On Operating Systems and User Idiocy

This past days, I had an argument with my friend concerning the video “Is it KDE or WIndows 7?” He commented that this is because Linux is not that famous, and as the discussion progressed, he said (I think) the old argument about Windows’ ease of use. As a retaliation, I said that Windows is for idiots.

From here on, I would like to warn the reader that this is more of a rant, so that if you don’t like rants, you can skip the following discussion (or sound off the comments section).

Moving on…

How did I arrived at the derogatory(?) statement that “Windows is for idiots?” It seems that ease of use, market share, and the user populace have a connection when it comes not only to operating systems, but also to other scenarios.

First, let us explore the community, or the user population. Minority groups tend to have a very tightly-knit community, each sharing the passion of others. However, as the group becomes larger, the bond existing with each other tend to be weaker and weaker. As a real-life example, it is said that a problem of the Roman Catholic Church is the proliferation of “passive members”: those who only view the Holy Mass as an attendance and/or a simple appointment, and as a consequence take the Church’s teachings very lightly.

Related to the statement above is the issue of the market share. Of course, the market share of a certain stuff increases as its user base increases.

The combination of the two leads us to the following ordering:

Windows > Mac > Linux

Now the issue of ease of use.

Windows world: boasts of a very user-friendly interface and user-friendly experience. Tries its very best to hide to the user the inner workings of the operating system (and consequently, the programs written for it). Emphasizes that all user operations be done via a GUI (Graphical User Interface), as evidenced by hiding the terminal in Accessories, and as to further punish it, limiting the command set into maybe 40-50 commands. To do anything, a user is expected to install applications for almost anything, ranging from such tasks as setting an alarm to burning CDs and DVDs (and possibly Blu-ray disks). There are no third-party applications installed by default. Maintenance consists of periodically defragging the hard disk (and the registry by some applications), installing anti-malware programs (incorrectly called as anti-virus programs), cleaning the registry of bad or broken keys (done by various programs), installing patches released by Microsoft during Patch Tuesday. Known to become slow as more it is used.

Mac world: Known for its very intuitive and very elegant interface. Boasts of a very easy installation procedure, wherein a .dmg file is only dragged to the Program Files folder (considered to be installed) or to the Trash folder (the uninstalling process). Being a Unix derivative, it is more secure than Windows. Some people complain that the interface is too much dumbed-down. Maintenance consists of installing basic anti-malware programs (I think not a major priority as compared to the Windows world), maybe some disk-defragging, and installing updates and security patches (there is no specific day of release as compared to Microsoft’s Patch Tuesday).

Linux world: Widely known as “the operating system for geeks.” Boasts of a very powerful command line and command-line-based tools and a very customizable system (can be customized from the way the GUI is presented up to the very small detail on how the kernel works (if you know what you are doing)). Also boasts of being very secure out-of-the-box, and also being very fast, especially in regards to low-spec machines. Maintenance include installing upgrades and security patches (but not at a high priority as compared to the Windows and Mac worlds). Installing programs is a breeze, as it consists of going into a package manager like Synaptic ticking program(s) you want to install, and clicking apply (as compared to Windows and Mac wherein you search the web for a specific program, download the installer, and running it). Boasts also of many ways of doing the same thing, as evidenced by the many Linux distributions up to the very many free programs that does the same thing (e.g. text-processing programs like OpenOffice, KOffice, Abiword, Gedit,  Kate, Mousepad, etc.). Known to not slow down as it is used; there have been accounts of systems running for one year without being shut down. Also known for smooth multitasking; accounts of running 150+ applications simultaneously have been documented on YouTube.

In relation to the community:

Windows world: Having the largest community, users tend not to be that close to each other. Users usually only want that things work, and therefore are afraid (or not that inclined to) to tinker with their boxes. Users are expected to contact tech support if something goes wrong.

Mac world: Users tend to form a close community. Fanboys exist (people who want others to only praise the operating system, and lash out at others decrying its “dark side”). Users are somewhat adventurous to try new things with their Mac-based gadgets, as evidenced by guides on how to unlock the iPhone, etc. Forums are lively.

Linux world: Since it is widely known that it is the operating system for geeks, users are expected to have a moderate-to-high level of knowledge in order to operate it. This is somewhat changing (for some users’ disgust, like me), as the operating system becomes more and more popular (and ease of use has also been given too much priority, resulting in the gradual dumbing down of some distributions). Users are encouraged to tinker around with their boxes, and trying out other distributions and programs as well (it is very common for Linux users having tried at least two different distributions). Linux fanboys do exist, but somewhat disapproved by the community as they are viewed to be detrimental to the spread of Linux. Users usually have one goal in mind: spread Linux and help new users adopt to the Linux way of doing things.

Considering the statements above, the following can be said of the community (in general) of each of the operating systems:

Unless you are a programmer or a developer, Windows users have very (if at all) knowledge of the inner workings of their operating systems (consequently, their computers), because of Microsoft’s emphasis that everything should be done via GUI.

Mac users, on the other hand, can be said of as enjoying a level higher than Windows users, as everything should be done the Mac way.

Linux users can be said of as the very smart ones, as they are exposed to how their computer works and are encourage to tinker with it and modify it to their needs (and if possible, write programs for it and share it to the community). This is further established by the legacy statement that “Linux is for geeks.” (But then, I say to you, once you got used to the Linux way of doing things, you will miss those things when you are in a Windows box (maybe not in a Mac box, because basically they are relatives, both being *nix derivatives)).

Therefore, to the general conclusion: Windows is for idiots.

(feel free to comment. don’t worry, I won’t DDoS you.)

Multiply Comments:

vimzkey wrote on Feb 14
Nice rant! Hahaha

dragoonxryu wrote on Feb 10
I think that what you said is just plain harsh.
[quote] Windows world: Having the largest community, users tend not to be that close to each other. Users usually only want that things work, and therefore are afraid (or not that inclined to) to tinker with their boxes. Users are expected to contact tech support if something goes wrong. [/quote]
I think that the hasty generalization is rather uncalled for as this statement was already enough. From the statement itself, you can draw out that a majority of Windows users simply want things to work because probably, they don’t have the interest to tinker with their boxes. This doesn’t mean that they are idiots. True, they may not know the inner workings of their computers but defaulting them to being idiots does not really follow the argument. What disgusts me though is when these people start complaining about computers lashing out “facts” like they know everything about it. That’s when we call them idiots. (I work in a helpdesk position under a university, btw)
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