My Turn

Macs Follow the Microsoft Way

Tim Baxter

My Turn is Low End Mac's column for reader-submitted articles. It's your turn to share your thoughts on all things Mac (or iPhone, iPod, etc.) and write for the Mac web. Email your submission to Dan Knight .

There was a time not all that long ago - at least in people years - when a Mac did just about everything it's own way. And the Mac way was arguably the best way.

Mac owners didn't have hundreds of obscure and indecipherable files wandering around their hard drive that could only be deleted at extreme risk. Mac owners rarely, if ever, worried about drivers, unless they were upgrading their machine. Hardware and software worked together seamlessly. We knew what everything on the machine belonged to, what it did, and why it was where it was. We knew we could move all that stuff around more or less willy-nilly, and nothing would really go wrong.

I miss those days.

Without even getting into OS X and it's arcane file structure, libraries, and suffixes, Macness has withered away over the years. Maybe we really did need to worry about at least one virus all along - the PC-ification virus. We've been Windows-ized, and we barely even noticed.

It would be really easy to paint Microsoft as the villain, especially since every MS application installer dumps a whole new hodgepodge of bizarre extensions in the System Folder and never cleans out the older version. Our aliases now have silly arrows on them now for no better reason than that's how Windows does it. We have, over the years, become as much like them as they have become like us.

But really, Apple carries nearly as much blame for the breakdown in the Mac's vaunted elegance, simplicity, and ease of use. Somewhere along the line they seemed to become more interested in elegant external solutions than internal. iTunes installs dozens of extensions for USB and FireWire devices, even on Macs without FireWire or USB. I think in another time Apple would have had the installer check before installing those extensions.

And now we have files like Apple Enet DLPI Support and QD3D HW Driver wandering 'round the old System Folder. I know, more or less, what those extensions do. That's not the point - they're named for geeks. Computer guys. Folks who like murking about in the inner workings of the operating system.

They're not named for, nor are they intended to be touched by, "the rest of us."

Tim Baxter has been a reporter, graphic artist, webmaster and Mac fan since 1993.

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