Last week, I reported that I'd lost my iPhone on a train. Because it is impossible to actually do any meaningful work without a phone, I found I was forced to resort to my old Windows Mobile device, and just assumed that I'd make do for a while.
Now this was a quite late-model, latest version of operating system, all singing, all dancing handset.
And it was appalling.
The problem, you see, is that you get so used to the intuitive design centricity of iPhone that using anything else reminds you of going back to the dark ages. By no means am I an Apple fan-boy, by the way. That iPhone was the only Apple thing I own.
But losing it, and being forced to go back to what I thought was the ultimate mobile device makes me see just how programmed my thinking had been about Microsoft. Once you get into a habit, you just don't see the flaws in what you're doing. For example, I really noticed the fact that at least 25% of calls just aren't even received on Windows Mobile. It fails to notice, apparently, that someone is ringing. Before, I accepted that. Now, I can't tolerate it under any circumstances.
So I've gone out and bought a new iPhone, one of those 3GS versions. It is an incremental improvement on the old version, but I don't care. I'm back.
Here is the experience: get new phone. Plug it into iTunes. iTunes notices it is new hardware and asks me if I want to restore everything to the way it was on the old phone. I say yes, and voila, the phone is exactly the way it was before I lost it.
Emboldened by this experience, I then decided that I'd really better just try out OS X, the Macintosh operating system as well. Those who've been reading here for a while know that I spent some time experimenting with various flavours of Linux, and waxed lyrical about the performance and stability of those systems. In the end, though I was forced back to Microsoft because I had to use some remote connection software I just couldn't get to work on Linux.
Anyway, so I loaded the Mac OX X on a netbook (yes, I made a Hackintosh), and oh-my-god. Intuitive design centricity again. It just feels like its been designed with the user in mind. It makes you want to load apps and exit them just to play with the little dock thing. I love the way the little icons bounce up and down to let you know that something needs attention, rather than the approach in Windows which is to steal the focus away and throw a dialogue box in my face. Of course there are no freezes, or crashes, or anything else like that either. Bliss.
Now these experiences have taught me something.
Apple designs things to be polite. Like asking me if it might help me bring my phone back to life.
Microsoft engineers things to be rude. Like phone that can't be bothered to answer calls, or dialogs that demand my attention right now.
I'm sitting here writing this on my work XP machine, and wishing I had my netbook instead. It has about 25% of the power, mind you, but runs at least twice as fast. Let me have snappy over laggy any day. XP reminds me of that surly waiter in a restaurant who strolls over the second before you get up and leave. Engineered rudeness again.
Is it possible that Microsoft don't get this? Or perhaps their engineers and designers are too arrogant to think it matters. Either way, the comparison between the experience on Apple compared to Microsoft is extremely unfavourable to the latter.
Oh, ok, I'll admit it. The whole iPhone loss thing has made me an Apple FanBoy. Not one of those tragic ones that queue up to hear a Steve speech or waits outside an Apple store to be the first to get the new iPhone. But I am eyeing off a new MacBook Air. I will keep it in my briefcase next to my klunkarama XP machine and use it for everything possible from now on.
PS: To those Microsofties who will no doubt rush to regale me with stories of the miracle of Windows 7, I make this commitment: I will try it, when you release it, and evaluate with my recently opened mind. I might do so first inside a virtual machine on my MacBook Air, but I will give it a good go at least.