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Mac vs PC environments

Posted on 2005-03-01
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One of my clients has been experiencing problems with viruses, etc with his PC-based environment. He is thinking of switching to a Mac environment but is leery of compatibility issues as most of his customers are PC-based. Can anyone shed any light on this?
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Question by:catcooper
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7 Comments
 
LVL 96

Assisted Solution

by:Lee W, MVP
Lee W, MVP earned 75 total points
ID: 13431197
Sounds about right.  I used to work in a mixed environment with both.  It's not pretty - they are two radically  different systems.  You didn't specify what his company did - Advertising, Constructions, Accounting, etc?  This can make a difference.  Or what kind of network they use now - Domain?  Workgroup? Macs have mostly equivalent software, but there are simply more titles out there for a PC.  You can sometimes get around this by using something like Virtual PC.  But keep in mind, you would also have to change all the hardware.

There are simpler ways and less costly for both staff training and hardware/software replacement.  For example:

1.  Use a reliable Antivirus software
2.  Disallow use of Internet Explorer - Use Firefox/Mozilla/Opera
3.  Disallow use of Outlook Express/Outlook - Use Thunderbird/Eudora/Mozilla
4.  Use Windows XP/2000 systems and implement security so people are not administrators on their computers - when a virus or malware has access to a computer as an admin, it can create havoc on the machine.
5.  A more radical solution with a less expensive (than replacing everything) idea would be to switch over to Linux.  Linux (the software) is Free, there are TONS of free software available, and using WINE (Windows Emulator, SOME Windows programs can even run on linux at no additional cost).

By the way, switching off a PC environment could create problems for your client if they use Exchange for email - much of the groupware functionality (when I worked at that last job) didn't exist for Mac - you could still use E-mail and a personal calendar, but shared contacts, etc simply weren't supported.

Most of your problems are centered arround Microsoft's bugs, so if you drop the Microsoft Products, you can have a far more pleasant experience.

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LVL 15

Assisted Solution

by:davidis99
davidis99 earned 75 total points
ID: 13432665
As someone currently supporting a mixed environment (80% PC, 20% Mac) I largely agree with Leew, though I would add some addiional comments.

1) For most standard applications (Microsoft Office, Adobe applications, standard graphics applications) there are Mac versions of the PC applications that work with the same files and should have virtually no problems switching from PC to Mac.  
2) For utility applications (disk utilities, antivirus, antispam, antispyware) there are many fewer commercial or shareware/freeware third party programs for Mac than for Windows, although the commercial applications are equally high in quality on the Mac side as on the PC side.
3) for some standard applications, such as database applications, there are notably fewer programs on the Mac side than on the Windows side, though once again some of the better choices for Mac (such as Filemaker Pro for database) are also available for PC, and can work in either environment (aiding in transition if the environment is mixed during transition.)
4) In regard to the email issues Leew raised, I'd be less concerned about switching even if you're in an Exchange server environment, as the Entourage X and the especially the new Entourage 2004 email clients offer substantial support for Exchange server.

http://www.microsoft.com/mac/products/entourage2004/entourage2004.aspx?pid=exup2004

As to the Windows side of things, many of the problems with viruses and spyware can be addressed by using products that can keep themselves up to date, and making sure the subscriptions for the antivirus and antispyware signatures/automation do not lapse.  Every good antivirus program provides autoupdate functions and a background scanner to keep up with current viruses and to block them, but if the program is not updated, Windows becomes quite vulnerable, especially if there is no spyware protection.  Spyware and Spam are the two biggest sources of viruses on PCs, so antivirus protection alone is no longer adequate protection.
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LVL 24

Assisted Solution

by:SunBow
SunBow earned 75 total points
ID: 13433206
>  leery of compatibility issues as most of his customers are PC-based

Define.
Do they have to have data in MS Access, or MS IM, or MS search, or PowerPoint or eXchange?

Much can be done on MAC, the original OS for MS-Office.

I think that the answer for industry has changed from MS, to web based HTTP, such that anyone who has an internet browser can do business with any company on the internet.

> One of my clients has been experiencing problems with viruses, etc with his PC-based environment

That will never go away, it is too profitable a business

> He is thinking of switching to a Mac environment

Good. Some consider linux


>  most of his customers are PC-based. Can anyone shed any light on this?

we are all PC based.  What needs to be done is define the exchanges to be made between the client and the customer.  eMail, for example, does not require PC.  Neither does experts-exchange. With is, you must admit, rather robust.

If you have to have specs that only permit NetMeeting, I am sorry, the MAC won't help a design bound to fail
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LVL 19

Accepted Solution

by:
billmercer earned 150 total points
ID: 13436492
There simply isn't enough information provided to make a reasonable judgement about this client's notion. The type of business, the amount of dependency on specific applications, and the users themselves will all affect the answer.

I do have to respectfully disagree with some of the other experts on the difficulty of mixing PCs and Macs. I run a mixed-platform network, and it's just not as much of a problem as it used to be. Today's Macintosh computers are very different from the Macs of a few years ago. They use industry standard hardware and networking protocols, are more affordable, and with Unix as the underlying OS, they are more powerful and versatile than ever before.

There's no reason to change all hardware. Certainly the computers themselves would need to be replaced, but printers, network equipment, wiring, most peripherals, and even monitors can stay right where they are, if you are so inclined. In the old days Macs used proprietary interfaces for everything, but those days are long gone.


Leew makes some excellent suggestions for improving a Windows environment's resistance to scumware,
and if the client decides not to switch, he should definitely implement those suggestions.

More importantly, Mac OS is now based on an extremely powerful and reliable OS, Unix. This opens a whole new realm of powerful applications from the Unix world for Mac users. It's hard to find a better example than this of how much the Mac platform has evolved.
http://www.apple.com/server/resources/oracle/

Lack of availability of lots of antivirus and antispyware programs is not exactly a compelling reason to avoid Macs. That's like saying it's hard to find good spark plugs for a diesel.
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Author Comment

by:catcooper
ID: 13439118
Hi everyone: thanks for the feedback so far. Here's some additional info that may help you help me........
SunBow: They are a strategic planning company. Main programs used are Office, which i believe Mac has--AND they have a better Powerpoint option (Keynote)...Network is work group, i guess (there are only 2 partners currently but they are looking to grow). You didn't mention Netscape in your IE options..any reason? He currently uses MSN as his email client ....

The basic business activities that their mixed environment would need to support may be summarized as follows:
*Power Point presentations that support sales calls and onsite facilitation with our clients. We do not need to network with our clients.
*Word documents that support communicating with our clients (e.g., proposals, invoices, etc.)
*Adobe files that are used to document the results of our onsite work with our clients.
*E-Mail services that support sharing files as defined above and support general communications with our clients and between ourselves.
*Wireless LAN networks that support exchanging data within our offices and provide access to the Internet via an Internet gateway (e.g., WINTEL machine is connected directly to the Internet with other computers gaining access through that machine)
There may be a few other application but these are the most important...
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LVL 19

Expert Comment

by:billmercer
ID: 13440224
There's nothing you describe that would mandate Windows, and if they want to use iWorks Keynote to create cinematic presentations, that's a fairly compelling reason to switch to Macs. With only a couple  of workstations, there's not much standing in the way. And if they want to keep their options open, they can keep a Windows machine around in case they need to use some Windows-only product now and then.

Browser-wise, Netscape is basically the same as Mozilla (but with more advertising and less frequent updates) so it's kind of redundant. That's probably why nobody mentioned it. But if the name recognition of the Netscape browser makes the client feel comfortable, it's a perfectly viable option. I let my users choose which browser they want to use (as long as it's not IE) and most opt for Netscape or FireFox.



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LVL 11

Expert Comment

by:turn123
ID: 13485609
Hi catcooper :-),
Since we haven't heard from you for a couple of days could you please give us an update on the status of this question?
See:  http://www.experts-exchange.com/help.jsp#hi51 Thank you, turn123's friendly update request script.
Offtopic comments about this script to http://www.experts-exchange.com/Applications/Q_21188389.html please :-).
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