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I really don't mind PC users who don't like Macs. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion about things, no matter how strange they may be. What really bugs me are PC users who don't appreciate the Mac for what it is.

These are usually people who say Macs suck simply because they don't know what they're talking about. Ignorance can be easily cured. Ignorance with stubborn opinion is a nuisance. It would be much easier to converse with someone who thinks that Macs suck, but still realizes that they are powerful, innovative, and easy to use. At least then you know you're dealing with pure opinion and not a victim of hearsay and ignorance.

The same goes for Mac users too. It's fun and easy to hate PC's when using a Mac because there's really no comparison. Mac users need to be careful what they are criticizing though. Would we have nearly the amount of cool games if it weren't for the competition from PC's to produce hot games? Would Apple have ever pushed for the PowerPC architecture without the threat of Intel?

Ignorance from Mac users often comes in the form of criticism of Microsoft. We are really quite lucky that they are so vunerable, because lambasting the Redmond Empire is easy and fun. Herein lies the ignorance of the Mac user. The simple truth is that the Mac might not be around today were it not for Bill Gates.

If you have not yet ordered your free copy of The 1997 Apple MacAdvocate CD-ROM, you should. Every Mac user should have one. On it is a video clip of Bill Gates from around the time of the Macintosh introduction in 1984. On it he says: "To create a new standard it takes something that is not just a little bit different, it takes something that is really new and really captures people's imagination; and the Macintosh, of all the machines I've ever seen, is the only one that meets that standard."

At this time Microsoft was much more micro-sized than it is now. Bill was a simple software developer with DOS on his side. In many ways he was taking a chance on the Macintosh by devoting resources to developing software for this promising but unproven platform. It's obvious from his words that he was impressed with the Mac; so impressed that he sought to imitate it.

The rest is history.

What isn't history is Microsoft's continued support for the Macintosh. In many ways the Macintosh still owes its existence to Microsoft. Imagine what would happen if suddenly Bill announced that Microsoft would no longer support the Mac. The loss of support of the worlds largest software developer would certainly cause other developers to question the platform. The anti-Macintosh nay sayers would have an incredible amount of ammunition, and a good point from which to fire.

Luckily the opposite has happened. Microsoft recently announced a separate Macintosh development division to write Mac software "from scratch" instead of porting Windows applications. Microsoft Office is a key application in this announcement. For many business office Mac users, MS Office's cross platform compatibility is the only way they are able to keep their Macs.

How does this make you feel? Are you pro-Mac to the point where anything Microsoft is evil, or are you able to accept Microsoft's Mac effort?

It seems that Internet Explorer, Microsoft's internet browser, is a good barometer of one's acceptance or refusal of Microsoft. I was very anti-Explorer at first due simply to principle. Then I tried Explorer. It bothered me that it was so good. I learned that Microsoft had organized an Internet Explorer team exclusively for the Mac version, and that made it harder to resist. The final nail was when I learned that Microsoft had hired several ex-Claris employees to work on the IE Mac team. No wonder it's so good!

IE is one of Microsoft's shining Mac products; there are plenty that inspire suspicions of a conspiracy though. MS Office 4.2 crashes many Macs so frequently that they become almost useless. Others run it flawlessly. MS Flight Simulator for Mac is still in primitive form while the PC version has advanced nicely. Several key business applications are still not available for the Mac despite MS Office. Encarta and Bookshelf use much of the Windows95 interface despite being Mac programs. What do these things mean?

In reality, the Mac will sink or swim based on it's own merits, not on Microsoft's actions. Support from Microsoft certainly helps the Mac platform more than most of us would like to admit. You are the decision maker in the long run. How do feel about Microsoft as a Mac user? Do you like the idea of Mac apps built from the ground up for PowerMacs? Will nothing quench your hatred for the enemy? Do you think of Microsoft as the enemy?

Gil Amelio seems to think Microsoft is a key partner in the Macintosh. What do you think?

- Omar Oddfellow