Last week some 600,000 MAC users lost their virginity. The Flashback Trojan has made it glaringly apparent that Apple’s operating systems are not nearly as immune to nasties as many of their aficionados thought. In our innocence and years of hype, we have assumed that there is little need for antivirus software. After all that’s a Windows problem.
Apple was painfully slow issuing a patch and, when it did, it was only for its latest operating systems. The rest of us were left to fend for ourselves. All of which once again brings up that old question in my mind, “Should the next system I buy be MAC or Microsoft?” Many assume that MACs are the cadillac of computers and well they should. Go Apple and you spare no expense. When this writer bought his first MAC tower five years ago, I paid $4500. A good Windows counterpart could be had then for under two grand. A year later for about $1,600 I also paid twice as much, relatively speaking, for an Apple laptop.
My tower’s operating system is called Tiger. By the time I bought the laptop, it was Leopard. Apple is on a catty roll because after Leopard there was Snow Leopard, Lion and now Mountain Lion. No wonder Apple is sitting on mountains of cash, updating constantly is a cash cow, or in this case, a cash cat.
Windows users may not quite appreciate the software significance of all these new systems. Many still are using XP which I used on my computers for years before buying my MACs. As a serious amateur photographer, the most important program on my tower is Adobe Photoshop. (My laptop doesn’t have enough RAM or space to make installing Photoshop worthwhile.) However, the latest version of Photoshop won’t run on Tiger but it will on an ancient Windows XP with SP3. And Microsoft is still supporting XP until next year, Apple no longer supports Tiger. Tough luck for Tiger users. So why not update my operating system? Frankly, the new Adobe features don’t much interest me and I would much rather save my money for new lenses ― 50-year old Nikon lenses still work on the latest Nikon digital cameras.
A word of warning to Windows users who may be considering going over to the dark side and buying their first MAC. The more you know about Windows, the harder it will be for you to adjust to the MAC operating system. Windows commands don’t work on a MAC but you’ll try them anyway. Over the years, I met the challenges of DOS, Windows NT and Windows XP. Fortunately, there were tons of instruction manuals written for these systems and wonderful authors like Mark Minasi writing them. When I bought my first MAC, I ordered numerous reference books and still continue to do so but my skill level is still best described as floundering. My lasting impression of Apple’s operating system is that it makes hard things easy, and easy things hard. Deleting applications, for example, is a snap on a MAC but it took me an hour to even find the DVD on my tower. Fortunately the godsend for new MAC users are the experienced MAC users on the Internet ― they’re numerous, vocal and very bright.
Coming back to the Flashback Trojan, yeah, I’m one of the 600,000 that got caught. But thanks to the experienced MAC users and their chatter on blogs and websites, I believe I’ve successfully banished Flashback to the trojan netherworld. But only after a day of panic, fear and desperation. It’s a tough thing, being deflowered.