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Originally published November 7, 2005 at 12:00 AM | Page modified November 7, 2005 at 6:40 AM

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Mac takes bite out of Windows

Hardly a week goes by that I don't hear from a friend or colleague with a monumental Windows problem. I tell them I'm glad to help, on one...

Special to The Seattle Times

Hardly a week goes by that I don't hear from a friend or colleague with a monumental Windows problem.

I tell them I'm glad to help, on one condition: Next time they buy a computer, they agree to consider a Macintosh. A year ago, after a particularly trying week of spyware, adware, viral attacks, lock-ups and reboots, I changed my primary computer to a Mac. I've dabbled with Macs since the late 1980s but never felt a need to change from Windows.

For the first couple of months after the switch, while I transferred e-mail and contacts to Mac programs, I was firing up Windows almost daily. Gradually, though, I found fewer reasons to go back. It was a snap to export text and data files to the Mac, then convert them to Mac applications. And programs such as iTunes, iMovie, Safari and iPhoto, which came with the Powerbook, were easy to learn and use.

The exception was e-mail and contacts. There are ways to get the data from Windows to a Mac, but they're cumbersome and not always successful. Gradually, though, the important correspondents and contacts got into the Mac mail and address-book programs simply through daily use.

When I made the switch, I thought I was a relative rarity. After all, we're constantly reminded of the Windows desktop monopoly and how little market share Apple has.

But what I found surprised me. A lot of techies I know, including some former Micro-softies, have switched. Among holdouts, I kept hearing their next computer would be a Mac.

"There's huge awareness among the general public about how much [Windows] PCs have been compromised," said Tony Bove, author of a new book, "Just Say No To Microsoft" (No Starch Press, $24.95). "My mother knows about it, and she's not even a computer user."

Note that we're talking mostly about personal use, not corporate. Most newspaper reporters and other enterprise workers I know use Windows because their employers supply them with Windows.

Custom Windows applications also keep users from switching, Bove said. But he expects many apps will become Web-based over time, meaning any computer can access them.

How much switching is going on? Commenting on Microsoft's recent quarterly earnings report, some analysts speculated the Redmond giant might be losing market share to Apple.

If that's the case, it might be a historical first. I can't think of any time Apple stole share from Microsoft (as opposed to Apple users simply upgrading).

For now, anecdotal evidence suggests something is going on. Bove likes to tell Windows sufferers, "It's not your fault. But it is your problem."

The easiest fix is simply to change brands.

Seattle freelance writer Paul Andrews has written about technology for more than two decades. He can be reached at

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