I’ve never been an Apple fan.

Never been able to actually pinpoint why I naturally distrust it, but after the experience that every person my age can remember in elementary school; that is to say, using those antiquitated Apple IIe systems that seemed to be preloaded with Oregon Trail (you all remember it, don’t deny it) and then in my case, the difference between OS 9 and Windows 2000…it just seemed unbearably ugly to me and unintuitive. Of course, the “ugly factor” changed with the release of OS X, but at that point I was already solidly entrenched in the Windows camp as my family had owned a PC for years by that point. I grew up with DOS before that…not System 7 or whatever Apple called their releases in the dark(er) days before OS 9.

But then there was Vista. You better believe I was excited for Vista to come out, ever since it was first whispered about in the tech magazines as “that Longhorn development project.” I loved XP, especially compared to the Windows 98 I had been using previously, but it was like a kid in a candy store to imagine all of the new features that Longhorn would have…this new database-style file system called WinFS, this amazing new windowing manager that would make “tearing” a thing of the past, 64-bit-ism natively of course, indexed searching based in WinFS, the new DirectX…it seemed like the 3 years everyone figured it would take stretched on forever.

Of course, as everyone knows, the 3 years stretched into 4, into 5, and Longhorn turned into Vista and various new features were dropping like flies. Does anyone else remember the “three pillars of Vista”? WinFX, WinFS, and Aero. WinFS vanished pretty soon into the game, and I remember wryly wondering how soon the others would follow. In the end, WinFX survived, turned into another bland new version of the .NET framework, and only Aero went on to become touted idiotically in Microsoft’s commercials as “WOW!!!”

Of course, it finally did come out in November of ’06 (for businesses like mine) and January of ’07 to much fanfare, none more than I. The psychologist in me wonders if it was a little bit of quiet desperation on my part and denial, hoping that these betas that I’d been testing for almost eight months were just that; betas, and this final version, “Windows 6.0” if you check the version number…would be the answer to my prayers, and I could breathe a sigh of relief and go back to bashing Apple like I always have.

I put Vista on my laptop (a Dell XPS m1210) right away, and still have it on there now. During that time period, I still have three devices that show up as unknown on it, over six months after the OS has been released! I can’t completely fault Microsoft on this of course, but more like all of the various vendors that should have had their act together when the rest of us “common folk” were out beta testing the software they of course knew they would be putting on their hardware. Where are the drivers? Dell is a huge corporation; no excuse.

To make matters worse…where are the stable drivers? This past weekend, I was at a family reunion and wanted to show them a small selection of my Britain trip pictures. My uncle has a nice TV, so I figured I’d just use the XPS’s s-video out port and put it up on the screen. To my dismay, the video graphics drivers displayed in 16 bit color for the entire time on both screens, and even more aggravatingly, once I closed Vista’s Photo Gallery application that I had been running my slide show in, the system crashed about 7 times in a row and continued to crash. This is with the latest Intel drivers (and yes, I know that Intel Extreme Graphics are anything but) and all of the latest patches. I rolled my eyes heavenward and said “WHY, Microsoft, WHY??!!?”

That might have been the straw that broke the camel’s back. Either that or being an Apple technician at the repair center has finally cracked my disdain of Mac computers. Even though I still think that Steve Jobs is a smug elitist snob, and far too many of the Apple elite who follow him are simpering sycophants, I have the confession to make that I am seriously considering turning to the Mac side. Not out of any love for Apple hardware or software (although my XPS’s built-in webcam is simply pathetic compared with the iSight, hands down) but simply because I can’t tolerate all of these crashes, hangs, failures, and blue screens. I feel like I have to become a Mac owner (not a Mac person, I emphasize) just because their drivers seem to be less like swiss cheese.

I’ve heard rumors that say that Vista is already being phased out, that the next version of Windows (which is called either “Vienna” or “Windows 7”, depending on who or when you ask) is already coming out in 2009. Microsoft is already asking a very high retail price for their highest-level versions of Vista (and even though I’m not going to say something snarky like “if you can keep track of them” I still had to raise an eyebrow at who planned out those divisions) and if they’re going to be asking us already in two years to pay again for another OS and have to re-thinking things all over again…frustration abounds.

Who knows? Maybe I can find some sort of happiness with OSX whatever-version-it-is, even if I feel like I’m set upon by a perky drug dealer whenever a Mac fanatic tries to “set me straight.” Although, if I have to hear another nimrod tell me that the iPhone is the greatest thing since sliced bread and they’re selling their kidneys for an iPhone for every iChild, I may take it all back. At least I can feel like an adult when I’m using Windows.

Just happens that I’m a frustrated, disappointed adult.