Is it the PC that is the true computer of the people?

On Tuesday I wrote an article on my blog about how Apple Mac computers get on my nerves. It was a little harsh perhaps, but despite my obvious inverted snobbery it did get me thinking about the pros and cons of Mac or PC from a development point of view.

I once heard the Apple Mac touted as computers for people, an alternative to the human orientated wintel PC. At the time I was a Mac user and thought this seemed like a perfectly reasonable comment to make, after all the Mac has a half decent OS and the hardware is as stylish as it is well built. Also, SCSI and 16 bit sound came as standard. The PC on the other hand doesn’t look all that and has an operating system who’s musical equivalent would probably be James Blunt.

All was well and good with me and Mac until I left a creative industry to start college, which was a PC stronghold. The change over wasn’t that difficult as most things where in the same place, if anything the machines at college seemed to be that bit more stable than the Macs I’d used before.

The true turning point came on an autumn day in London. Whilst working for Fatty on a paving job at the Millbank Tower (that’s another story) I found a dented PC in a skip, covered in brick dust. Whilst it wasn’t going to break any records for speed, I used it for the whole of the first year and even used it to build an ASP site. Things got better when I realised that the cracked software available worked flawlessly, I was hooked.

The throwaway PC theme continues with our home network. The two laptops that myself and Mandy use were also dragged out of a bin. They can be customised, salvaged for parts or modified with open source operating systems very easily, and that’s where the fun starts.

It’s because the PC has become so cheap that users don’t get attached to them. As a patronising analogy, consider having a vintage Triumph Spitfire in the garage, great for impressing your mates, but an old XR2 would be faster, cheaper and more reliable. So despite the let down of its most popular OS, it is the common old PC that is actually the peoples computer. An everyday tool that can be anonymously recycled, never too precious to leave outside with a label on saying, ‘Please take me, I work’.