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I'm no fan of Ballmer, but I think "insulting OEMs" is one of the good things he did. The OEMs carry a great deal of blame for the collapse of Windows. While Apple was shipping beautiful metal enclosures with great convenient features like MagSafe and magnetic latches, OEMs like Dell were shitting all over the Windows brand with plasticky (and still expensive!), heavy, unreliable, loud-as-shit laptops with terrible screens.

The same thing happened with WinPhone. MSFT spent a lot of time developing an honestly pretty decent OS, only to have its launch lineup filled with unimaginative, plasticky bullshit phones from Samsung and LG.

I for one think Microsoft's messy divorce from OEMs is a great thing, my only disappointment was that they didn't throw the OEMs under the bus at supersonic speed.




>but I think "insulting OEMs" is one of the good things he did.

Agree with this statement. OEMs is also the one of the reasons why Android gets a bad rep. Android doesn't suck, it just gets thrown into incompatible and low spec'd devices and when the lag starts rolling in, people blame the OS. I guess this is one of those unavoidable quirks of being an OS vendor and having no say in the hardware. Atleast in Microsofts case, if they wanted, they could get restrict their OS from being installed on an under spec'd device but would Google be able to do the same, especially in light of Android's openness?


Google can't prevent an OEM from installing Android on a crappy device, but they could refuse to pass it in the CTS, which would mean they couldn't include Google Play, Gmail, etc.


not to mention loading up the OS with a ton of crapware and free trials.


This is honestly the worst of it IMO. Apple does have better hardware, yes, but the difference in speed out of the box is stunning when bloatware is involved. Microsoft didn't have a chance to keep up with OSX.


Apple does have better hardware, yes, but the difference in speed out of the box is stunning when bloatware is involved

Aside from the odd "Apple has better hardware" bit (they use the same binned devices that other OEMs like Dell do, so not sure where that comes from), you've benchmarked this purported speed difference?

Because most of the crapware that companies like Dell, HP, and others put on, while irritating, consumes exactly 0% of processor or I/O time, and has zero impact on performance of the device, beyond the hysterical, easily-convinced responses of the placebo effect. The vast majority is nothing more than trials. It's irritating, and wastes users time if you want to clean up your desktop and app lists, but the commonly stated impact is just not at all supported.

And then there's the issue of what exactly is crapware and what isn't. Buy a pure Windows device and you'll be pestered endlessly for Skydrive, Hotmail, Bing, photo backups, Xbox coupling, active your Office trial, etc (just as if you buy an xbox 360 and then pay for the privilege of using it online, in return you get ads and sponsored placements on your dashboard).

Apple is predominately a hardware vendor that has made enormous bank on that (pivoting their MP3 player market into a smartphone market into a tablet market into a bonafide desktop market). Microsoft is predominately a software vendor.

Everyone told Microsoft that they should mirror Apple: it got them a billion dollar+ write down so far, and offended all of their prior allies to start grouping behind alternatives. This "Microsoft should be like Apple" plan isn't really paying dividends.


> Aside from the odd "Apple has better hardware" bit (they use the same binned devices that other OEMs like Dell do, so not sure where that comes from)

Apple pushed IPS screens when PC OEMs were happy with the lowest quality TFT panels available. For years Apple insisted on having a proper GPU in their machines, until Intel finally was able to offer a competitive IGP. And finally Apple also moved forward with SSDs early on.

Add on top of that, Apple's laptops look good. Asus is one of the few PC OEMs making laptops that are even within striking distance of Apple, but their distribution and advertising is abysmal. Asus's best ultrabook was exclusively available from Amazon for the longest time! And then their model numbers are so confusing I knew what I wanted to buy but I couldn't figure out exactly what magic combination of model numbers equated to the machine that I desired.

Every PC Laptop out there has "something" missing from it. Then there is the terrible buying experience, pretty much the only sane way to buy a Dell or an HP machine is to find a magic sales link that takes you to the site which will now show you the real price of the laptop, rather than the rather insane price that is shown by default.

> Buy a pure Windows device and you'll be pestered endlessly for Skydrive, Hotmail, Bing, photo backups

Really? Pestered? I signed into my MS account and my Skydrive files are synced down, but aside from that, I've had no other notifications or requests on either of my Win8 machines. Granted these are both raw Win8 installs.


>For years Apple insisted on having a proper GPU in their machines, until Intel finally was able to offer a competitive IGP.

Even stayed one CPU generation back in order to do so.


Apple pushed IPS screens when PC OEMs were happy with the lowest quality TFT panels available. For years Apple insisted on having a proper GPU in their machines, until Intel finally was able to offer a competitive IGP. And finally Apple also moved forward with SSDs early on.

There have always been a diversity of options available in the PC market, and those who wanted to pay the premium for an IPS screen (you know, Apple still sells devices with TN screens...), GPU, or SSD could. Picking the lowest priced PC and pointing and jeering "see!!???" is not a useful tactic, just as someone can't point at the Macbook Pro and jeer at the price without equalizing hardware.


Apple's willingness to invest in making higher resolution panels and better screens the standard helped bring down prices for everyone else to be able to get the same level of quality.

On the phone side, for several years, the iPhone had the BEST possible screen available on any phone because they invested in the panel and locked up the supply (since they paid for it) while other phone makers were content with lower resolution screens.


"Content with lower resolution" screens, when almost all of them dramatically led Apple at the time of their retina unveiling. Add that companies like LG, Sony, and Samsung actually make the screen (and rest assured, Apple is not stopping any of those companies from doing what they want with their own lines).

This is the mythology of Apple that is so bizarre. Apple overshot competitors not because Apple has such a dedication to technology excellence (I mean, at the time their offerings were dramatically behind all competitors), but because the simplicity of the SDK meant that they had to simply double existing resolutions.

It's going to be interesting to see what Apple does with the market-lagging iPad Mini on the refresh -- double each dimension resolution, yielding a hilariously excessive pixel density purely to maintain the wrong-headed SDK?


> "Content with lower resolution" screens, when almost all of them dramatically led Apple at the time of their retina unveiling

I call bullshit, that's not how I remember it at all.

The iPhone 4 was released in June 2010 at 960x640. The Samsung Galaxy S2 wasn't available until 11 months later - May 2011, at 800x480. The Motorola Droid X was also available May 2011, at 960x540, along with the HTC Sensation, with the same resolution.

This is the mythology of anti-Apple postings that is so bizarre. They just know that Apple is always technologically inferior.

By 2012, the Android competition has gotten better than Apple in resolution... but only because Apple made resolution important.


The original Galaxy S had the same resolution as S2 - 800x480. It was available in June 2010.

But it was also not the first. The Nexus One/HTC Desire had also 800x480 resolution - 6 months before iPhone 4. Also, the original Motorola Droid - available since November 2009 - had 854x480 resolution.


Sorry corresation, I should have been more specific that I wasn't referring to the current "Retina" era of screens since yes, all of the competitors (especially Samsung who makes the panels) have the same thing or are doing better.

I'm talking about when the first iPhone came out (2007?) and you couldn't find a multi-touch capacitive touch screen in any mass market device that was able to match the precision and responsiveness of what Apple delivered in v1 of their mobile phone. It was not for a few years that competitive devices came out with a screen that had the same level of responsiveness.


> and those who wanted to pay the premium for an IPS screen (you know, Apple still sells devices with TN screens...), GPU, or SSD could.

In the laptop arena? Not so much.

When buying my last laptop (~2 years ago) I wanted a 14" laptop, 1080p IPS screen, and a quality dedicated GPU.

I was out of luck, NO ONE made a machine like that. I could get any of those two, but not all three. I ended up with a 14" 1080 TFT and a GPU.

A few laptop manufacturers have started pushing the boundaries of quality, but it is by no means universal. Even today getting a well build (e.g. not Clevo) 14" machine with a GPU and a good screen isn't easy, you have a couple of options to choose from.

Suffice to say for my laptop purchase I bought my own SSD and installed it myself, much more powerful and lower cost than anything the OEM was offering at the time.


"Because most of the crapware that companies like Dell, HP, and others put on, while irritating, consumes exactly 0% of processor or I/O time, and has zero impact on performance of the device, beyond the hysterical, easily-convinced responses of the placebo effect"

100% wrong

1 - Startup time is affected by all the bloat

2 - Trial for slow/crappy AV, affects IO and CPU usage (more than other anti-virus)

3 - OEM "tools" that make it "easier" to use the computer, consuming a non trivial amount of CPU to check for updates, show several tray icons because of course you need a special utility to switch from builtin screen to external monitor even though the builtin one works better and by the way do you want to sign up to our special partner offers?


So....no benchmarks then. Convincing.


At this point, it's you who's looking like an idiot, unless you really never used a computer with an OEM install of Windows.

I suggest you smash a finger with a hammer, when I did that it hurt but of course it's only anecdotal evidence


Would you like to see my Tiger Deterrence Rock?

I have used countless installs of Windows, through MSDN, retail, Technet, and through vendors like Dell. I happen to avoid being a suggestible simpleton so I don't simply adopt the sophistry that is so common. Sorry if this offends you into hilarious insults.


No, what I'm saying is that if you claim "consumes exactly 0% of processor or I/O time,", (I repeat: exactly 0%) you don't know how computers work.

It's not a matter of benchmark, it's about computing 101.


Just exactly how imaginative can you be designing a phone's external appearance? It's just plastic (or metal in some cases) around a screen in a somewhat rectangular shape. Hard to get that wrong. What do you mean plasticky? Is plastic a bad thing? The lower density makes the phone take less damage when dropped.


OEMs like Dell were shitting all over the Windows brand with plasticky (and still expensive!), heavy, unreliable, loud-as-shit laptops with terrible screens.

This is utter nonsense. There simply is no other way to put it.

There have always been premium Windows machines (Sony was doing the extremely-thin, fits in an envelope, made-with-unobtanium laptop thing years before Apple did), and discount machines. Focus-on-aesthetics machines, and ugly but functional machines.

That is how a diverse ecosystems work, and the consumer gets to choose what they want, and what matches their priorities (the fact that you have some sort of hipsterism dislike of "plasticy" should not restrict my purchase when I see it as simply a material that is often optimal. I don't have a fetish for materials).


Even the $3000+ laptops from Sony or other oems were littered with crapware. When consumers shifted from desktops to mobile all of the hardware innovation was moved to the oems' suppliers, which led them to drop all of their technical talent. Now the likes of dell and hp are full of mbas whose job is to make deals with companies like McAfee to squeeze an extra penny out of each sale and to annoy clueless consumers who buy that shit.


>Even the $3000+ laptops from Sony or other oems were littered with crapware.

Not 100% true. I remember buying a $2000 Vaio Z a couple years ago that had the option of getting a clean windows install (for $50 more)


And you get a Windows edition upgrade too, all for only $50.


My Sharp MM10 wasn't.


My most recent purchase was a Dell laptop with a 3rd gen i7, 16GB RAM, eMMC accelerated TB magnetic disc, IPS 1080p screen, fingerprint reader, backlit keyboard, blah blah. Weight and battery life fit my usage.

I believe it was somewhere around $800, and is a perfect device for my needs. Spent a few minutes after booting removing the various trials of junk on it.

Colour me clueless, I guess.


For me, i7 2650QM, 8 GB of RAM, 500 GB hard drive, 17.3" monitor, fingerprint reader, 9 cell battery.

$550. People who buy Macs can't even conceive that you can buy 4 PC notebooks for the price they are buying 1 Mac notebook. They can't conceive that the typical person doesn't buy overpriced Ultrabooks that are different only in marketing name.

All they will say is that their computer "holds its resale value" or that it will "last longer". When it is literally 4x more expensive for equivalent speed, these things are meaningless.


Gross oversimplification of the "Mac" consumer. I use Macs and PCs every day and have worked in the computer hardware business with a specific focus on gaming (Newegg) and it's not that people who buy Macs don't realize they're paying a premium, it's that they value more than "equivalent" speed.

When I have a notebook, I don't want it to weight 10lbs because I'll be walking around with it. What's the point in having a fast notebook when you dread taking it around with you? I also appreciate the design aesthetic and the "it just works" feeling I get when I use OS X. The battery life is great, the laptop is portable, the design is beautiful, I get the job done. That's why I use my Mac notebook and that's what I'm paying for.


I know that I could have purchased 4+ Windows laptops for the price of my MacBook. I know that they would have been faster and have more ports and "features". In fact, I used to hold the same opinion as you do and went through 5 windows laptops before I switched to macs. Then I realized all of those specs are complete bullshit when you have to clear your machine of malware when you buy it, it weighs 10lbs, the hinges break after a year of use, and it's as thick as 4 windows laptops (I kid, sort of...) and the keyboard feels like shit (except my thinkpad, that keyboard was awesome), and anytime you have to reinstall Windows you have to spend time installing drivers for the webcam and fingerprint sensor and all of those awesome features.

Once I switched to mac I began to focus more on the work I do, and less on the machine I use to do it. Plus, I sold my 3 year old MacBook Air for ~70% of it's value, whereas my brother was barely able to sell his 2 year old xps 15z (which is NOT a cheap laptop) for ~40% of it's value.

Another thing I have noticed is that many Windows laptops have their own strengths, ThinkPads have great keyboards and are indestructible but are pretty thick, not very stylish, and still quite expensive. The Asus Zenbook has great build quality and looks very stylish, but is also expensive, has a finicky trackpad, not the best keyboard, and still has some bullshit software that comes preinstalled (although it is better than most Windows machines in this regard). That's what I love about my MacBook, sure it's expensive, but it has amazing build quality, it's plenty fast for 99% of my needs, has an amazing screen, no malware when you buy it, the best trackpad in the industry, keyboard is as good as the ThinkPad (in some ways better, in some worse), the warranty is unmatchable, and the resale value is also the best in the industry. These are the things that matter to me now.


Some people don't see computers as fungible computing commodities priced in $/GHz and $/GB.

Much like they don't see cars as fungible transportation commodities priced in $/Watt and $/N·m.


aka "Some people just have more style." What would we do without our shiny status symbols?


We'd start by pointing out that your superior cynicism is also a status symbol/signal.

http://lesswrong.com/lw/ym/cynical_about_cynicism/


You got me. My elitist comment was much much worse than another elitist comment.


It's because they use different criteria than you do to judge the machine, and that's fine.


No, they can. They just don't care.

Windows laptops are packed full of hardware and software crap that nobody really wants. Fingerprint readers are unsafe toys. 17 inch monitors make it impossible to use comfortably on your lap. Doesn't matter how many cells are in your battery, it won't outlast mine because Windows drinks juice like a sailor.

I don't care how much more money I'm paying for my MacBook over a comparably specced PC. There's just no comparison. Software, hardware, support. I took my laptop to the Apple Store three times last year, got a quick turnaround and paid nothing for the repairs. I did not have to go through a phone maze or argue with anybody.

People who buy PCs just don't understand quality. Only price.


> Windows laptops are packed full of hardware and software crap that nobody really wants. Fingerprint readers are unsafe toys. 17 inch monitors make it impossible to use comfortably on your lap. Doesn't matter how many cells are in your battery, it won't outlast mine because Windows drinks juice like a sailor.

You're making a logical fallacy: "I don't want this feature, therefore nobody wants this feature."

I just helped a friend pick out a new laptop. He insisted on a 17-inch screen. This was his single absolute must-have. No 17-inch screen? No purchase. Any other spec was negotiable. The screen was an absolute must-have. Even a 15.6-inch screen was too small for him.

Weight? He didn't care. Battery life? He didn't care. It had to have a 17-inch screen. He didn't want to use it on his lap. He wanted a desktop replacement that he'd keep plugged in all the time -- with the option of picking it up and moving it to another desk.

> People who buy PCs just don't understand quality. Only price.

He didn't care about price. He was willing to spend $1500, $2000, whatever it took to get a 17-inch laptop. Except, of course, that Apple cancelled the 17-inch MacBook Pro -- the one feature that might've won his purchase.


I can't believe you actually took me seriously when I stated that "nobody really wants" certain features. Obviously there are outliers with strange needs like your friend's. He should count himself lucky that he's able to find any machine that fits his requirements for any price.

That's the nature of the new economy we live in. If it's not profitable, if millions of people don't want it, it's relegated to the back-channels and specialty web dealers. Companies just can't afford to release anything anymore without excellent product-market fit.

It used to be you could get Dell to build you anything you damned well pleased. I just went to the Dell website, and you can't even look at their laptops until you identify as a member of an organization. They don't sell to consumers anymore. You have to go to Best Buy.

If you want to know who's responsible for this shitty state of affairs, walk over to a mirror and take a good long look in it. Silly, unrealistic, demanding consumers who don't understand quality, only price, are turning the entire industry into shitty versions of Apple.

So I'm sorry, I have zero patience for asshole customers who think they're always right. It's good that your friend was willing to pay whatever it took to get his 17 inch screen. Most of these idiots don't. And they ruined PCs.


I just went to the Dell website, and you can't even look at their laptops until you identify as a member of an organization. They don't sell to consumers anymore. You have to go to Best Buy.

Ridiculous claim. Visit http://www.dell.com, click on "For Home" on the menu at the top, then in the menu click "laptops & ultrabooks".

That puts you on a page showing consumer laptops you can buy, right there, two clicks from the homepage. Or you can search/filter on ten different fields (including 17" screen size which finds a choice of 34 laptops).


This argument drives me crazy! The CPU speed is probably one of the least important things to me, basically any laptop sold today is fast enough. What I care about is weight, build quality and battery life.

The macbook air weighs ~1kg, has a 12 hour battery life, and has a nice aluminium body. Last time I looked, not only is it impossible to get a PC laptop like that for a comparable price, it is impossible to buy such a laptop from any PC manufacturer for any price.


I didn't pay 4x, I payed (almost) 2x more, for the bottom end Macbook Pro

Best money I ever spend

Today, unless you're doing heavy processing stuff, CPU speed DOES NOT MATTER. Memory does. I was perfectly happy with the CPU speed of the notebook I had before, the problem of course was memory size.

(I wouldn't buy a 17' notebook, you'll pay the price on back problems)

I can't stand using Windows and the Linux distributions nowadays take much of my time with BS like Gnome 3 and other bloated crap.

So, Mac OS.


Why do you care what other people use, if it's not preventing you access to your preferred tools?

We're not talking about a 100x price multiplier here, where clearly one's into the land of diminishing returns.

This kind of self-righteousness is just as faddish / cliquish as excessive fan-boy-ism.


The only laptop I could find that matched the specs you mentioned is the XPS 15 which is a $2K machine:

http://www.dell.com/us/p/laptops?~ck=mn#!everyday-laptops&fa...


The first thing I did with my HP Laptop is a destructive recovery and the junk was gone.


So why would Intel dump hundreds of millions pushing the ultrabook, if the OEMs were creating the right devices already?


Without wanting to agree or disagree with the parent discussion, one very plausible answer is simply that they had hundreds of millions and felt an obligation to invest it in support of their market ecosystem.




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