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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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