My neighbor should be in a Mac ad

Here's a true story.

My neighbor was in the market to replace his aging PC, running Windows XP. While he was debating what to get, I made a small effort to convince him to switch to a Mac ("It can run Windows when you need it and be a Mac when you don't"). He has an iPhone and loves it; his daughter has a MacBook and he is impressed with it. All in all, he seemed ripe for a switch. Still, in the end, he chose to get a Dell PC with Windows Vista pre-installed.

At first, he was thrilled with his purchase. He could not believe how much faster the new machine was. His only lament was that he had waited as long as he did before upgrading.

Within a few days, however, his mood had changed. "I returned the computer," he told me — with a sheepish look on his face. I was a bit surprised. Naturally, I wanted to know what had happened.

The first glitch was when he found that he couldn't run his copy of FileMaker Pro 8 on his new PC. He was told that, in order to work under Vista, he would need to upgrade to FileMaker Pro 9. He did -- at a cost of almost $200.

Next, he discovered that his old HP printer wouldn't work with his new PC. Once again, the problem was a Vista conflict. The old driver for his printer was not compatible with Vista –– and HP did not intend to release an updated Vista-compatible driver. The advised solution was to get a new printer -- at a cost of another $200.

Then came the last straw. He has two monitors, each a different brand. They both worked fine in tandem when connected to his old PC running XP. However, on his new Vista machine, he could only get one of them to work at a time. He was eventually told that Vista only permits dual displays if the two monitors are of the same or similar brand -- and thus use the same driver software. His choice at this point was to get a new monitor or return his new PC. He chose the latter.

If you're thinking this is where he switches to a Mac, you'd be wrong. He stuck with Dell. However, he wound up getting what Dell claimed to be the only PC they sell that still ships with XP.

My neighbor did not give up on Windows. At least not yet. He did say sayonara to Vista though. In this regard, his travails fit nicely with Apple's recent "I'm a Mac" ads.

To be fair to Vista, some simpler, less expensive, solutions may have been possible (such as a universal driver for the printer or displays). I don't know. And, although they happen less often, similar problems can happen with a Mac.

Still, listening to my neighbor's woes with Vista, I couldn't help thinking that I should have him contact Apple. Maybe he could replace John Hodgman as the PC in Apple's ads.