|This morning I had an experience that provided such a classic picture of the entire IT industry for me right now:
I went into the Microsoft store and was looking at an Acer Aspire S7. It looked nice and said on the blurb "128GB SSD". So I took a peek at the Computer's properties and saw "57.9GB free of 79.8GB" on drive C - the only drive visible.
I asked the sales guy where the 128 - 80 = 48GB was. He told me the missing space was used by the OS, which I politely disagreed with because the OS was currently on Drive C and was using about 22GB of space. He then tells me that the demo software they have installed that's using up the space (I again disagree), and then tells me it's the recovery partition that's using the space, so I ask him to show me this 48GB recovery partition. He hits Window-C, the (HD) screen totally fills with Control panel applets and he types in "Disk management" but nothing appears. He scans the list of applets briefly then gives up and then right-swipes to get the settings but again gives up, and after fumbling around finds a list of partitions, but is unable to get me the size of any of them. He then turns to me and says "this is really outside of a sales thing - I need to get you my tech guy".
He clearly didn't know what he was doing, but he had a good enough clue to be able to navigate around better than most people I've seen who have used Win8. Yet he couldn't answer a simple question relating to what the tag says and what's actually on sale, and said it was a technical, not a sale question. I left the store feeling the same way you feel when you leave a mechanics who tells you you need to get the air in your tyres exchanged at the beginning and end of Winter and that'll be $149.99, please.
I felt lost when he was going all over the place trying to answer the question (and I've used win8 an awful lot) and then I felt like my question was unimportant to them, that I shouldn't be asking it, and that the answers I got were made up (which they were).
It felt complicated, It felt confusing, and it was impossible to make a choice on laptops because there were no answers, and that the answers I would get I couldn't trust anyway.
I wander 3 doors down to the Apple store, look at the properties of a 1TB iMac and ask to see the actual size of the HDD. The sales dude does a single right-click, Get info and shows me that of 999.4GB, there is 978.7GB free. We're done.
There's 1 keyboard layout. You can have light (11" or 13") and medium powered with OK screens or heavier, thicker, more powerful with retina displays (13" or 15"). It's easy - except that I want a retina display on an Air. Not because any other laptop I've ever seen as a retina display: only because the Macbook Pro's have a retina display. I don't actually, in isolation, want a retina display, I just don't want to feel like I'm missing out on something.
When I look at Tablets I see the iPad, Android or Surface devices and they are all fairly simply to use. Phones, be it Android, Win Phone 8, iPhone or Blackerry are all simple to use. They are in fact simpler to use than ever, with only Feature phones being simpler (but many of them were tear the hair out annoying).
Yet Laptops and PCs seem to have increasing their complexity and choice and confusion making the buying decision complicated and intimidating. Windows 8 has made actually using a laptop confusing and complicated. Put these together and you have a sales nightmare: you don't know which one to buy and while trying to decide you don't know how to actually use the thing you think you need to buy.
And then you wander over to Apple and you think "My God this is so simple" and you have limited choice, and you feel you have a chance at making a decision.
Previously, however, the decision would come down to "Do I pay a 30%-50% premium on essentially the same hardware just to get an Apple". For me this has always been game over - I'm simply not willing to pay that much. Yet today I'm looking at a complicated Windows 8 machine that was more expensive than the simple Apple machine.
Buying a PC or laptop/Ultrabook is no longer easy or as cheap as it was a year or so ago. Win8 is (to me anyway) a technically better and more secure operating system than MacOS ruined by an awful UI. Apple has a still-maturing OS that is staring to acknowledge that security is important but still crashes, still locks up and still can't seem to work out how to handle network calls on a background thread. But it's simple, the machines will never offend anyone with their looks, you get what you pay for, and they are now in the same price bracket (or below) many of the Ultrabooks.
I can understand why PC sales have fallen, and for me it's not just tablets. What I don't understand is why Apple hasn't gone for the jugular like they did on Windows Vista.
The Code Project | Co-founder
Microsoft C++ MVP