Joel Spolsky wrote an excellent blog entry on the plethora of options for shutting down Windows Vista — and contrasting that to devices like the iPod, which don’t even have an on/off switch.

Joel references Barry Schwartz’s well-written “The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less,” which explains why many people get frustrated when there are too many options, particularly of things to buy.

I feel that way, for example, when it’s time to get a new Windows desktop for an employee. Our standard vendor is Dell, but just choosing between all the XPS and Dimension and Optiplex models, submodels, form factors and processors gives me a headache.

By contrast, when we need to buy a new desktop Mac, it’s easy: a 20″ iMac, upgrade to 2GB RAM. Done.

I’ll often go into a clothing shop, electronics store, or whatever, knowing exactly what I wanted — and then walk about again, frustrated and empty-handed, because there were too many choices, and I didn’t want to buy the wrong thing.

So, why do I need 15 different ways to tell a Windows laptop that I won’t be using it for a while?

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick