Computers Linux Ubuntu Windows

Please stop pretending Windows “just works”

As a follow-up to Macs are just computers, not magic and Macs are computers, not magic (part 2), I have to say based on recent events that people who say “There’s a reason 90% of home users use Windows” (and mean to imply it’s the quality of Windows instead of consumer inertia) or “Linux is for people who don’t value time. I’m going to stick with Windows because it works” are delusional.

Recently, at my job, I’ve been lending the occasional hand to the tech support department (even though I work in the Admission Office), and the problems we’ve been encountering have been problems that have challenged even tech support (not just the end users). I installed Adobe CS3 on a co-worker’s computer, and all of a sudden Microsoft Word would keep crashing and would start up in only safe mode. And a whole bunch of computers could not view embedded PDFs in Firefox.

Such incidents are not isolated to this job or any job at all. Throughout the last two decades, I’ve seen amongst family members, co-workers, and friends, too many Windows problems to even count. It could be anything from an “unknown error” when an application tries to start to a print job not going to the printer but being unable to be cancelled.

The next time someone says “There’s a reason 90% of home users use Windows,” I hope someone else replies, “There’s a reason 100% of organizations who use Windows have tech support departments.” As a matter of fact, computer problems existing has little to do with what OS you use. I’ve seen Mac owners complain about various Mac problems and Linux users complain about various Linux problems. There is no such thing as “just works.” Windows does not just work. Mac OS X does not just work. Linux does not just work.

The only way around this I can see is a redefinition of the phrase just works. Here’s my new working definition:

Fill-in-the-blank operating system has caused me personally (and no one else necessarily) fewer problems than other operating systems I have used, and when I do encounter problems, they are ones I can tolerate and not big enough for me to abandon this platform for another one.

Everyone who uses a computer either is a geek, becomes a geek, has a geek friend, or pays someone to be a geek. I know no one who buys a computer and thinks, “I know nothing about how to fix computer problems, I know no one who can fix computer problems, and I don’t ever want to pay money to have someone fix my computer. I don’t have to worry about that, though, since fill-in-the-blank operating system ‘just works.'” Anyone who would think that is in for a big surprise.

Further Reading
Windows Setup… or Why I hate Windows
What could it be?