Engadget has published the results of its shoot-out between Vista and Leopard. Naturally, Mail.app and iCal win over Windows Mail and Windows Calendar.
In fact, to cut to the chase, Leopard wins the features shoot-out with 46 points to Vista’s 41.
Thinking about this exercise put me in mind of Umberto Eco’s well-known comparison between Macs and PCs, which he published in the Italian news magazine Espresso in 1994.
It is worth quoting at length:
…Insufficient consideration has been given to the new underground religious war which is modifying the modern world. It’s an old idea of mine, but I find that whenever I tell people about it they immediately agree with me.
The fact is that the world is divided between users of the Macintosh computer and users of MS-DOS compatible computers. I am firmly of the opinion that the Macintosh is Catholic and that DOS is Protestant. Indeed, the Macintosh is counter-reformist and has been influenced by the ‘ratio studiorum’ of the Jesuits. It is cheerful, friendly, conciliatory, it tells the faithful how they must proceed step by step to reach–if not the Kingdom of Heaven–the moment in which their document is printed. It is catechistic: the essence of revelation is dealt with via simple formulae and sumptuous icons. Everyone has a right to salvation.
DOS is Protestant, or even Calvinistic. It allows free interpretation of scripture, demands difficult personal decisions, imposes a subtle hermeneutics upon the user, and takes for granted the idea that not all can reach salvation. To make the system work you need to interpret the program yourself: a long way from the baroque community of revellers, the user is closed within the loneliness of his own inner torment.
You may object that, with the passage to Windows, the DOS universe has come to resemble more closely the counter-reformist tolerance of the Macintosh. It’s true: Windows represents an Anglican-style schism, big ceremonies in the cathedral, but there is always the possibility of a return to DOS to change things in accordance with bizarre decisions; when it comes down to it, you can decide to allow women and gays to be ministers if you want to…..
And machine code, which lies beneath both systems (or environments, if you prefer)? Ah, that is to do with the Old Testament, and is talmudic and cabalistic…
Which is more whimsical: the attempt to compare the feature sets of Vista and Leopard on the assumption that they rest on some notional level playing field or structuralism gone wild in correlating computers with Christian denominations?
What spirit of prophecy lead Eco to pair Anglicanism’s current troubles so precisely with the ever-increasing torment of Windows users? apple, not apple mail, not mail.app, windows, vista, leopard, catholicism, protestantism, Anglicanism, whimsy, switching, conversion
, not apple mail
, not mail.app