A Mac can barely print to a Windows print server. Google Docs hardly works on an iPad. eBook readers do not open the others’ formats. Outlook for Mac cannot save a PST. Why aren’t these popular systems more compatible? Eric Castro reminds us that these companies are competitors that work to maintain a strategic advantage and increase profit.
Users express the misconception that computers are designed to work as well as possible for the customer. If only this were always true! Great design can drive sales, but usability takes a back seat when competitive advantage is involved. Users would love a touch screen Mac, but Apple has little incentive to compromise its iPad strategy. Microsoft would prefer that Office for Windows always be stronger than Office for Mac.
Tech departments can help users avoiding incompatibilities by communicating issues clearly, suggesting workarounds, and helping people understand how companies develop features and consider compatibility.
Here is a helpful graphic from Gizmodo.
Apple’s flimsy cases have caused us grief again. Out of our 280 student machines, we are sending 60 to Apple for case repair. Pictured below are half of the boxes and some of the computer being prepared for mailing. You can imagine how long it takes to complete the paperwork and mail 60 boxes. Meanwhile, the students do not have their computers.
Here is an example of case cracking. It’s important to send these for repair now, because Apple covers the repair if the cracking only appears on the edge. If the crack spreads around the corner, then Apple consistently claims it was dropped and charge for the repair. Our students take the blame for normal handling of their computers in a school environment.
Is the MacBook Pro aluminum unibody case better? After one year, we have seen almost no case damage due to cracking, not surprising given that it is made of thick aluminum. However, check out this nasty crack along the flimsy plastic hinge cover!
During summer laptop maintenance, we touch every teacher and student machine to perform updates, change some configuration settings, and fix hardware issues. As of today, we have 40 Macs out for service out of a total of about 200 machines that have passed through our hands. Far and away the leading category of repair is MacBook computers with cracked plastic cases.
I know our kids are hard on these computers, but they also carry them to school, through five to seven periods, to afternoon activities, and then back home each day. We want the kids to use the computers, after all. This repair rate creates hours of additional work for us and days of delays to the students.
Why oh why won’t a computer manufacturer produce a laptop truly designed for highly mobile, high-use individuals like students?