Thursday, August 10, 2006

Why aren't businesses switching from Windows to Macs?

I posted this as a comment elsewhere, but then it seemed to disappear into the ether. Since I took 10 minutes writing it I figured I wasn't going to just let it disappear wihtout a fight - so here it is.

I’m another one of those IT guys. Want to know why my company is not switching from Windows to Mac (or Linux for that matter)?

It’s the applications.

Or as Steve Balmer says, “Developers, developers, developers, developers!”

We have over a thousand applications being used at my company.

If we wanted to switch to Mac OS X, we’d have to find Mac versions of those apps, or software with equivalent functionality, and buy the new versions, and get all our users to switch - when they were working well enough in the first place before IT came along to switch them.

We also have tons of web applications - some our own, some bought from vendors and hosted internally, and some bought/rented from vendors and hosted on their websites. Far too many of those require Active X or are otherwise coded specifically for Internet Explorer on Windows.

Saying “use Virtual PC/VMware/Parallels” doesn’t really work for us, because guess what? Then we still have a copy of Windows to pay for, patch, protect against viruses, and so on.

This isn’t because we don’t like Macs. In fact, I’m writing this on a Mac right now, and Macs have been my platform of choice since I bought a Mac SE and learned how to program on it in 1990.

This isn’t because we don’t understand Macs. In fact, for the first several years of my IT career, I had tons of extra opportunities because I am ‘cross-platform’ - I was an Apple-certified technician (and IBM, and HP, and Toshiba, and MCSE) who did hardware repair as well as Mac support & sysadmin work for various Mac-using businesses.

This isn’t because we don’t get that Macs are easier to manage than PC’s. I personally supported far more Macs & Mac users ’soup to nuts’ - from hardware, to software, to building and updating our “Mac image” - than was possible for one Windows tech to support - even with a bunch of specialized people taking care of the necessary infrastructure on the Windows side that I ran myself on the Mac side.

I’ve heard from colleagues at other companies who also found it much cheaper to support Macs and who know they can provide better support to more people with less $$ for tools and fewer technicians. That’s not really up for debate, in my opinion.

But with all our business apps on Windows, how can we switch? How does that help our company make more money?

It doesn’t. And that’s why businesses aren’t switching to Macs.

Could this change?


Green-field companies can now choose to use only software that doesn’t lock them to one particular OS/browser platform; there are now choices out there that weren’t there when most of today’s businesses started making their software decisions.

Some forward-looking businesses are keeping this in mind when selecting new software, and thinking that maybe a decade from now all those “only runs on Windows/IE” apps will finally be retired. (This is why Microsoft is pushing developers so hard to write “Smart Clients” that require the Windows-only .NET Framework. “Developers, developers, developers!”)

And it’s not just me in my IS department who feels this way. TONS of IT people - some long time Mac users, but a surprising number of newcomers - are running Macs at home. And liking it! And I think most of them would agree with everything I’ve written here.

But we’ve got all these Win/IE applications that people at our business need to run….so on Windows we will stay.


No comments:

Post a Comment