The Macintosh Advantage

April 6, 2005 10:00 AM

One of the commonly repeated lies spread about the Mac by non-believers is that it is somehow 'limited' by the fact that it only ships with a single-button mouse. You see this 'fact' trolled across every single Apple-related discussion on the Internet.

In fact, nothing could be further from the truth.

Since 2003, all desktop Macintosh computers have shipped without a keyboard or mouse. Instead, they come with a single button bearing the Apple logo. If you get a chance to see one of these buttons, make sure you do, because they're a triumph of Jonathan Ive's industrial design: sleek and elegant, white plastic for the iMac, brushed aluminium for the PowerMac.

Each press of the button activates a sophisticated, context-sensitive OS X user interface, which will then proceed to do whatever it was you pressed the button for. The Mac uses a powerful predictive heuristic to determine what it is you are trying to accomplish, and just does it for you at the press of one button, no mess, no fuss.

Of course, sometimes this interface works a little too well. I remember one night I came home from work feeling frustrated at my lack of progress on a project. I pressed the button, expecting my iMac to make me a nice, hot cup of tea. Five minutes later, Jennifer Garner showed up at my front door carrying a case of beer.

Macintosh folk feel sorry for their PC-using brethren, though, so most of us plug in a keyboard and mouse anyway, just so they don't feel jealous.

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