It may be true that “the clothes make the man,” as the old saying goes, but can anything similar be said of a user’s computing preference?
Indeed it can, at least if a recent Hunch survey is anything to go by. Mac users are generally a much more interesting bunch, according to Hunch’s “Profile of a self-described Mac person vs. PC person,” which was published recently as an infographic.
In fact, Mac users are younger, more liberal, more urban, more educated and more likely to eat Shawarma than PC users are, according to the report. Oddly, they’re also more likely to consider themselves “computer-savvy gearheads.”
Was the survey taken on Opposite Day? That, dear reader, is for you to decide.
‘They Do Tend to Stand Out More’
In any case, intriguing as the results of Hunch’s survey may be, they have generated no end of controversy in the Linux blogosphere.
First, of course, were the more than 600 comments on the Hunch site itself, varying all over the board from self-congratulatory agreement to righteous indignation.
“When you see someone at the coffee shop with a PC, the natural inclination is to think, ‘that person has a computer,’ whereas when you see someone with a Mac, it’s ‘that person has a Mac,'” wrote Derek Smith in the comments, for example. “So they do tend to stand out more.”
Then again: “yes, they do tend to stand out more, because they stand out as dumb asses who paid more for a f***ing computer,” shot back Papoose34328.
‘PC’ vs. ‘Windows’
It wasn’t long before some columnist at PCWorld picked up the issue from a Linux perspective, arguing that “PC user” really shouldn’t be equated with “Windows user” anymore.
From there the Digg crowds got involved, and the din in the blogosphere soon reached a deafening pitch.
Linux Girl put in her earplugs and headed down to the blogosphere’s Broken Windows Lounge for some more perspective.
‘Macs Are PCs’
“Every time I hear this horrid terminology use I quickly interject to remind the person saying it that PC means Personal Computer,” Hoogland added. “Last I checked OSX was designed for personal computers, so their Mac is a ‘PC’ just as much as my Linux box.”
The Hunch study is particularly interesting because of the 23 percent of respondents who refused to classify themselves in either the “PC” or “Mac” camps, Hoogland opined.
Those users “are either using Linux — unlikely, as much as I hate to say it — or recognize what I already said is true: Macs are PCs (over priced ones at that!),” he concluded.
‘The PC Is Being Redefined’
“Of course a PC is a personal computer — a generic thing,” blogger Robert Pogson agreed. “Personal computers come with many operating systems or no OS. Folks who assume a PC has M$’s OS are ignorant or dupes of M$’s ‘technological evangelism.’”
Microsoft “made itself the default platform by seducing software developers to work for M$ by writing code,” Pogson explained. “They sustained the monopoly by spreading FUD about other operating systems.”
Today, “M$ has the promotion of its software and the denigration of all other operating systems down to a science,” he added. “It has enlisted many layers of dupes in the ranks of academia, journalism, consultants, developers and technologists to spread the word in many subtle ways. We see it in astroturfing, FUD, patent-threats, and even SCOG v World.”
Such has been the magnitude of “this fortress of FUD,” in fact, that “it was all over until Android/Linux on ARM came along, doing an end-around/flanking operation,” Pogson opined.
Now, “while M$ is trying to catch up, the PC is being redefined,” he said. “A PC will soon be a small, cheap computer likely running GNU/Linux or Android/Linux on ARM.”
‘They Proved That When They Bought a Mac’
It’s not at all surprising that “a self-selected group of Mac users who like to take studies which characterize themselves are going to be perceivably ‘elitist’ and will have more expensive tastes,” Hyperlogos blogger Martin Espinoza told Linux Girl. “I think they proved that when they bought a Macintosh.”
Of course, “the percentage of Linux users is likely small enough to cause a minor site like Hunch to have problems finding a statistically significant set of them, and statistically, no one cares,” Espinoza added.
“While I find Linux to be great for desktops, I think it’s clear that its greatest successes to date have not been in that arena,” he pointed out. In addition, “I am also a Windows user, albeit recalcitrant; I have a netbook (subnotebook, really) which only runs Windows properly and I also dual-boot my desktop for gaming.”
Consultant and Slashdot blogger Gerhard Mack wasn’t particularly surprised by the study, either.
“I have gotten used to the fact that people forget Linux people are here, even though I am seeing more of us out there,” Mack told Linux Girl. “Think about it: The stability of the Mac minus Steve Jobs’ control freakery plus I can perform network diagnostics in a way that I just can’t on Mac or Windows.”
‘A PC Is IBM-Compatible’
For Slashdot blogger hairyfeet, however, PCs and Windows go hand-in-hand.
To suggest otherwise, in fact, “is as silly as renaming a ‘manhole’ a ‘personhole,'” he asserted. “Sure they may have the same guts, but I have an old G3 with a Radeon card in it — does that suddenly make it a PC?”
Rather, “a Mac is a Mac, a PC is an ‘IBM-compatible personal computer,’ which is where the bloody name came from in the first place!” hairyfeet opined. “Is a Mac IBM-compatible? Not unless you toss the OS for Windows, in which case it is just a really expensive Windows machine.”
Instead of arguing over terminology, hairyfeet suggested, “we should ALL be pushing for standards to kill the massive ‘designed for the dump’ e-waste nightmare the OEMs are creating.
“Laptops should have standard form factors with standard parts, the same as ATX and mATX, ARM should be kept as a low-power embedded chip instead of trying to jam it into the X86 roles which it was never designed for, and we should demand replacement parts be made affordable and batteries should have standard sizes and connections,” he asserted.
‘PC Means Generic’
“I sure miss those ‘I’m a Mac, I’m a PC’ ads,” mused Barbara Hudson, a blogger on Slashdot who goes by “Tom” on the site. “I think they did a lot to create a perception that there’s a difference between Mac and PC users.”
The truth, however, “is that there are plenty of people who use Windows on their Mac,” she pointed out. “It’s the computing equivalent of KD — ‘mac and cheesy’…”
Much of the skew in user profiles between the two groups in Hunch’s study, meanwhile, is likely due to “Apple’s resurgence in colleges and universities over the last 5 years, which would tend to give Apple a younger user base,” Hudson suggested.
“As for assuming that a PC computer is a Windows computer, that definitely works for me,” she added. “To most people, ‘PC’ means a generic PC, and generic implies blah, lowest common denominator, bargain basement, no frills, shoddy, plain, drab.
“That’s why Apple computers aren’t seen as PCs, and fortunately neither are Linux computers,” Hudson explained. “To Linux users, Windows is just a driver for oddball multifunction printer/scanners.”
Of course, “in a few years ‘PC’ will refer to a ‘Pocket Computer’ running Android or iOS,” Hudson predicted. “Problem solved! Except … what will we call the ‘old PC’ then — aside from ‘obsolete’?”