as an Apple user, is that it is much more difficult to customize the visual aspects of the OS. In Windows there are hundreds and hundreds of sites, that allow me to download different themes for desktops, icons, points, etc. It is one of the things I always did with my new machines and even did from time to time. What I’m seeing with Apple, is theme modifications is much more difficult as it appears OS X is getting closer and closer to what can be called iOS. From what I have been able to gather, even as recently as Lion, there were many different ways to personalize your machine. However, in the latest version of OS X, Mountain Lion, although some of these personalization can still be applied, most of what could be modified, no longer can.
Another difference I find between the users of the two OS’ is the forum experience. Although I haven’t mentioned it before in my postings, my distaste for Apple products was not solely based on my previous experience with a Macintosh Classic. It also stemmed from the people who used Apple’s products. I found and still do find, Apple users have a sort of arrogance and superiority when you talk to them or ask them questions. I’ve noticed this whether I was reading some tech website or when I’m in a forum looking for the answer to a question I have. I’m not saying all Apple users are like that; but I find the expression “The Cult of the Mac” very fitting for Apple users and not a term I would ever dream of hearing about a Windows user. In my opinion, the major difference in the two types of users is Apple users love their gadgets, while Windows users, use their gadgets.
As a new user of Apple’s OS X, I find myself often searching the web to find out how to do certain things. My low point, at least from a personal point of view, was when I searched how to easily rename a file. In Windows, tap the F2 key and type the name you want. I would have never guessed in a million years that in OS X, tapping the Enter key on a file, would allow me to change a name. Hitting Enter is so engrained in my psyche that it opens a file/folder, that I would never think to use that to rename a file. However, that is neither here nor there.
While there are many people in the various Apple forums who are helpful and answer questions with precision and sometimes patience, I find there are just as many if not more, who seem to have an arrogance in their answer. The single most popular answer I have seen to the more technical questions, is “Why do you want to do that”? Does it really matter why the person wants to do it? Even after the person answers why they want to do what they want to do, they are more often than not faced with multiple people explaining why they should not. If people are warned about the consequences of doing something and they still want to do it, that should not be yours, mine, or anyone else’s problem. The adage of buyer beware should apply here.
In one of the forums, a question was asked about needing the default root password to modify a configuration file. The first answer the person received was, the aforementioned “Why”. The person explained what he wanted to do and once again asked if anyone knew the default root password. Rather than explain to the person why you should not log in as root and explain to him the dangers of modifying configuration files. The person received yet again another response of “You shouldn’t use it”. The original poster explained that he was a UNIX and Linux Administrator, he has been working on these OS’s for years and was quite familiar with the dangers of using root for anything. One would think at this point, someone would have either private messaged him the password to avoid less knowledgeable people from getting it or just given him the response. Instead he was told again what the dangers of using root and that he should use other methods to modify the file. He then explained that he had tried different methods; but none let him save the file after modification because of a problem with rights. The discussion on the inherent evils of having the root password went on for another two pages, by which, I no longer saw the OP posting in the forum.
Even sometimes the simplest questions get the most asinine of answers. I was searching what the different symbols meant for doing keyboard shortcuts. The first answer I came across, was in response to a similar question. The reply was simply RTFM. The OP didn’t even bother to respond and probably did what I did, look somewhere else. The problem with this kind of answer, is that there is no manual that comes with your new laptop. You get a few brief instructions how to start-up the machine and configure for internet access; but after that you are on your own to find the answers.
If I compare all the above to the experience of asking and having questions answered in forums dedicated to Windows users, I can sum it up as such. Your question is asked and an answer is given. No one asks why you would want to do what you want to do or questions your motives. If clarification was needed, a more detailed answer was given. Easy Peasy.
I think the forum experience, can go a long way to improving someone’s perception of a product and its ease of use. It is in these forums where people like myself go for answers and not disapproving remarks or comments asking why someone would want to do something. Although the experience in the Apple forums, is drastically different from that of Windows, does not take away from the Apple experience. The internet can sometimes be seen as the bullies domain. You can sit behind your screen, say whatever you want and know there will be little to no consequences to what was written. It’s just a shame that sometimes I have to go to a few sites or pages to the find the answer I’m looking for. It’s more frustrating than anything else; but not something I blame on Apple, just a few bad seeds.