Henrico students ‘excited’ to have Dells after four years with ‘hated’ Apple iBooks

“Mills Godwin senior Anne Harmer had barely opened her new Dell Inspiron 600M laptop computer last week, but already she was excited,” Tom Lappas reports for The Henrico Citizen. “Harmer, one of thousands of public high school students in Henrico who received the new laptops when they returned to school this month, was glad to be rid of her Apple iBook. High school students in Henrico had used iBooks for the past four years, but the county’s School Board voted to switch vendors last spring. It signed a four-year contract with Dell in April.”

“‘I never really got used to the iBooks,’ Harmer said, while logging into the school’s server for the first time. ‘Apples haven’t really caught on yet. I have a PC at home, so I’m comfortable using them. I think most people are.’ With a few scattered exceptions, the deployment of Dells during the past week at each of Henrico’s high schools went smoothly. ‘If you compare this year to the first year [of the iBooks],” HCPS Director of Technology Lloyd Brown said, “there’s no comparison. We have not seen any red flags on our end that say we’re having difficulty,'” Lappas reports.

“The response of several Godwin classes to the new machines was positive last week,” Lappas reports. “Sophomore Brock Shiflett said that many of his classmates had problems with their iBooks but said he didn’t expect much difficulty with the Dells. Senior Travis Heit went a step further and said that he ‘hated’ the iBooks. ‘When I studied for tests, I didn’t use my iBook,’ Heit said. But he expects to incorporate his Dell into his studies this year.”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Does this sound like a Dell press release or what? Hands up: how many people do you know that have gone from Windows to Mac OS X and, no matter how comfortable they were with Windows, could be described as “excited” at the prospect of going back to Windows because they “hated” the Mac?

Really, now. Yes, we are a “Mac News” website. Yes, we believe Mac OS X is vastly superior to Windows XP. Yes, we are pro-Mac and anti-Windows. All that said, from our experience, Lappas’ article just doesn’t ring true. Not even close. It simply doesn’t match reviews of Apple Macs running Mac OS X and comparisons to Windows (see related articles below) from even Windows-centric media outlets (including, of all people, Paul Thurrott and John Dvorak, for crying out loud!) and it doesn’t match almost anybody’s experience of which we’ve ever heard.

What do you think is really going on in Henrico?

In March 2005, the same reporter, Tom Lappas, for the same Henrico Citizen, reported, “The first comprehensive study of the groundbreaking Apple iBook initiative in Henrico County’s public schools shows that most students want the laptop program to continue… The survey found that 90 percent of families have another family computer at home, and that 92 percent of those computers are Windows-based. The survey found lukewarm support for the Apple operating system; 54 percent of parents would prefer a Windows-based system for their children, while only 12 percent favor Apple. High-school students also favor Windows over Apple, 51 percent to 24 percent, but middle-schoolers prefer Apple 41 percent to 36 percent. Teachers were split at 34 percent apiece, while administrators showed the strongest support for Apple, selecting it over Windows 66 percent to 8 percent. Surveys were completed by about 80 percent of all students, 81 percent of teachers and 69 percent of administrators.” Full article here.

In our “MacDailyNews Take” regarding that article, we wrote at the time, “The younger students, perhaps more open to change, favor the Mac, as do the administrators. This bodes well for Apple’s Mac platform’s future. There may be a resistance to change in people who are long-time Windows users or are very familiar with Windows or there may be some students who want the latest games or any number of other interesting reasons for the survey’s results. The survey states favor for Windows or the Mac, but the article doesn’t explain the reasons why some prefer one OS or the other.”

Are some people really so steeped in Windows’ mediocrity that it overrides even a superior, but initially unfamiliar Mac OS X experience? And why do we keep thinking that what this is really all about are some students’ desire to play computer games on their school laptops?

Related MacDailyNews articles:
Dell VP on Henrico’s switch from Mac OS X iBooks with to Windows XP Dells: ‘a computer’s a computer’ – September 22, 2005
After dropping Macs, Henrico officials work to protect students’ new Dells from viruses – August 30, 2005
Woman wets herself to keep place in line for $50 Apple iBooks – August 16, 2005
Apple continues to lead in customer satisfaction, Dell loses more ground – August 16, 2005
Henrico citizens stampede for $50 Apple iBooks – August 16, 2005
Henrico closes $50 Apple iBook sale to general public; only Henrico residents can buy – August 03, 2005
Henrico moves $50 Apple iBook sale to Richmond International Raceway due overwhelming demand – July 28, 2005
Apple announces 30,000 iBooks deal with Florida’s Broward County Public Schools – July 27, 2005
Henrico residents object to public sale of Apple iBooks – July 26, 2005
Henrico County Public Schools to sell Apple 12-inch iBooks for $50 each on August 9th – July 25, 2005
Henrico blasted for choosing Dell laptops with Windows XP over Apple iBooks with Mac OS X Tiger – May 09, 2005
Henrico school officials on Apple to Dell switch: The logo will change, but the tool is the same – April 30, 2005
Henrico school board dumps Apple Macs, picks Dells with Windows – April 29, 2005
Henrico County Apple iBook plan in jeopardy? – April 02, 2005
Survey shows support for Henrico iBook program with ‘lukewarm support’ for Apple’s Mac OS X – March 07, 2005
Henrico poll finds students are using iBooks successfully – February 11, 2005
Henrico iBooks raise concerns among some parents – May 28, 2004
Henrico high school laptop program to continue, but will it still feature Apple Macs? – February 24, 2005
More schools experience Windows virus, worm problems while Macs just keep working – August 22, 2003
A tale of two school systems: Windows schools crippled while Mac schools unaffected – August 21, 2003

Thurrott: Microsoft’s Windows Vista Beta 1 vs. Apple’s Mac OS X Tiger – August 29, 2005
Dvorak: Mac OS X is already better than Windows, Vista may be end of line for Microsoft’s dominance – July 26, 2005
Thurrott: Apple Macs offer a safer computing experience than Microsoft Windows PCs – July 20, 2005
Thurrott on spyware: ‘we should have paid more attention to those Apple Switcher ads after all’ – July 08, 2005
Apple to unleash Leopard on Microsoft’s Windows Longhorn; Mac OS X 10.5 due late 2006 – early 2007 – June 07, 2005
PC World names Apple’s Mac OS X Tiger ‘Best Operating System’ – June 01, 2005
Apple’s Mac OS X Tiger ‘is the most advanced operating system on the planet’ – May 31, 2005
TrustedReviews: After using Mac OS X Tiger ‘going back to Windows XP is something of a joke at best’ – May 18, 2005
The Butler Group: ‘Apple’s Mac OS X Tiger the best desktop operating system in the world to date’ – May 13, 2005
BBC News: Apple’s Mac OS X Tiger ‘the most stable and reliable OS, well ahead of Windows XP’ – May 10, 2005
Windows tech writer Thurrott: ‘In many ways, Mac OS X Tiger is simply better than Windows’ – May 07, 2005
BusinessWeek: ‘Tiger bolsters Mac OS X’s edge as the best personal-computer operating system’ – May 06, 2005
The Guardian: Mac OS X Tiger a powerful solution while Microsoft’s Longhorn remains on drawing board – May 06, 2005
Chicago Sun-Times: Mac OS X Tiger shows ‘there’s never been a more compelling time to switch to Mac’ – May 05, 2005
Dan Gillmor: ‘With Mac OS X Tiger, Apple is plainly in the lead today’ – May 05, 2005
Jupiter Research VP: Apple’s Mac OS X Tiger ‘runs rings around Microsoft Windows’ – May 04, 2005
The Independent: Apple’s ‘faster, smarter, simpler’ Mac OS X Tiger ‘a must-have’ – May 04, 2005
Mac OS X Tiger review for a Windows PC audience finds Tiger’s ‘far, far better than Windows XP’ – May 03, 2005
Boston Herald: Mac OS X Tiger should compel Windows PC users to think about switching to Apple Mac – May 02, 2005
PC World review gives Apple’s Mac OS X Tiger 4.5 stars out of 5 – April 30, 2005
Associated Press: Mac OS X Tiger ‘provides another excellent incentive to switch from Windows’ – April 28, 2005
Mossberg: Apple’s Tiger ‘the best, most advanced personal computer operating system on the market’ – April 28, 2005
NY Times: Apple’s Mac OS X Tiger is the most secure, stable and satisfying OS on earth – April 28, 2005
Thurrott: ‘Longhorn is in complete disarray and in danger of collapsing under its own weight’ – April 27, 2005
Windows is weak, Longhorn will be cosmetic upgrade; Apple can deliver killer blow to Microsoft – April 27, 2005
Thurrott: Longhorn ‘has the makings of a train wreck’ – April 26, 2005
Thurrott: Longhorn demos ‘unimpressive, fall short of graphical excellence found today in Mac OS X’ – April 26, 2005


  1. “I hated the iBooks. When I studied for tests, I didn’t use my iBook, but I expect to incorporate my Dell into my studies this year.”


    “The Apple iBooks couldn’t play Windows games, so I hated it. I’ll tell my parents, teachers, and local newspaper columnists that I’ll use my Dell much more for my studies, but I’ll really be stuffing it to the brim with pirated games from my friends.”

  2. I see this as a learning opportunity. It took me a long time to warm up to Macs. In fact, I went back and forth from Mac to Windows 3 times. OS 9 and earlier were terrible, unstable and visually awful. The problem with Macs, in the eyes of students, probably has something to do with one-button mice, awkward application locating and launching, the usual lack of software (especially games), sluggish performance, no snap to programs, and microscopic popularity in a Windows-dominated world. Now, you and I know better, but the students are a reflection of the future perception of Macs. We need to learn, not scowl. I suspect there is some truth to the article. There’s a good reason Macs are going to Intel and multi-button mice–attracting Windows users. Macs are kewl, but many aspects of fun and productive computing (except graphic arts) are anemic at this time. Things will change, but only if we learn from our critics. It’s all about listening to your customer, and anyone involved in marketing will tell you that the negative comments are invaluable to the development of a product. My 2 cents.

  3. Not to downplay the whole “games angle”, but as a recent grad, I can say that MSN is more important to most students, and Apple’s MSN and MSN clones didn’t, and despite alternatives and a recent MSN update, still don’t compare. Food for thought….

  4. In my high school, the only Macs in the school are the eMacs (new this year) used for Final Cut Express editing in the Film & TV Dept. This year, the software was upgraded to Mac OS X v. 10.4, and FCE 2.0, but the result has been nothing but problematic.

    The program not only crashes frequently (which can most probably be attributed to idiots not saving often enough) but also manages to somehow lose entire portions of video, unable to be retrieved even by the Mac-trained IT Dept. In an all-Apple solution (hardware, OS, software), should this be happening?

    My fellow students have gotten over their initial amazement with the Dock magnification, overall UI friendliness etc and now all I ever hear from the Mac Lab is how much people hate them.

    I realise eMacs are not the most desireable video-editing hardware (even with 1Gig RAM), but we survived on Graphite iMac DV’s with Jaguar and Adobe Premier until the end of ’04, so why should things have become more difficult with the upgrade? Not only do people lose work, but Safari cannot open a single webpage without asking the user for their keychain password, and countless other minor annoyances. Couple these with the fact that by default, the Dock is set to highest level of Mag and is full with unused apps, to the 95% of students not otherwise familiar with Mac OS X, this is a very unusable and unfriendly system.

    I must say this does nothing when I am trying to convince people that Macs are better, if all they do is lose hours and hours of people’s editing efforts. Anyway, my point is that perhaps Apple still has a ways to go in terms of improving Mac usability in the school environment, for whatever reason. The sentiments raised in the article above, while disregarded by most here no doubt, are very much like those in my school.

  5. Um, instead of hating on an article for finding that people actually do dislike Macs (it is possible, you know), perhaps it is interesting as a study. For example, why are high schoolers spurning Macs when things like iTunes and iPhoto should be their primary programs? Perhaps Apple should consider ways to make Mac OS X more accessible to people who are big into the computing scene but old enough that they aren’t interested in learning a new operating system.

    Stop saying a guy is lying if he doesn’t like a Mac. Let’s start asking “why.”

  6. It’s still too early to see what the outcome will be on this. I bet that students was excited to get new laptops no matter what they said on them. After the newness peels off and the students get his with mass malware and what ever new virus the fuzzy feeling will turn into question “why did we switch to a dell laptop again?”

    The same three students that this guy interviewed will turn to 2-1 wishing that they had the iBooks back because they didn’t have to deal with this crap.

    The Teachers will go in a uproar when they loose a entire day of class because the IT department is fixing the entire student body, teachers and administrators laptops. Oh I can’t wait to read that article!

  7. hey face it the mac reality distortion field dont extend beyond this site……

    most people dont see the details mac heads adore and it only takes your emac to crash a couple of times losing valuble viseo or your ipod battery or scren to fail for the agnostics to think to hell with this……..

  8. What do I think?

    I think given some time, the kids would wish they had their iBooks back because at least they would work all the time.

    I think some might welcome the change to another platform, and given some time with suffering with it, might forever switch back to a Mac.

    So let them do what they want, with a iBook going for $1000 and a cheap Dell laptop going for $500, it made sense for the school to switch.

    After all it seems the school wants not a computer that lasts and have value for the long-term, since it’s kids they more likely want something more cheaper and disposable, like a PC.

    Since the kids are ruining them anyway, why waste a good $1000 iBook when they can waste a $500 PC?

    Apple Mac’s offer a slightly higher price usually, but offer greater long-term value, as long as they are taken care of.

    You know there isn’t really anything we can do about it, smart folks buy Mac’s and dumb ones buy PC’s.

    We will most likely always be the minority platform, the damage to Apple was done by John Scully long ago.

    All I hope for is that I can continue using Mac’s, and with Apple creating new devices and markets to make money, Mac’s will always survive.

    Microsoft may have won on the desktop, but as long as Apple is alive I will buy their equipment because I deserve the very best. 😀

    M$ needs Apple alive, to show the world they are not a monopoly, it’s a enemy they know and can copy their ideas.

    Apple won’t separate it’s OS from the hardware, has a vertical business model which is better in some ways, but not attractive to some.

    Apple is our company, it’s for us and not for everyone else.

    Let them suffer with viruses, trojans and malware.

  9. Using eMac’s for professional level programs is STUPID

    But then I guess it’s only a school where the intention is to gain familiarity with the industry software, not train professionals for the job market.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.