Once upon a time, an Apple lover

Once upon a time, an Apple lover

Summary: A former Apple salesman and longtime Mac user forsakes the Apple platform for Windows. The post causes Mac fans to go nuts.


David Sobotta, once a salesman at Apple and now marketing VP at WideOpen Networks, a Gigabit Ethernet consultancy, recently authored a piece (some might say screed) on ReadWriteWeb titled How I Moved Away From The Mac After Leaving Apple. The article tells a tale of how Sobotta found PCs better and cheaper than Macs, and how Microsoft has improved Windows usability over the past several upgrades.  

Some Mac fans immediately decried this post as traitorous; others believe that Sobotta must have lost his mind. After all, once a Mac user, always a Mac user, right?

Once upon a time, an Apple lover

Of course, I like many Mac users am also an occasional Windows user. I've owned PCs for business use, since Windows was required to connect with Windows-only databases and programs. (I haven't considered myself a traitor to the Mac platform nor deranged — much.) And that's how it happened for Sobotta: he worked for Windows-only companies.

After Apple, I was a vice president at a small federal contractor that dealt a lot with large system integrators. While my sales team at Apple had a lot of success selling to the scientific community in the federal space, we had only started to touch the federal integration market, with products like Xserve, by the time my Apple career ended. But for the most part, federal integrators and contractors, including the one I worked for, were almost exclusively Windows users, so I bought a Dell laptop in 2005 so as not to be the only Mac user in a room of 50 people.

The following year, when I started my job as vice president of sales and marketing in an email services startup, I was the only one of 45 employees who used a Mac. The team there was far from old; there were only four employees, myself included, who were over 30 years old. Much of the software we used was web-based, but there were things that were easier to get done on Windows. I eventually ended up carrying two laptops for my work there: my Dell, and my Intel MacBook.

Sobotta said he continued to use Macs for certain tasks and Windows for others. He reported trouble with an iMac and other Macs.

In addition, Sobotta has written a number of posts critical of Apple on his personal blog. For example, one about how he doesn't miss working there.

Apple is not about rewarding success, it is more about allocating blame. If something does not go according to the numbers on an Excel spreadsheet that comes from Apple's finance department, there will be hell to pay somewhere in Apple. Apple is more about money than any product.

And then there's his Kindle book, The Pomme Company, which describes the problems working under the reality distortion distortion field surrounding Apple's Cupertino headquarters and his personal experience at the company.

The reason that this post is garnering attention in the Mac community is first that it goes against the current common wisdom about Macintosh, one that is increasingly being accepted in business: Mac hardware, OS and software are always better and more secure than any Windows machine or program, and the Apple platform will provide a better experience and better ROI for any user. This post says it ain't necessarily so.

What's interesting here is a practice that can befall longtime Mac users, especially power users. They are often reticent to take their Macs into the shop. They believe that can fix problems themselves with this utility or that analytic program. Maybe so, but while Mac hardware is high quality, it doesn't mean that things can't go wrong. I suggest purchasing the 3-year AppleCare warranty extension and when problems come up, to take the machine in for servicing, earlier rather than later. (I don't always follow my own recommendations and right now, I'm waiting on taking in my MacBook Pro because of its failing video card.)

Secondly, there's always the distrust of the Apple experience by PC users. Here's a post from someone worked at Apple, who must know better. He says Windows is just as good as the Mac and the hardware is cheaper. Sobotta can see behind the curtain, truth-telling that the Mac and iOS aren't necessarily better, or can work just as well for some folks.

This all drives Mac users totally nuts. Of course, there's a big dollop of defensiveness with this reaction and some of the reason for that emotion is historical. For some, the Mac and PC have always been at war and there has to be a winner, even though Steve Jobs himself in the summer of 1997 called an end to the "era of competition between Apple and Microsoft."

"Apple lives in an ecosystem. And it needs help from other partners; it needs to help other partners. Relationships that are destructive don't help anybody in this industry as it is today. During the last several weeks, we've looked at relationships. One [relationship] stood out as one that hasn't been going so well, but has the potential to be great for both companies: Microsoft," Jobs said that day.

But the fight continues on both sides. Im many ways, Mac users' continued defensiveness about the PC platform is understandable. There's the worry that businesses and government will return to the biased purchasing practices that excluded the Mac from sites for several decades. This may ignore the continuing trend towards BYOD and that the Mac is the most flexible, reliable and quality platform. The worry is that all the progress could all be reversed as it was in the 1990s.

Is this reasonable? Perhaps not, but reason has been in short supply for most of Mac history.

Topics: Apple, Laptops, Operating Systems, Windows, Windows 8

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  • And the point is ...

    .... Clickbait? Probably.

    I'm not an Apple fan, never was; but I did use an Applemac for a few months about 15 years ago, and it was an absolute joy. I remember telling the 'Art Desk' that one day, Windows would be as user friendly, and the software would be as good.

    Neither happened, of course, and my Windows loyalty was a somple calculation of convenience, cost and availability of software I loved.

    This guy's story couldn't be more diffferent; for a guy in the know to suddenly grow a loyalty to Windows, just when it's obsolete?

    Frankly, he's either had a brainstorm (he said, politely), or - more likely - he's a disgruntled ex-employee on the rampage.

    Either way, He's Just One Man. Yeah. Clickbait covers it.
    • Even in your continued spiral towrads obsolescence, Heenan73

      all posts from you are for no other reason then to spin everything into yet another "MS is dying" post.

      So you blame everyone who posts words you fear, as those words counter what you want, and those words are growing to levels of discomfort for you.

      I can't be sure if you're just trolling, shilling for some company, or actually believe what you post, but the one thing I'm sure of is that you see Windows everywhere, and you obsess because it isn't dead.
    • Pre-Vista Days

      For personal computing, pre-Vista days I too liked Mac OS better then Windows XP. And more times then not, the Mac hardware was always better, more streamlined, lighter, etc.

      But just like with smartphones and tablets, that was then and this is now. Windows has caught up in security and stability and has surpassed OSX in flexibility and innovation. Its not just the elements that you see but what's under the hood with tech like restore points, Hyper-V layers, application virtualization, etc.
      Rann Xeroxx
      • Innovation?

        @Rann Xeroxx

        I'm with you on the notion of Windows catching up in terms of security and stability. It's the innovation part that I'm struggling with. Since when is adding features that have been around for decades in the mainframe world like virtualization, etc. examples of innovation? We can put fancy names around anything, but if it's been done before, it's not innovation.

        From an OS / technology perspective, Windows is fine and certainly competitive. However, from a usability perspective, Windows 8 feels like a step in the wrong direction to me. It feels more like a marketing attempt to leverage their desktop sales volume advantage into an advantage in the mobile platforms. Except that's not happening. Consumers don't appear to be happy with Windows 8 from a usability perspective and it hasn't resulted in a windfall of sales for Surface or Windows Phone. It will be interesting to see what MS does with Windows 9. Will they double down on the "Metro" like interface for the desktop or will they come to their senses and build off of their Windows 7 UI? I'm hoping for the latter for their sake.
  • So small minded

    Mac or Windows ??? Why don't use Linux ? Why don't use three of them ? Each have their own ability. Mac great design, easy to use for home, profesional and business. Windows great for business and controling in corporate environtment. Linux great server and cheap.
    • BeOS!

      I want BeOS! Mac, Windows, Linux ... they are all so 1970s.
      • It's Called Haiku

        BeOS replicated and a work in progress. They may appreciate having testers.
  • Totally true voltus..

    I look at it as more tools in the bag. My mac has windows server, win8(yuck so far), and Ubuntu. Each has their purpose.
  • As I read in MacUser magazine once in the late '80s

    "Macs are tools, not a superior religion". I've never forgotten it. I've used just about every form of operating system in use in the last 25 years from high-end mainframe and UNIX variants to Android and iOS. They all have had their pros and cons, working better for some kinds of applications than others. Nothing more, nothing less.
  • Really???

    "Some Mac fans immediately decried this post as traitorous"

    It's not that David Sobotta's switch to Windows is viewed as "traitorous"... it's that the reasons he gives for the switch are specious.

    Mr. Sobotta's article ignores that fact that he CAN run Windows and Linux on his Mac, and in fact he can run them simultaneously with OS X.

    And when Mr. Sobotta writes:"Having a Dell system among the collection of Macs in my office was also a way to see how the majority of the computing world was surviving on a platform which I had sold against for years.", that is just about the lamest excuse for buying a Dell computer (or any other Windows computer).

    Mr. Sobotta has given no justifiable reason for giving up his Mac (which runs OS X, Windows, and Linux applications). One suspects that there are other motives at work which may be very subjective.
    Harvey Lubin
    • I ALWAYS get a kick when a Mac fanboi uses...

      ...alternative operating systems to advocate the Mac.
    • Dropped Into a Windows World

      If I was in a position where choosing Windows was the path of least resistance and, in fact, assumed, I'd probably go with a Windows laptop, which is likely to be lower priced in terms of the hardware and definitely lower-priced for the Windows license acquisition and not needing a VM host. I did dual-boot Windows and Linux in the past, I didn't like it, so BootCamp isn't a solution for me. (It may be for you. I'm not telling you what to do.)

      (I'd use the MBP at home. In fact, my slogan is "I don't use Windows unless someone is paying me.")

      I can't defend any one who tells someone else they bought the wrong computer. I can fault someone who has a list of reasons and who doesn't understand that all it takes is one, and who feels compelled to initiate a discussion with the interwebs about their choice. Ooooh, he used to work for Apple. Yeah, and I'm sure there are people who used to work for Microsoft who now use Apple products. So. What.

      Have to say, I do wonder when tech journalist will get that "Internet Commenters Swarm on Person's Decision" is "Dog Bites Man."
    • Quite happy with my Macbook Pro

      It serves me well for the way I work. Wouldn't dream of telling suniversity's it would be the best solution for them though. Sometimes the fact that everyone you work with uses Windows is enough reason to switch. Running Windows in a VM isn't always an easy or cheap option. My university's Windows site licence "assumes" it's going to be installed on a PC that came with a version of Windows preinstalled. To legally run Windows in a VM I would need to purchase a full retail copy.
  • Quote

    "The reason that this post is garnering attention in the Mac community is first that it goes against the current common wisdom about Macintosh, one that is increasingly being accepted in business: Mac hardware, OS and software are always better and more secure than any Windows machine or program, and the Apple platform will provide a better experience and better ROI for any user. This post says it ain't necessarily so."

    The only people who think the above are people outside of client IT. If you work with client technology, you know that Windows 7/8 can be made to be as secure, if not even more secure, then OSX (I only say more secure because with GPO, you can really lockdown a PC very easily, with OSX, you end up doing a lot of scripting). Both platform's biggest holes are 3rd party apps and runtimes like Java.

    Hardware wise, Macs are a pain in the a%$ to work on. Most enterprises by enterprise build clients for easy swap outs of components, even by users.

    And corporate management of a Windows PC is 10X as robust as with OSX. From bare metal provisioning to image patch injection, managing PCs is a breeze. Both systems have about the same number of software and OS issues.

    And the ROI note is just laughable.
    Rann Xeroxx
    • re:

      I was going to call BS on that paragraph too, but you beat me to it. This is the kind of subtle propaganda that adherents try to sneak into a larger conversation with the hope that it will go unnoticed and unquestioned and, thus, become a widely believed "fact".
      Sir Name
      • Are You Saying

        That the common wisdom is out-dated or unnuanced? OMG, I would have never thought.

        No need to call bs or dispute that paragraph, unless the common wisdom is being misrepresented. Calling something common wisdom is not proof or endorsement, and indeed, seems to a precursor to an immediate "turns out."

        Besides, the common wisdom is that Windows is the choice for desktop use. We've got numbers.

        And Android is the choice for mobile use. We've got numbers there, too.
  • Quote from Article: "Apple is more about money than any product"

    At least in the consumer space. Oracle does a pretty good of it in the enterprise space. Weren't Steve and Larry buds?
    Rabid Howler Monkey
  • use both everyday

    I use all sorts of Windows and OSX IOS Android and grew up with it all - I even remember the TRS-80. It has always been apparent that Apple sold to a market segment and appealed to them with the usual hype/spin. But MS and Apple always worked together in co-op behind the scenes. But the Apple fans were loath to admit it. Do you remember when MS bailed out a failing Apple - Steve and Bill were onstage together and the Apple fanboys actually boo-ed the man who had just saved their beloved.
  • It hasn't been for quite some time.

    "This post says it ain't necessarily so."

    I've been a Mac user since I purchased my LC II back in the day. Back then the Mac offered some tangible benefits over the PC. With the release of Windows XP the PC essentially caught up with the Mac (I'm intentionally leaving out Windows NT 3.1 - 2000 as they were business focused releases). Since then the Mac hasn't offered the benefits it once did. Yes, they were nice systems. But they weren't considerably better as they once had been.

    Today Windows and Mac are, IME, equal in usability, reliability, security, etc. Pretty much everything a user would want from their computer. There is nothing magical about the Mac anymore.