It's that old chestnut that rears it's ugly head now and again, but usually with some alarming regularity. What am I talking about, well my apparent bias towards Microsoft of course and my hatred of Apple. At least that's what the nay-sayers would have you believe. I always thought it would be entertaining one day to write and article called "Apple" containing just that same single word to see what reaction it got, but I can guess.
It's fantastic the excitement and enthusiasm that Apple fan-boys (though I find that term rather derogatory myself) have for the company and their products. It's this enthusiasm and the good word spread by them that has propelled Apple to the top of the tree, if you'll excuse the pun, and made it one of the richest and most successful tech companies in the world.
Apple is not without its problems but it does seem to handle them well. The biggest concern the company has is with manufacturing. This is largely done in China where it's been revealed in the last couple of years some workers who make iPhones and iPads are extremely badly treated, very poorly paid and that there have been in the case of one factory a large spate of suicides. Unlike other companies who have been accused of using "sweat-shops" in the past like Nike, every revelation about Apple has come from the company's own internal investigations, and they've been very open and honest and taken immediate steps to make things right.
Microsoft don't make very many actual products at all but the company isn't as forthcoming about the conditions in the factories where the Xbox, Kinect and it's keyboards and mice are produced. This isn't to say there aren't any problems, no mass manufacturing system is trouble-free. It's just that Microsoft aren't as forthcoming about them.
This is reflected in the CEOs of both companies and their senior management teams approach to consumers and the press. Steve Jobs is outspoken and occasionally gets himself into hot water over things like the time he allegedly told an iPhone 4 user, who was having signal problems "not to hold it that way then". Steve Ballmer and the other Microsoft execs like to stay quiet about most things and rarely respond to user complaints themselves. Apple is a far more open company and Microsoft is far more traditional in this regard.
So where does this leave myself and my own bias, because some of the readers here have obviously decided that I have it. I was accused by one reader of it again only yesterday because I'm an MVP. Well I don't own any Apple products, but there's good reasons for this, and I'll always freely admit I'm not a fan of Apple's way of doing things. In this I mean that, for example, if you buy an Android, Symbian, WebOS or Windows Phone smartphone handset you can switch it on and be making calls in a few minutes. If you buy an iPhone it's rather different as you first have to have the iTunes software installed on a computer (PC or Mac) and create an iTunes account to activate it.
This has caused all manner of problems for some people who either don't have a computer, or in the case of one story I heard an older, unsupported version of Mac OS. It also clearly demonstrates that Apple want to make money from you by selling you things through the iTunes store.
This problem extends to all of Apple's products including the iPod and from a purely business-perspective it's completely understandable. But is it right? Well, it's not right for me and those two words here are incredibly important as it's obviously quite right for millions of other people.
So I've now admitted I don't own any Apple products and I don't like the iTunes tie-in so as a Microsoft MVP I MUST be biased... yes!? Well no. Being awarded an MVP, which is great, doesn't mean I work for Microsoft or have any allegiance to them. MVPs who talk positively about Microsoft are merely evangelizing about the company in the same way that the fan-boys evangelize about Apple. I will evangelize about some stuff, as and when I feel Microsoft have done something great, but only up to a point. The rest of the time I'm happy to be as critical of the company as anyone else.
I talked a little while ago about there being good reasons for not owning any Apple products. I am in the market to buy a Mac Mini. I want one for testing purposes for work but it would only get occasional use, I'd have to re-buy all my software if I was going to switch to a Mac at significant expense, and the cost of the Mac Mini itself is just too high to justify... for me.
And it's these two words that it always comes down to. Each and every one of us has our own preferences and we will desire one type of thing over another or one company over another. I do own several PCs, a Windows 7 tablet and a Windows Phone. For what I use them for they're the best option for me, including the choice of a Windows Media Centre system under my TV instead of an Apple TV because the latter doesn't include a TV tuner. I also have this kit because it will all work seamlessly and happily together.
So where does this leave bias? Well I'll always say that there isn't any. For as much as I'm happy to criticize Microsoft when they do something stupid (which is quite a lot), I'm equally happy to praise Apple when they do something great (again!) If you want to you can keep claiming that I'm biased because I'm an MVP and have written two books about Windows, but that isn't going to make it true. The truth is out there, as Fox Mulder famously said. But just like an X-File the mystery is why the fan-boys feel the need to fight their corner so venomously when Apple are clearly winning.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.