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  • Five Bogus Reasons to Ditch the Mac!

    April 1st, 2008

    I realize that there are a whole lot of subjective factors that go into choosing which personal computer to buy, and, also, which computing platform to use. Sometimes you’re forced into it, such as using Windows in an office environment that’s standardized on the platform and requires applications that are exclusive to that operating system. No doubt that are people who are required to use Macs, but have other priorities.

    So, on the surface, I wasn’t surprised to read an article in InfoWorld entitled “Five reasons to ditch the Mac and return to PCs,” which details the sad tale of one Timothy Keanini, chief technology officer of nCircle, who, or so the story says, “loves Macs.”

    Now, as I said, I’m not one to attack someone’s taste, even if I don’t agree with their preferences. But when someone is a CIO for a company, you’d think they would use a modicum of logic before coming to so drastic a conclusion as to abandon a particular brand of personal computer.

    So why did Keanini give up on Macs?

    Reason Number One: He casts aspersions about the alleged difficulty of integrating Macs into his network and having to engineer “workarounds” for efficient workflow. Alas, we don’t know precisely what problems he encountered, at least not yet, or whether using Boot Camp or a virtual machine, such as Parallels Desktop or VMWare Fusion, would have addressed these problems. Maybe there were better ideas, but we don’t know because the article doesn’t tell us, but we soon learn about those “workarounds.”

    Reason Number Two: This one is doubly suspicious. It seems they had troubles converting documents to Microsoft Office and syncing Exchange calendars. Since Office 2007 for Windows and Office 2008 are file compatible, just where did Keanini get the idea there would be file conversion issues? Oh yes, they used Keynote, one of the applications from iWork, and it wouldn’t convert properly to PowerPoint. If that was the biggest problem, why not use the Mac version of Office in the first place? Indeed Entourage 2008 offers pretty decent compatibility with Exchange, so it appears the integration problem here was the fault of Keanini and crew for not deploying Microsoft Office on both platforms.

    Reason Number Three: There’s no Microsoft One Note equivalent on the Mac. All right this isn’t even worth arguing about. It’s just too pathetic.

    Reason Number Four: Referring to some sort of “Hotel California” syndrome, Keanini rants again about the problems converting documents from one platform to another. This sounds like a repetition of reason number two, and the answer is the same. Why didn’t he think of using Office on the Mac for maximum compatibility? Maybe only his hairdresser knows for sure, because his explanation is non-existent.

    Reason Number Five: This one may have a modicum of truth attached to it. Seems their MacBook Pros ran hot, at least in contrast to a Lenovo ThinkPad. Perhaps, but Apple issued several SMC releases to optimize fan performance on their Intel-based note-books, which reduced heat generation for most of you. Frankly, I don’t regard my MacBook Pro, a first-generation model, as particularly hot, but I’ll grant, without actually testing one, that the ThinkPad may indeed run cooler. But since Keanini seems oblivious to the existence of Microsoft Office on the Mac, perhaps his perceptions about heat generation issues are equally suspect. The other thing that occurs to me: Were these ThinkPads newer models, older ones, with comparable specs?

    In the end, there really aren’t five reasons involved in this decision. There are three, the most important of which would have most likely been resolved simply by purchasing Office for the Mac. I can’t account for Keanini’s perceptions about excessive heat generation, not having a comparable Lenovo note-book to try. Maybe he never got around to updating his Mac note-books, for the same reason that he was evidently unaware that there is such a thing as the Mac Business Unit at Microsoft and the products that highly-profitable division builds.

    In a way, this is a sad story. We have a person who is the CIO of a company who lives in a world of ignorance, and thus reaches a decision that, in the end, strikes me as particularly ill-advised. Maybe he should examine the published reports of productivity between Macs and Windows PCs and see just how his company would fare had he done the Mac switch in a proper fashion.

    This isn’t to say that dumping PCs and going wholesale to Macs is necessarily a simple process. Even though the Mac supposedly “just works,” there is a learning curve involved when moving from Windows to Mac OS X. Some features, such as the monolithic menu bar on the Mac, might confuse the Windows user for a time. However, since most applications available on both platforms work pretty much the same, it shouldn’t take more than a few days to become accustomed to the Mac OS.

    Indeed, there might also be some issues involved in networking with Windows servers too, but proper planning ought to make this a fairly straightforward process.

    My conclusion: If I was looking for a CIO to manage a large computer network, it would certainly not be Timothy Keanini, since his presence in IT management is, unfortunately, a terrific argument for outsourcing.



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    10 Responses to “Five Bogus Reasons to Ditch the Mac!”

    1. Andrew says:

      Another possible explanation could be that he decided to ditch his Macs before the release of Office 2008, in which case it was, for a brief number of months, based on true deficiencies. Office 2004 was and remains incompatible with the new Office 2007/8 file formats, and Entourage 2004 never handled Exchange well.

      Yes, Office 2008 solves file format and most Exchange issues, but introduces new compatibility issues with its abandoning of Virtual Basic. Getting Exchange to work in Entourage 2008 isn’t simple either. I got it working in my office, but it took a tech support call to Microsoft’s expensive ($250 per incident) server group to do so. The Office for Mac support group expressly excludes Exchange from the scope of the assistance they will provide, even though the version of Office I bought (the full $400 version) states right on the box that it works with Exchange.

      Networking to Windows machines works well at the Workgroup level, but has issues when dealing with Windows Server domains. Yes, it can be done, but it is anything but simple. My Tiger Macs work just fine, but my Leopard Macs all have issues where they will lose their ability to save to a folder on a Windows server. After five support calls to Apple and one (again expensive) one to Microsoft, I got fed up and bought a program called “Dave” by Thursby, that made it finally work reliably without actually binding my Mac to the Domain, a process that made my machine lock up at the gray boot screen.

      Yes, Macs can be made to work in a Windows IT environment, and in a small workgroup environment they will work as well or better than a Windows box. But anyone who thinks a Mac can just be a drop-in replacement for a Windows box in a corporate environment is in for a few surprises.

      That said, I think its worth the hassles, and as my PCs age and reach their upgrade cycle, they are being replaced by Macs. This is after having to migrate the other way when I replaced Dot Mac calendar and an informal Mac Workgroup with a Windows Small Business Server. that server too, will be replaced at the end of its (hopefully longer) service life by a Leopard or OS X 10.6 server, now that Apple finally has calendar sharing in its server system.

    2. Michael says:

      I suppose he may have had some problems integrating machines. I doubt it was anything insurmountable. Perhaps he didn’t want to make the effort.

      I suppose many business customers are tied into stuff like Exchange. Even Microsoft’s own Entourage doesn’t work that well with Exchange. But perhaps this is something people should be thinking about. Is it wise to tie oneself into products that aren’t, and to be quite frank aren’t meant to be, interoperable? I think small to medium businesses should be looking very hard at what Apple, and the Linux vendors, have to offer.

      I hope people are looking at the shenanigans over Microsoft’s new file formats, noting the irregularities in the voting, and twigging *why* Microsoft is doing this:

      http://www.linuxjournal.com/content/microsofts-great-besmirching

      Those who are going to lash themselves to someone else’s chariot wheels had better be prepared to keep running alongside.

    3. Scott Schaefer says:

      Ummm… this article was clearly an April fool’s joke. This was made clear by the inability for an IT professional to export email from Apple’s mail.. either he is incompetent or this article is a joke. But the kicker for me is that ANY Chief ANYTHING Officer of a company has time to play games at home on a PC — if he has any children — it is even a bigger joke.

      Nice April Fool’s article

    4. Ummm… this article was clearly an April fool’s joke. This was made clear by the inability for an IT professional to export email from Apple’s mail.. either he is incompetent or this article is a joke. But the kicker for me is that ANY Chief ANYTHING Officer of a company has time to play games at home on a PC — if he has any children — it is even a bigger joke.

      Nice April Fool’s article

      I wondered about that, but the article is still posted, and the company he purportedly represents is real. So, I fear the real joke is on him, since this is evidently at true story.

      Peace,
      Gene

    5. Gary Harrison says:

      As a long-time mac users, I do have to agree that he raises issues worth considering. Office for Mac does not fully integrate into an Exchange environment. To do so, we have to run Parallels and use Outlook, which does add a layer of complexity (you now have to manage two OS’s instead of one). I and my boss are currently doing that as we try to introduce Mac’s into a 80+ windows office. And yes, we have tweaked a LOT to get it operational.

      Don’t dismiss the OneNote issue – I live on it, and there is no adequate substitute in the Mac world. Circus Ponies “Notebook” comes the closest , but it’s not the same. Evernote is introducing a cross-platform solution that may give OneNote a run for its money, but time will tell. If you manage a lot of disconnected info, especially in a highly mobile fashion, OneNote is simply the best solution (especially since you can sync OneNote folders across several machines).

      I love my Mac, and in the non-profit I run we are an all Mac shop (except for the Tablet PC I use). But Apple seems to treat enterprise issues as an afterthought, and until they take it more seriously, I can understand why IT folks, including CIO’s, might find them more trouble than they are worth.

    6. slappy says:

      Well he should have been more detailed with his document issues. For the most part Office for the Mac ( hobbled by MS ) works pretty good. You’ll have issues once Windows Metafiles are embeded in the documents from Windows users. Excel files, specially complex ones with lots of VBS will be a headache. Otherwise its not that hard to integrate into a Windows Centric Mac Hating Office environment. 😉

    7. Weili says:

      My department of 10 people are the only ones who use Macs in the whole office but we have been able to co-exist with Exchange and other PCs without any serious issues for 3 years now.

      With the release of Microsoft Office 2008 things are even better, especially with Entourage’s compatibility with Exchange.

    8. This reminds me of the character Dustin Hoffman played in Tootsie. He was an actor who was trying to stage a play about a family that moved back to Love Canal, the hopelessly and dangerously polluted housing project, because it was all the family knew.

      Welcome back to Windows!

    9. John says:

      Curious comment about Keynote. I live on Keynote and have few problems exporting to ppt. You just have to dumb down the presentation a little to compensate for things that ppt doesn’t do.

      I don’t understand the issue with MS OneNote. I looked it up and read the description and it doesn’t seem that special. However, I can understand that once you become familiar with something it can be hard to let go.

    10. Damon Howarth says:

      I am a new mac convert- all my old PC stuff is now donated to worthy individuals and Im trying to continue life as before.
      Everything is fine – I have VMware Fusion running for those little bumps and in utility mode it does fine.
      Now the rub is- I want Expression web or something as near to it as possible on a mac I don’t want pretty folders to publish to .mac I dont want to hand code. I may have to return to dreamweaver (which i used prior to Expression) on the pcs but its MX and Expression does everything so much better. Try xml data basing, its is far easier.
      Is there anything out there for a mac in native mode to replace Expression web. I like being able to edit online for those small changes. I like WySiWyg and really I web and Ssandvox and Rapid weaver all seem like backward steps and all seem very similar.
      Why can’t the mac have a decent web editor/creator?
      Sorry about the rant. Meanwhile cheers for utility mode in VM ware.
      Oh the macs run everything far more pleasantly than my old dual core PC did.

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