What is Macrimination? – Once upon a time, the Apple Macintosh was at the top of the personal computer heap. If you worked with Photoshop or digital music, you had to know what a Finder was and how to use it. If your computer work space had icons, menus and a "desktop," you also had a one-button mouse and probably used AppleTalk to connect to your printer, which was noisier than a airliner and used a ribbon. Bill Gates wasn’t a household name yet, and legend has it that he prowled the halls of Microsoft yelling at his software engineers that their output didn’t look enough like the Mac OS.

I’ll be the first to admit that those days are gone, most probably forever. These days, most folks are more familiar with Microsoft Outlook’s calendar pane than they are with Apple’s iCal, and have a start menu instead of a dock.

This is fine. Truthfully, I prefer to be a part of the minority, part of the hip underground that looks at computing as an enjoyable experience and not something that has to be endured.

Unfortunately, there are also some unwanted side effects of this anonymity. Many feel comfortable with the known (Windows), even if it is mediocre, and fear the unknown (Macs). How could Macs be easier and better if more people don’t have them? It couldn’t have anything to do with Microsoft’s unfair business practices, of course. The company has already paid its price to the Department of Justice, after all (this is another column entirely).

I don’t totally blame Apple for the situation. The company continues to innovate and remain dedicated to its vision as the only computer maker to control much of the user experience from the hardware to the software (see iLife). With OS X, Apple has accomplished what many others have tried to do and failed at. It has made UNIX easy to use and enjoyable to look at. But so far, it sill remains a secret. Although Apple says it is gaining market share, even if only slightly, it’s still hard to believe how many IT folks still look surprised when you tell them that the Mac OS is now UNIX (this happened to me recently).

Which brings me to Macrimination, a term I’ve used for a couple of years now. It is not meant to sound whiny, or like I’m complaining. I’m not looking for affirmative action for Macs. It is meant to draw attention to the lack of understanding that still exists in those who are willing to blindly follow the Wintel doctrine. It is meant to give voice to the anger I feel when I go into a Best Buy store, and all I can purchase is CD-R media or speakers (Best Buy now sells iPods, but that’s still not enough to make me happy). It is meant to give voice at the frustration I feel when I go to sites made by Webmasters who include code specifically excluding Mac browsers (pages like this one are all too common).

There are advantages and disadvantages to both platforms (Windows and Mac). I don’t trash friends just because they use PCs. I just want PC users to understand how modern, sophisticated and easy to use the new Macs are. I want Webmasters and Internet content providers to understand that yes, you can actually listen to MP3s and watch Windows Media Player files on the Mac.

Sometimes I think there would be no Macrimination problem if only every Windows user were forced to glimpse Mac OS X in action on a desktop in an office, or on a laptop in the seat next to them on an airplane. I’ve seen it happen. At my old office, where I was the only one to use a G4 in a sea of cheap PC clones, they would walk past my workstation and stop in front of my monitor and ask what kind of computer I was using. After a minute or two of showing them around, they would be convinced that Macs are capable computers.