(Sponsor: Lok Technology)
Where life intersects technology, it's best to be a polyglot. Meaning on a simple level: Use Windows XP, and Mac OS X, and Linux, too, if you can. Try command-line interfaces, even if just simple ones, to get an inkling of what's behind GUIs. Use as many browsers as possible in case anyone ever asks you to compare and contrast Firefox, Internet Explorer, Opera, Safari, and Lynx (sorry if I didn't mention your favorite).
You get the idea. Partly it's just about expanding one's experience and technological literacy. Partly it's about simply satisfying curiosity. But to a large extent -- and this ain't a newsflash -- the consumer technology world isn't very receptive to polyglots. One's extra-sensitive to this if one's primary choice for computing is an Apple product (my current machine of choice is the smallest iBook available, which packs more than enough computing power for my simple needs. I realized when I bought it last summer that I'd be sacrificing access to some Windows-only applications; but, given that my main needs in a machine were for word-processing, photo handling, and simple communications, I was willing to give up that access in order to see what the latest Macs could do.
And as far as the Mac goes, it's great. But as I said, when you use one you quickly become aware that the world is truly monoglot. Mostly it's an inconvenience: My GPS comes with Windows-only software, for instance; and so does the neat bike computer/heart-rate monitor I use. I can get on my wife's Windows 98 machine to use this stuff; the only XP machine in our domicile is my son's home-built AMD box, so it's off-limits to me.
Why this is frustrating VoIP-wise is this: So much of the innovative stuff one would love to try if Windows only. Two examples today: Jeff Pulver is offering access to his do-it-all Communication application for next week's VON show attendees. But it's XP only. And Teleo, one of Skype's P2P Voip competitors, has a couple features (PSTN call-in, especially) I'd love to try, too. But again, it's Windows (XP and 2000 only).
I know all the reasons -- wait, is there more than just one? that everyone is on the Windows platform, so that's where the money is, and why bother with those other people -- that VoIP (and other) start-ups and developers focus on Windows first and everything else second. But on the other hand, is it possible that by ignoring Mac people at first, they're ignoring exactly the kind of users who might be most valuable: Folks turned on by new, non-traditional stuff, folks willing to take a flyer on technology or approaches that don't already have a mass following.
This is one reason I like Skype: While they didn't serve the Mac audience at first, they took care of business and made it available to Apple types (and Linux and PocketPC users, too) relatively quickly. It's got the polyglot spirit.