A rant from a thirty-year Mac user who just bought his first Windows box. Apple, how could you do this to us? I've been a Mac user since 1986, when I bought (used) a "fat mac" with all of 512K of RAM, and a case that still had everyone's signature inside. I had to swap out the motherboard to get to the 1M RAM necessary to run HyperCard. I stuck with the Mac through the days of Spindler and Amelio, and jumped at the chance to buy the first iMac, which was a real value. But this month I bought my first Windows computer ever. Why? Because Apple has so thoroughly lost the plot on the desktop that it's pushing away even loyal three-decade Mac users like myself. The Apple ecosystem is a tripod -- Mac, iPhone, iPad -- and Apple is apparently doing everything it can to chop one of the tripod's legs off. Things will land with a thud. I had (and still have) a mid-2010 Core 2 Duo Mac Mini. I started buying Minis after two iMacs (the original G3 and a G5) because I could no longer see the wisdom in replacing the screen every time I replaced a computer. It seems like planned wastefulness to me; the computer ages out much faster than the screen does. Spring of 2013 I started itching for a quad core. But the Mini was still on a roughly annual release cycle -- remember when Apple actually used to release new Macs for the desktop? -- so I thought I'd wait for the next model to drop. I do occasional light gaming, and the idea of better integrated graphics was part of my decision. So wait wait wait wait. 2013 comes and goes. Most of 2014 comes and goes. Finally, in September of 2014, I decided that there was no point in waiting any longer, and I pulled the switch to buy the quad-core Mini I'm typing this on. Unintentionally a very good move, because a month later Apple announced the Great Mac Mini Stupidization of 2014, a really stunning setback, in which ludicrously underpowered machines were offered up with everything soldered down to, I suppose, keep your desktop memory from being dislodged during an earthquake. Now, the Mac Mini is just a corner of the Mac market, but still, bulk orders for pitchforks and YouTube videos on how to light torches. It was very very dumb, Apple, and -- more importantly -- for the first time ever, it meant buying a new Apple machine meant going backwards in capabilities. That goes against the natural law of computers. So now the Mac pipeline is suffering from intestinal blockage. This entire year, all they released was an Air-called-a-MacBook (oh it's so THIN) and the now-infamous MacBook Extortionate, with its dongle fetish and a whammy bar you can use to play PacMan. The one that was so poorly received it triggered Apple's panicked price-slashing on the required dongle farm and high-end monitors. And that's it. The entire score for 2016. Apple has lost the Mac plot. It's like the days of Spindler and Amelio: watching something wonderful being destroyed by people who apparently simply don't understand why it's so wonderful. I'm keeping my 2012 quad-core Mac Mini, but it's now sharing the desk with my very first Windows box ever. For US$800 (holiday sales price, normally US$950), here's what I got: - i5 at 3.2 GHz, quad core, like you can't get in a Mac Mini - External GPU (GTX 1060 + 6GB RAM), like you can't get in a Mac Mini - 16GB RAM, not soldered in, like you can't get in a Mac - Two empty memory sockets for later, like you can't get in a Mac - 250GB SSD and 1TB spinner, both user-replaceable, like you can't get in a Mac - Empty bays if I want to add more drives later, like you can't get in a Mac - CD/DVD, like you can't get in a Mac, and yes, I do use it - Plus the case, PSU, motherboard, WiFi, etc. All of them user-accessible. - Lots and lots of USB ports that don't need dongles Here's what I didn't get: - an unnecessary and expensive monitor literally glued onto it, like you are forced to get in an iMac - a whammy bar that lets me play Pacman - a forest of dongles to make you weep - Jony Ive telling me it's the thinnest ever, as if thinness is the only virtue - every damned thing welded into place for all time I've set it up with Windows 10 and Ubuntu (the later for development). And you know what? Windows 10 ain't Windows 3.1. It ain't Windows XP. The environment is less cohesive than the Mac, but more cohesive than Linux. It turns out that Microsoft is no longer led by a sweaty ape from marketing trying to keep things as locked down, embrace-extend-and-extinguish, and 1995-ish as possible. Their inability to create a smartphone anyone wants to buy -- after round after round of trying -- taught them a hard lesson. Is OSX better? Yes. But is it four times better? Because that's how much I'd have to pay for a comparable Mac. And the answer is, no, not four times better, not anymore. Windows has its greeblies and wockawockas, but at least they seem to believe the desktop has a future that doesn't involve playing Pacman on a whammy bar. And Microsoft is keenly aware that Apple is abandoning the professional desktop by neglect if not intent. Yes, cars and trucks -- but Apple's mad if it thinks it's going to keep selling a 2013 truck at 2017 prices, and Apple's mad if it thinks people are going to buy a ferociously underpowered Mini-mini-mini, and Apple's mad if it thinks the iMac by itself is a complete desktop line. And the result is that, for the first time ever, this Mac fanatic has a Windows box. Redmond has finally breached the perimeter, because Apple is asleep, and -- at least today -- no longer makes a computer I'd consider buying for my own desk. Will I end up moving to Windows more and more? Dunno. But the camel's nose is inside the tent. Because Apple has utterly lost the Mac plot. Apple -- doesn't anyone there love computers anymore?