% fortune -ae paul murphy

Reasons to buy a Mac

In poking around the community questions and answers section on linkedIn.com earlier, I came across the following question by one Ricardo Almeida:

Any good reason (for me!) to buy a MacBook?

I've been a Windows user all my life!

I've using Microsoft Office, developed at some Microsoft languages and SQL Server for years. But, when I see the new Macs I become astonished with everything (design and operative software)

At this moment (since my professional goals have changed "a bit"), I am thinking on buying a new laptop and I'm confused of what to do!

I need:

22 hours after posting this he had accumulated ten answers - including this very sensible one from an Alexis Wilke:

Hi Ricardo,

I think Brian is right. If what you're looking into doing is use 100% Microsoft products, don't bother. Get a laptop with MS-Windows.

If you have the money and time, go ahead and get a MacBook. Note that it will take you some time to learn how to use it. Remember that because all the keystrokes are different, the menus are different, etc.

Also, you could as well go with a Linux laptop. Dell also offers Linux laptops. It is a lot cheaper and runs with a lot more free software.

If you have not yet tested it, you may want to look into OpenOffice, it includes even more features than what you need. Also, so far I did not see a replacement to Microsoft Project in there. But I bet you'd be able to find a software that replaces that product too.



When Apple went x86 it got some PC developer support, media enthusiasm, and the ability to run Windows code, but gave up its former performance, security, quality, and price advantages over wintel. As a result people who previously specified Macs on long term cost or risk minimization can no longer do so - meaning that the only remaining reasons to choose Apple over the generic brands are the product image halo and MacOS X.

Oddly enough the fashion component does have a role in business: if you're sending people out to customers you may want to think about the messages having them carry a visibly upscale product like an AirBook can convey to those customers.

In most cases, however, decisions on switching to Macs from Windows come down to what value, if any, there is in using MacOS X instead of a Microsoft Windows product, Linux, another BSD, or Solaris.

That's why I think Mr. Wilke, as quoted above, is correct: if Richardo is going to run only licensed Microsoft software, he won't gain anything of significance by switching to the Mac - and could save some cash by switching to Linux, running his Microsoft stuff using one of the WINE based solutions, and gradually weaning himself from Microsoft by bringing on one open source application at a time until he's fully comfortable with his new environment.

On the surface this gradual transition away from Microsoft is what the people pushing Parallels and dual boot and other ways of running Windows code on a Mac are recommending too - but there's one big difference: the Parallels and related ways of using Windows crutches to continue hobbling along after nominally converting to MacOS X is a con in a way that using a WINE solution on Linux is not.

Convert to Linux with some WINE support for Windows stuff you can't get away from and you get real cost savings and real security improvements from the day you start - but take the Parallels or dual boot approach with MacOS X and you're basically paying for both, inheriting the vulnerabilities of both, and trapping yourself into continuing that situation indefinitely.

So my advice to Ricardo is simple: take a good look at MacOS X and its applications: if these meet your needs without recourse to parallels or dual boot options, then jump because ease of use and software reliability will justify the change - but if not, then either stick with Windows or look at a gradual transition to Linux.

Paul Murphy wrote and published The Unix Guide to Defenestration. Murphy is a 25-year veteran of the I.T. consulting industry, specializing in Unix and Unix-related management issues.