So the other day a friend of mine comes over to discuss some business strategy. After chatting for a bit, he asks me if he could use one of my computers to check his E-Mail. Happily obliging, I log into one of my x86-64 machines running Linux/KDE, open up Firefox for him, and tell him to go check.
So my friend sits down, grabs for the mouse and keyboard, and starts looking at the screen with a weird expression on his face. After a couple of seconds, he clicks on the address bar, looks around a bit more, then he motions to me that he could use some help.
I asked him if he used a particular web based e-mail service, he answered in the affirmative that he uses G-Mail. So I typed in the address to G-Mail for him, which brought up the login page asking for his username and password.
He again looks at the screen, types in his username, then pauses again. He turns to me and tells me he feels really uncomfortable using this system, do I have a PC available that he can use?
This question made me completely flabbergasted. My friend is technically oriented, he's been using computers for a decade, he knows various operating systems exist, he knows various web browsers exist. He uses Firefox both at home and work. He even does some VBA scripting in his Excel spreadsheets. What in the world is scaring him about Firefox in Linux/KDE?
As the story continues, I turn to my friend and tell him this is a PC. He looks back at the screen, looks a bit startled, then seems to think for a few moments. Finally he turns to me and says, you know, Windows? So I reboot the machine into Windows XP (all my computers are minimally dual boot), and open up Firefox for him. He sits down happily and checks his E-Mail.
This experience left me thinking though. What the heck is a PC? It seems some people today have got it in their skulls that PC is a connotation for Windows. PC-DOS, PC-BSD, and other OSs must appear oxymoronish to these people if they ever saw them.
Thinking about it, I always for years viewed a PC as something IBM put together, most importantly containing an x86 processor. The basic machine changed over the years, but it was always x86. But then Apple released computers on x86 chips too recently, and they vehemently deny that they use PC hardware. Their basic difference being they don't use any classic PC BIOS.
Should we now take the term PC to mean x86+BIOS? Thinking more about it, a PC should probably be defined as a computer capable of running MS/PC DOS. Maybe even Apple decided to use their whole EFI setup just so they can classify their computers as not PCs. And thanks to dumb marketing, people are now thinking PC means running Windows.
So, do you know anyone who is scared of the same browser on a different OS? What do you think of when you hear "PC"? Has the PC definition changed? Should it change?