I hate the term fanboy. It's a pejorative meant to denigrate someone's opinion. A conversation-ender. After applying it to someone, really there's nothing left to say. But seeing the reaction to Windows 8, I get why people use it.
Very many people who have never used the new early prototype Windows tablet have been shitting all over it like a public toilet, largely sight unseen. Much of that has centered around the fan.
Yeah, the fan blows. It's annoying. We get it! I'm with you.
But the Metro interface in Windows 8 is amazing. It's certainly advanced the field of gesture-based computing. The pen-based handwriting recognition just plain works. The ability to run two apps at once in snap state is spectacular. (I can't wait to use MLB At Bat while web-browsing, for example.) Metro apps are also ridiculously easy to develop and, thanks to the built-in Windows Store, easy to sell. There's a very low bar to entry to make and distribute great-looking gesture-based apps that accomplish all kinds of tasks. They're are going to be loads of them, doing very interesting things, produced by people who have never before made an app. It's profound.
If you're not intrigued by Windows 8 and Metro, if you can't recognize that it's a big leap forward, if you're not excited about what it means for you, personally then you don't really care about technology; you care about brands. You care about platforms. You care about politics. You're a fanboy.
Look, we all lean certain ways. I have my own set of preferences. I tend to vote for Democrats and buy Apple products. But that's because they tend to support my priorities, not vice-versa. If the Democrats suddenly turned their backs on science, or Apple began pushing out products with buggy cluttered interfaces, I'd look elsewhere. I don't really get those who treat brands like sports teams, offering blind allegiance over self-interest. That's just zealotry. God bless that file system; my platform, right or wrong.
The older I get the less I trust anyone who puts party or platform over the advancement of society.
This Apple Taliban's focus on the fan misses a huge point about Windows 8: It will trickle-down everywhere, and in little ways and large ones, it will make your Apple products better. Ultimately, Windows 8 will improve the Mac OS, and iOS, and hell yes, even the iPad.
Right now the iPad is the only game in town. Want a tablet? You should buy an iPad. No kidding. No exaggeration. Other tablet computers would be great if the iPad didn't exist. But it does. And as a result I would never in good faith tell anyone making a purchasing decision that they should buy anything else.
And before you berate me, know that I own an Android tablet and have used others. But I also own three iPads. They're better. They have more apps, a more responsive interface; they just plain work. We use them constantly. I'm not even sure where the Android tablet is. I think it might be in a drawer somewhere. I used to keep it in the shitter to read books on its Kindle app, not wanting to sully my iPad. But then the battery died and quite frankly it wasn't worth my time to find the charger and now I've lost the tablet too. I don't miss it.
I make this point not to attack Android, but to point out that the iPad doesn't really have any competition. Competition is good. It makes everyone work harder and do better. Windows 8 is going to be competitive. And if you care enough about technology to be platform agnostic, you know that's a good thing.
Improvements on one platform drive improvements on others. Typically (yes this is true, Windows zealots) Apple is leading the charge when it comes to interface technology. But not always. And as much as the Apple Taliban loves to point out every Mac OS feature and icon that eventually shows up in Windows (and in fairness many do) Apple is more than willing to borrow features from other platforms. The mouse and the graphical user interface were ripped off from Xerox, for example. More recently, the way notifications work in iOS 5 are very liberally borrowed from Android. I'm going to be amazed if, down the line, iOS doesn't borrow some features from Metro.
Look, the fan is noisy and it runs nearly constantly. But as Microsoft relentlessly explained, this is a developer preview running on sub-optimal hardware. The Samsung tablet that previewed at BUILD will never hit the market with Windows 8. Yet people keep bringing it up, again and again, as reason enough to dismiss the whole show. Apple would never show something like that, they argue.
And they're right. Kind of. Apple would never trust you enough to let you hold something unreleased like that in your hands for evaluative purposes. But it shows off early previews of things all the time. And quite often it trots something out onstage that just doesn't work. If you've never seen Jobs have a minor fit onstage when something doesn't work, you've missed some of his most entertaining moments.
Forget the fan. Focus on the interface. Metro is a fantastic way to get things done. Microsoft has fundamentally started over. It's built something ridiculously great. Now, whether or not it will get its act (and technology) together enough to ship Windows 8 and Metro on an ARM-based tablet that won't need a fan before Apple leapfrogs it is another question.
But for now, based purely on what it's shown, Windows 8—and especially Metro—is fantastic. It feels like the future. And you can bet those Windows 8 developer builds are being installed and evaluated on machines all over Infinite Loop. Because while those outside of Apple may be blind to how great Metro is, those inside are not. Apple gets that it can learn from Microsoft (yes, Microsoft!) even if the Apple Taliban does not.
Look, I'm with you. I love Apple products. They're great! But Windows 8? I'm a fan, baby. I'm a really big fan. And I'm noisy.
You can keep up with Mat Honan, the author of this post, on Twitter, Facebook, or Google+.
Chris Madden is a New York-based illustrator and designer. You can see his work here, follow him on Facebook and Twitter