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Walt Mossberg is the author and creator of the weekly Personal Technology column in The Wall Street Journal, which has appeared every Thursday since 1991.  With Kara Swisher, he currently[…]

“Personal computers are just too hard to use and it’s not your fault.”

Walt Mossberg: If you’re 16 and you have a lot of time on your hands, you may want to screw around with trying to fix your Windows when it breaks. If you’re the same person and you’re 25, and you still are not afraid of the computer, and you have a lot of technical knowledge, you suddenly find you have a lot less time on your hands to goof around with it.

And so it isn’t a question of being dumb, or smart, or intimidated, or not intimidated. It’s a question of you bought the laptop. When you open it up, you expect it to come on. You expect it to connect to the Wi-Fi network. You expect it to get you to the website. You expect it to deal with your email. You expect to be able to play your favorite game. You expect it to be able to do Facebook and MySpace.

And at the same time, if you want to or need to, you expect to be able to write a 50-page paper on it. 

That’s what they promise you when they sell you the computer. And they don’t promise you that you’re going to be spending your time dealing with defragging the hard drive and updating the security program and all that other stuff.

And so I have been laser focused on that. The first line of my first column was, “Personal computers are just too hard to use and it’s not your fault.” And I still think that’s true. And I think it’s true for cell phones, which are like personal computers 10 years ago. It’s true for most of these products.


Recorded on: Sep 13, 2007