Microsoft Windows and the Reality Distortion Field

, posted: 25-Mar-2008 14:06

Last night I was surfing the net, looking for information on Comparing the Blackberry 8700 and Nokia E61. I came across a useful post on Feasible Impossibilities a blog devoted mainly to Adobe flash related news. Then I looked at his other posts, and he mentioned Steve Job's Reality Distortion Field in an article about the iphone and its lack of support for Flash.

According to a Wikipedia entry, the Reality Distortion Field (RDF) is,

In essence, RDF is the idea that Steve Jobs is able to convince people to believe almost anything with a
mix of charm, charisma, bluster, exaggeration, and marketing. RDF is said to distort an audience's sense
of proportion or scale. Small advances are applauded as breakthroughs. Interesting developments become turning points, or huge leaps forward. RDF focuses less on outright deception and more on warping the powers of judgment. The term "audience" may refer to an individual whose attitudes Steve is intending to affect.

My cousin, Craig Nakamoto, has been a mac user for many years and, I presume, a fan of Mr Jobs. I sent him the link to the Wikipedia article. His response startled me:

Wow, I didn't know the effect was so well documented. And there is a grain of truth in it, especially if you watch the stock market. The media is especially susceptible - and hence the masses.

I find it amusing though, that the term and definition would be better applied to the effect that marketing and market share has had on the personal computer operating system world.

If ever there was a massive reality distortion field, then it would be surrounding the Microsoft Windows Operating System.

It may hold true, that for a brief time, Microsoft did have what could be described as the best pc operating system of the time (this would be at the end of Macintosh OS v9, when Windows NT was maturing in the late 90's. NT was actually a pretty solid operating system. Hardware drivers were a terrible mess, but apart from that, it had a lot going for it. At this time Apple was working on OS X, and with its release in 2001, Windows fell far, far behind. Windows Vista widened the gap even further (putting Mac ahead).

Now don't get me wrong, if you know what you are doing, Windows XP SP-2 is a pretty good operating system. It is plagued with security problems, but apart from that, it has some very nice features. Still, there could be no doubt in anyone's mind that Mac OS X is vastly superior because it is cheaper, easier to use, more stable, more efficient, more standard's based, and it looks a hell of a lot better (not that this should matter and is probably related to the original reality distortion field). Vista is expensive, confusing (how many versions? mac os x comes in one version), painful (warnings anyone), bloated, and annoying.

One might argue that Mac OS X sucks because it only runs on a Mac. This may have once been a good point, when superior PC hardware was available (a long time ago). But not now. Now if you compare the Apple computer models with similar spec'ed windows or other devices, you will see that the price difference is almost negligible, and in fact it has been proven that in most cases the Apple option is more cost effective.

So why is Windows so popular? Enter the reality distortion field. 'you can't use word and excel documents' ' macs are expensive' 'macs are for dummies' 'macs are good for graphics, but that's it' 'I want a real computer'

Am I just a Mac freak like all the rest? For over 15 years now I have used consistently, for every-day use, the latest Windows operating system and the latest Apple operating system. For 6 years my company was a Microsoft partner. Right now, I use Windows XP, Vista and Mac OS X concurrently at work, every day. I have three monitors in front of me: an HP PC running Windows XP, my MacBook Pro laptop running Mac OS X, and another monitor which is running Vista from my laptop using a virtual machine.

Anyway, you shouldn't have got me started! ;-)

Other related posts:
Even Bill has trouble with Windows
Where is my Cinnamon Dolce Creme Latte?

Comment by Mauricio Freitas, on 25-Mar-2008 14:37

"Windows XP plagued with security problems"? This coming from someone using Mac OS X, an OS which just had an update plugging 95 security holes?

Windows Vista has less security problems than Mac OS X had in the same one year since launch. It is a fact.

The problem is that malware writers rather invest time creating those programs to attack a bigger audience - Windows. But wait a bit more and soon we will hear of more and more Mac OS X exploits being actively used in the wild.

Comment by freitasm, on 25-Mar-2008 14:40

Wow... This coming from someone using Mac OS X? The same OS which had 95 vulnerabilities fixed in the last update?

Windows Vista has less vulnerabilities than Mac OS X had in the same time after launch. But because of Steve's RDF those Mac users won't ever admit it...

Comment by chakkaradeep, on 25-Mar-2008 17:08

Malware/Viruses/Threats - these arent meant only for *Windows*.People who write those earn a lot and the only way to earn profit is to write something for which *majority* of the people use and without any doubt thats *Microsoft Windows*. If Mac becomes popular (and they are), it will be same for them too and same for any other Operating System around.

'macs are expensive' - That is one way true. I am from India and there is no way an average user can afford for Apple Products in India. Its way toooo expensive back in India. Another best example is to see how NZ Apple Products were an year before and now. I came to NZ last year (2007) and today I can see Apple Products have gone a big change in their prices. They are becoming cheaper and affordable by people. Best example for this would be the number of Students getting a Mac here in our University (University Of Otago). This wasn't the situation just a year back!

Comment by Craig Nakamoto, on 26-Mar-2008 02:05

These arguments regarding security are tiring.

Let's forget about statistics and the media. Let's forget about numbers of vulnerabilities - I mean, who cares if there is a vulnerability if it is caught and fixed before it is exploited?

Based on my own limited experience over the last decade (designing, installing, and supporting Windows and Macintosh networks), I can without a doubt confirm that operating a Windows XP computer takes at least 10 times more effort to keep running smoothly than any version of Mac OS X.

On Windows XP, if you don't take the proper measures, it is only a matter of time before an active user is infected and has to spend hours trying to clean up the mess. Almost always, a reinstallation is required to regain FULL stability.

On Mac OS X I have never experienced a virus or known anyone to have had a virus. I have never used anti-virus software on my Macs.

Anyone who denies this claim clearly does not have enough experience with both platforms.

Let me assure you that when my company did IT support, the Windows clients were considerably more profitable than the Macintosh clients.

I agree that authors of malware have more incentive to target Windows. Mac users have been living in a happy void for over a decade without having to worry about security. It has been about 7 years since Mac OS X was released. Why not take advantage of it while it lasts?

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James VanAlstine
New Zealand

I'm unashamedly a gadget/computer geek. It all started with a Commodore Vic 20 in the early '80s. I'm really into mobile computing. I've had a Palm M125, and an HP Ipaq 2210. Presently I have an HTC Falcon Pocket PC phone and a Nokia N800 Internet Tablet. My computer interests are fixing up old PCs and installing Linux on them. My distros of choice are DSL and PCLinuxOS.

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