I can't stand Apple. The slavish devotion of a small number of people to this company astounds me for one simple reason: in my admittedly limited experience, their products suck.
Now I understand that Apple has, on the whole, been much more innovative than Microsoft. I know it came up with the first graphical OS that inspired Windows. And I know its products are particularly useful in graphic design and some other creative pursuits.
But despite brilliant marketing and design that have helped make it so popular (along with the innovation of iTunes), the iPod itself, the actual product, is a piece of crap. I got mine just a year and a half ago and it is already barely workable. The battery is totally erratic and usually runs out in less than an hour after it's charged. And the battery drains immediately when I plug it into my computer. So I literally can't load new music onto it.
It also freezes on a regular basis, necessitating my rebooting it in the obscure way you have to find on the Apple website. It has crashed twice, erasing all my music.
So basically in a little over a year, I have a product that only works with the music on it and only when it is plugged in (so I can connect it to my stereo when it's plugged in, but that's about it.
I know that thanks to a lawsuit, Apple is now offering to replace iPods with fucked up batteries like mine. But because I got mine gratis from Apple as a tech journalis, I don't have the proof or purchase to take advantage of the offer. Now obviously I'm not asking for any tears about poor Ben and his defective iPod he didn't pay for. But that doesn't make me any less pleased that Apple made such a piece of shit product.
As for Macs, I had one in college and bought an iBook as my first computer out of college. They both took forever to load and froze or crashed regularly. In comparison, Windows XP, which almost never crashes and is faster, is a joy. (I have heard that OS X is better, but Apple has already lost me and I'm not going back).
It seems lame to be "committed" to Microsoft, but I am, at least for computer electronics. I'm plannign to get a new digital music player for my birthday, but definitely not an iPod. I want one of the many Windows Media devices that work just as well (if not better), but aren't going to crash or run out of battery power in a year.
Plus, the Windows devices work with Rhapsody to Go or Napster to Go. For $15 a month you get over a million songs. That's such a better deal than 99 cents per song that it's absurd. And I don't even buy very much music (maybe an album per month). But it's still well worth it. And I know I'm going to try a lot more music that I would never both with now that the marginal cost is zero. (I already do with the 25 free songs per month on Rhapsody, which I highly recommend trying).