Tom Yager stuck in 1983

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Macintosh, Technology
March 15th, 2007 • 9:58 am

I had to double-check when I first found this article titled “Mac sense and nonsense” on the InfoWorld web site. Is the date really March 14, 2007?

As far as I can tell, Tom Yager is a PC columnist who has been around for a while and should really have more than enough experience of both PCs and Macs. It is therefore simply flabbergasting to find him writing something like this:

In Windows, every document that isn’t nested inside a parent window (Visual Studio is a good example of nested windows) is presented as a separate instance of the application. Each distinct document has its own window and menu bar, and when you close the last open document, the application exits. In contrast, each document that is opened by a given Mac application is shown in a menuless window. In fact, no windows have menus. They all share one menu bar across the top of the screen, and that menu flips depending on which application has focus (is “on top”). When you close the last document in a given Mac application, the app stays open, but with no visible windows. All you see is the menu. What sense does that make?

Published on March 14, 2007… Tom Yager, hello? Are you there? Do you realize that, if the Mac approach to running applications was really as nonsensical as you allege, surely someone in charge would have found out by now and, like, fixed it?

I really find it quite shocking that a seemingly respectable and respected PC columnist can still write such drivel in 2007—and present it as if it were a major news-breaking discovery: Long-time PC columnist tries to switch to Mac! Is shocked to discover that the OS does not quit applications when all document windows are closed! Whoa!

Whoa indeed.

9 Responses to “Tom Yager stuck in 1983”

  1. Moltz says:

    I think he’s presented it in a rather clumsy manner, but it’s roughly accurate. All he’s trying to say is that in Windows the menus are tied to the window and on the Mac they’re in the menu bar. I don’t think one necessarily makes more sense than the other. Oh, who am I kidding? I think the Mac way makes more sense. But I know that trying to explain the Mac way to switchers draws a lot of blank stares.

    Also, Yager switched to the Mac a few years ago by my recollection and has been a pretty big proponent of it since then. He runs a blog promoting the use of Macs in enterprise environments:

  2. Pierre Igot says:

    If Tom Yager has been using the Mac for years, he has even less of an excuse here. But presumably his focus is not on UI issues. Which is probably why he shouldn’t have written this column in the first place. :-)

    I too think that the Mac way makes more sense, of course. I hate having to wait for applications to load. And of course the fact that the menu bar is a fixed target that is easy to reach from anywhere on the screen, rather than a moving one with no screen border to bump against is an obvious benefit. It’s amazing how PC users cannot understand this. I guess people need a RSI or something like that to really realize how much of their mouse dragging activity is a total waste of time.

    Thanks for the link :).

  3. flintwall says:

    Ermm… sotto voce fellas

  4. Dan Charles says:


    Tom Yager is InfoWorld’s Mac columnist, writing among other things the “Enterprise Mac” blog for them.

    I think you have missed something here, either because you didn’t read the article carefully, because you didn’t read the series of articles of which this is the second, or because Mr. Yager failed to clearly express himself.

    Ready, here goes…

    Mr. Yager was not expressing his dismay on the differences between Macs and Windows system’s, he was REPORTING on the SWITCH to the Mac that SOMEONE ELSE (not Mr. Yager) was in the process of doing. The problems and confusions were not Mr. Yager’s problems or confusions, they were the problems and confusions that SOMEONE ELSE was having with the switch. The OTHER PERSON was a long time Windows user that was BEING FORCED TO SWITCH by Mr. Yager–and was confused by the behavior of the Mac.

    I think it is pretty clear if you simply read the subtitle of the article and its last paragraph…

    SUBTITLE: “A Windows professional finds the Mac to be irresistible until she launches application”

    LAST PARAGRAPH: “These are small conceptual hurdles that she’ll overcome with time, but on each occasion that the Mac “gets in her way” with issues such as these, she heads back to Windows to get her work done. As it turns out, the problems that I’ve described are nothing compared to the impasse she’s hit now. She’s discovering that there are things Windows does that the Mac cannot. This story is far from finished.”

    In the prior article, you learn that the person on which he is reporting, who is having some problems with the switch from Windows to the Mac, is a workmate of his who was switched almost against her will by Mr. Yager–in part to study the issues related to switching in the workplace.

    As a Mac software developer and IT consultant specializing in mixed Mac-Windows corporate environments, I find this series to be informative and helpful.

    Hope this helps clear things up for you. (Dan rapidly applies protective gear, but not anti-virus software because he is using a Mac)

  5. Pierre Igot says:

    Dan: I respectfully disagree with your interpretation of the article here. Tom Yager is not just quoting someone else’s reaction. For one thing, he is not using quotation marks, and he’s not attributing his statements to her. The paragraph that starts with “That’s when the Mac seems to stop making sense” is presented as his own views. And he makes no effort to try and explain (either to her or to the reader) that this Mac way of doing things actually does make sense. When he asks, “What sense does that make?,” he fails to provide an answer to that question, thereby clearly giving the impression that he agrees with the view that the Mac approach is nonsensical.

    The fact that he then goes on to describe this as a “small conceptual hurdle” in the last paragraph (now very clearly his own words) also confirms that he does not seem to grasp the fact that this is indeed a pretty big conceptual difference between the Mac and the PC, and that there are very strong conceptual justifications for the Mac approach.

    Whether or not he ultimately agrees with his colleague as much as he seems to in this article, he is clearly guilty here of failing to provide a balanced and insightful account of the situation.

  6. danridley says:

    “That’s when Windows seems to stop making sense. In Mac OS X, every document that is opened by a given application is shown in a menuless window. In fact, no windows have menus. They all share one menu bar across the top of the screen, and that menu flips depending on which application has focus. In contrast, every document in Windows is presented as a separate instance of the application. Each distinct document has its own window and menu bar, and when you close the last open document, the application exits! What sense does that make?”

  7. HandyMac says:

    This all reminds me of when I studied French in school. Did you know that in French, an adjective is placed after the noun it modifies, instead of before, where it belongs? What sense does that make?

    While it’s nice to see the Mac gaining some market share (maybe if it gets over 10% they’ll spare us some of the constant harping on that issue), one inevitable consequence is an increase in complaints from switchers that the Mac is — *gasp* — different from Windows. Who would’a thought?

    Certainly nobody should be forced to use a Mac.

    I lived in Tucson for a while a couple of decades back. Tucson’s population has grown by nearly twenty times in the last sixty years, mostly from Midwesterners fleeing harsh winters and (many of them) the clouds of allergy-inducing pollens produced by all that greenery. After a while, however, the immigrants became a little homesick, and started planting familiar flowers and shrubs (which quickly drained the subsurface aquifer dry, producing numerous sinkholes in the area where the land has collapsed into the caverns that used to be full of water). Now Tucson has a higher pollen count than Des Moines.

  8. Pierre Igot says:

    HM: The limitations of your French/English analogy are there is nothing intrinsically better about one vs. the other. Whereas when it comes to the positioning of the menu bar, there are demonstrated benefits to having it in a fixed location easily reached with the mouse.

    It’s a bit more like arguing that imperial units are better than the metric system. :-)

  9. Mike Lauder says:

    Pierre, you really should have quoted the preceding paragraph also, as the one quoted directly follows on from that introduction. In the preceding paragraph it clearly tells you that it is the ‘experienced Windows pro’ who is having the difficulties described, when they ‘start firing up other applications’.

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