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April 29, 2005

OT: How Different the Mac and Windows Worlds [9:21 am]

I, too, am looking forward to this upgrade without any of the upset that I know I feel when I have to upgrade my wife’s Windows machine:

The Strange Pleasure of Upgrading Software

Like many Apple computer users, I’m in a pleasant state of expectation. I’ve ordered Apple’s updated operating system, but it hasn’t yet arrived. I have housecleaning to do before I can install it: deleting dead programs in my applications folder, for instance, and backing up my hard drive. Then will come the almost visceral pleasure of installing new software. This is one of the most pleasant tasks I know, vastly easier than straightening up the barn or taking the truck in for service.

[...] Until a few years ago, the release of a new version of Windows would cause a splendid national frenzy. Millions and millions of units were wrapped and shipped and received with a nervous excitement. It was, in those days before huge multiplayer online games, the closest possible thing to a collective computer experience. And then the fun went out of it, after too many versions, too many software patches in rapid succession and, worst of all, the uneasy sense that an upgrade could turn into a can of worms.

Apple has not been perfect either, its imperfections amplified by a customer base as curmudgeonly as it is fanatical. But to me, coming from that other world, upgrading Apple software feels almost redemptive.

When Tiger comes, I’ll open the shipping box and tear off the shrink-wrap. But then I’ll have to remember that inside the box, there will be only a disk or two. (The days of printed manuals are long gone.) I’ll slip the disk into my computer, agree to the provisions of a contract I haven’t really read [emphasis added] and then sit back, waiting until the moment I can restart my computer and see what these pristine new instructions contain.

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