Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Broken Windows, What a Pane

I've been suffering from some Windows problems lately.  

It was about this time last year that we got our Mac Mini.  We got it to replace a Windows Vista Ultimate Edition media center and it's been a significant upgrade.  For the purpose we use if for it is extremely more suitable than it's predecessor.  The Mac Mini has been a very well behaved computer, perhaps the most well behaved computer I have ever owned.  It sits in the lounge room with EyeTV and works as an Internet connected media center.  Since we've had it I've upgraded OS X from 10.4 Tiger to 10.5 Leopard, installed and uninstalled countless apps and small games, as well as played Guild Wars on it using CrossOver Games.  We've had about three or four crashes on it in the time we've owned it - all of which recovered with a reboot, but I've never had to reinstall the OS.

My Windows rig is a different story.  In the last year I've had to reinstall Windows three times because the computer wouldn't start at all.  Each reinstall requires hundreds of megabytes of security updates and service packs to be downloaded.  I've had the computer slow to a crawl and require a reboot to become usable again countless times.  I've had blue screens and random reboots.  Even though in my humble opinion Windows XP is far superior to Windows Vista, neither of them come close to the stability and usability I find on the Mac.

Then there's the hardware.  For one to own a high end PC one must have sufficiant cooling in the system.  The vast majority of PC's have fans that circulate air through the case to keep the components cool.  If one of these fail you can risk overheating your computer which can lead to irrepairable damage.  I had a chipset fan fail - it is supposed to cool one of the major pieces of silicone on the motherboard.  The fan that I got to replace it ran at a very high speed and so generated quite a bit of noise.  I could hear it's hum from accross the room with no problem, but I got used to it.   Like most background noises, after a while you don't hear it anymore.  This fan failed too after about six months but this time the failure of a $15 fan caused damage that required me to replace a $300 motherboard.  And of course the replacement motherboards available after a year wouldn't take my old chip and RAM so I needed to replace those too.  So much for an upgradable open system.  Add to this three - count 'em - three hard drive failures resulting in data loss and more downtime.  The two faulty sticks of RAM (expensive Corsair XMS gear no less) that wouldn't allow the computer to boot at all also deserves dishonerable mention.

I can see how Apple's computers are very quickly increasing their market share.  They have become competitive.  Not by making their products cheaper than the competition (although prices have dropped accross the Mac line a lot over the past few years), but by making them better.  The superior OS and wealth of really useful and fun bundled software certainly help as well.

Still, many of my friends are gamers.  PC gamers.  And although Apple build great computers, they still have quite a way to go to get the gamers on board.  Perhaps this new line of aluminium MacBooks with nVidia chipsets that has been completely sold out accross the world since it's release will help to fix the games problem.  Having a lot of computers with the hardware capable of playing games has got to be an incentive to write games for that platform.

We'll see.

Regardless.  I have written this post immediatly after having to do a repair on the Windows system because the computer wouldn't get past the loading screen.  Windows really does suck.  I can't wait to be rid of it.


davemart30 said...

I too suffer the same problems, but have started using acronis true image to backup the systems. And it worked. I tried to do an SP1 vista upgrade which failed. Booted up on the acronis cd, 40 minutes later it restored the partition backup, up and running again.

JonDgar said...

I might just blog about this comment.