Thoughts after reading a good article at The Register about the latest Windows security holes…

One of the great things about having switched most of my work to a Mac is that I don’t have to worry about these. I’m not naive enough to think, however, that this is purely due to technical superiority on the part of Mac OS X. How vulnerable, I wonder, would my Mac would turn out to be if Apple were the big monopoly? At the moment I’m fairly safe because (a) virus writers want to hit the largest population, and (b) they want to get at Microsoft.

Apple users are a small minority, and the same market realities which mean that we get fewer software packages ported to our platform also mean that we’re a less interesting target for hackers. People writing Apple viruses would also be attacking artists, writers, designers – the little guys. Microsoft viruses hit the big corporations, the banks – the people who are more amusing when they get egg on their faces.

But the other factor is that Apple has never inspired the same sort of hatred that so many reserve for Microsoft. Why? OK, Microsoft’s software often stinks, their business tactics are unethical, they provide appalling support and so on, but that’s probably true of most big companies. Is it simply because they’re so powerful? There are many people who dislike whichever government happens to be in power, just because it’s in power. Anyone with an anarchical streak will lash out against those with authority.

However, there are many Apple ‘users’ who might be more aptly described as ‘devotees’ or ‘disciples’. They really like Apple. This is a marked contrast to Microsoft. Most people I’ve met who ‘really like’ Microsoft also happen to be those whose livelihood somehow depends on promoting MS products. Perhaps Apple users are displaying the natural response of any minority: we chose somebody different, and our enthusiastic loyalty to our cause helps us feel that we made the right choice in the face of all the statistical evidence.

But perhaps (and here’s a cheery bit of Christmas optimism) they genuinely are a better, nicer company with better, nicer products?

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© Copyright Quentin Stafford-Fraser