Does Apple Belong In The Workplace?

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Products such as Parallels Desktop Switch to Mac Edition have enabled Apple to compete in a Windows-dominated corporate world, but Mac penetration remains departmental rather than company-wide

My experience with Apple systems has shown that Mac desktop and notebook systems are still a departmental—rather than an enterprise—concern for IT managers. Macs are deployed primarily to high-value employees who are using advanced content production applications. They are also deployed to senior executives who want a little “wow” prestige when they walk into a meeting. I haven’t talked with any IT managers who are making the decision to deploy Mac systems for the general work force.

My 2009 Mac experience also was propelled by the idea that Windows users might consider switching to OS X with the release of Windows 7. I’ve used a number of tools to make my Mac work more effectively in a Windows-oriented workplace with products created to encourage the “switching” frenzy, including virtualisation tools that support Windows virtual machines running on a Mac system.

Using Parallels Desktop Switch to Mac Edition, for example, moving all of my applications and data to a VM on my MacBook Pro was a nearly seamless experience. The several hours of “click to learn” instruction that comes in the Parallels product makes it well worth the price of admission ($99, £61) for new Mac users. In fact, if Parallels Desktop Switch to Mac Edition had been available when I started this journey, my transition would have been far less painful.

The fact that I can run a Windows VM to access my email and calendar with Outlook was critical to my ability to use a Mac at work. (It also helped that I switched from using Microsoft Office to Google Docs as my main word processing environment.)

Given the current crush of cloud computing attention—and the constant drumbeat to decouple hardware from the OS and applications—it will be interesting to watch Apple’s further progress. If I’ve learned anything thus far, it’s that the Apple way means a “till-death-do-us-part” marriage of its hardware and OS.

My vow: to continue to test whether and when this marriage makes sense in the workplace.