Lockheed Martin Macintosh Guild

Why Mac? Why NOT NT?
A Business Perspective.

This document does not discuss Windows 95 specifically. There are so many security and stability problems with it that it simply isn't appropriate for a secure business environment. Thus, both Windows95 and NT are covered, but it tends towards NT.

Many companies are leaning away from Macintosh and towards Windows, a move that entails complexities many may not realize. Different machines have different strengths, but moving to a single platform, particularly NT, is not necessarily the best direction. This document illustrates that, as is often the case with a well-marketed product, how complex NT really is and what problems good marketing may have hidden.

Apple's marketing has not been strong, but lack of marketing and negative press coverage does not mean the company is failing. Quite the contrary. Apple and its products are both strong and viable, as is illustrated below.

The vast majority of most business jobs is email and text documents. As such, Windows NT, which was designed as a server, is not entirely appropriate. While it handles network transactions quickly, NT has large hardware and software requirements and is difficult to maintain. Thus, it makes a good server, kept in a controlled environment, but not necessarily a good desktop computer. The industry agrees the Mac OS is more mature and easier to use than NT. Since employees are rarely trained in operating systems, many will be lost for a long time, and few, if any, will use it fully.

Please note that the vast majority of the articles cited are from PC-oriented or neutral publications - of 57 citations, only nine are from Mac-specific sources. Links are provided where possible.

 

BUSINESS ISSUES

1) The Mac OS is Here to Stay
2) Press Coverage Has Been Inappropriate
3) Rhapsody and Mac OS 8 are Powerful and Viable
4) Macintosh is Fast
5) Macintosh is Secure
6) Mac OS Has a Superior Interface
7) Training and Resource Costs and User Preferences

ADMINISTRATION ISSUES

8) Mac OS is Cheaper to Maintain
9) Mac Telephone Support Costs are Lower
10) Cross-Platform Compatibility is Simple
11) Often-Overlooked NT/Microsoft Issues
12) Centralized Mac Administration Exists
13) Excellent Corporate Mac Support Exists
14) There is No Software Shortage
Summary


BUSINESS ISSUES

1) The Mac OS is Here to Stay.

Apple is not going out of business. Apple is number 150 on the Fortune 500 list, ahead of Bethlehem Steel, General Dynamics, Coca-Cola, Nike, Oracle, Sun Microsystems, and Cisco Systems. Microsoft is ranked only at 172. (Fortune 500 Listing, July 15, 1997) Overall, Apple's doing well given the current state of the computer market, the growth of which is flattening (The Hollywood Reporter, Scott McKim). That Apple has lost money is a minor issue. With 1.7 billion in revenue, the most recent quarter's fifty-million dollar loss is trivial.

 

MARKET SHARE

Contrary to public opinion, the Mac OS market is growing, not shrinking. From January '96 to January '97, Mac OS market share grew 61.5% (CI: US Dealer Sales Show Ray of Hope for Mac OS, Rogers Communications, March 7, 1997). Apple may lose share, but that's to be expected with competition. IBM began the personal computing market and then nearly disappeared from it. The market lives on.

The Washington Times said:

Industry critics have been predicting the death of Apple Computer for most of the 1990s. The news that Gil Amelio, Apple's chairman and chief executive, abruptly resigned and was replaced provided fresh cries of Apple's impending demise. Apple will likely survive, even if a massive refocusing is needed. The Mac platform, however, will grow and thrive, even if your next Mac doesn't come from Cupertino and even if someone other than Apple makes the next revision of the Mac operating system. (Apple May Appear Sour, But Strong, Deep Roots Assure Survival, The Washington Times, July 14, 1997).

Even if Apple has only a small market share....

According to Automotive News (October, 1995), Saab, Mercedes, Infiniti, Volvo, Lexus, and BMW have less than 1% of the world car market each. And even the big guns like Mitsubishi and Chrysler, have less than 2% of the market apiece. The bottom 16 car companies put together, in fact, constitute only 9.8% of the market. Does that mean these companies won't survive? Hardly. They are prospering companies that would kill for Apple's 9% market share. So would almost any individual PC clone maker (Clip'n Save: The Numbers Nobody Knows, MacWorld Magazine, July, 1996).

Apple's ailments are well documented in the press, but the press still equates Mac OS market share with Apple market share. If Apple simply closed its doors today, there's no shortage of clones, and they're building market share. Those building and licensed to build Mac clones include:

 

Motorola Akia IBM
Power Computing Vertegri Research Marathon Computers
UMAX Vision Power PowerTools
Daystar Digital Everex ProMax
APS Exponential
Computer Warehouse FirePower Systems

 

There are also nearly a dozen foreign manufacturers. If Apple simply vanished, the clone makers would continue the Mac OS. Many are larger than Apple itself and are deeply bound to the company.

 

FINANCIAL STRENGTH

MSNBC gives Apple's balance sheet a strong, positive review. (Another financial statement is in Point 2 on the following page.)

Apple has almost Terminator-like staying-power derived from its incredibly strong balance sheet.... Consider some basic facts. With roughly $1.1 billion of cash on hand, Apple has more folding stuff in the till than 96% of all publicly traded companies in America. It's got as much cash on hand as Philip Morris, Delta Airlines and Eli Lilly ... and more than Cisco Systems and plenty of other high-tech high flyers.

The company has more - and higher-quality - current assets (the stuff you can sell for cash in a pinch) than 94% of all companies in America, beating out such marquee names as Reuters, Schering-Plough, Federal Express and many others. And when you deduct current liabilities, Apple is still left with $2 billion in ready money. That is twice as good a current ratio as the average for all the computer industry.

With $1.95 billion in balance sheet book value, and 124 million shares outstanding, Apple's investors are holding stock with a book value of roughly $15.50 per share. That's three times the book value per share of a Microsoft or a Dell. (MSNBC, January 1997.)

Gil Amelio recently resigned. From Microsoft's point of view, it's not an issue:

Microsoft Corp. said Wednesday the software giant remains committed to meeting the needs of Macintosh users, regardless of the latest management shakeup at Apple Computer Inc. (Gates to Support Apple, c|net, July 10, 1997).

An article from c|net stated that Apple is still strong and growing:

Despite dire predictions following today's resignation of top Apple Computer executives Gilbert Amelio and Ellen Hancock, a few bright spots in its product lineup indicate that it is rising to the challenge in some critical areas. ...The upside includes the resuscitation of its notebook computers, keeping its high-end desktop systems at the cutting edge of performance with fast processors, and managing its inventory and shipping processes better. The company has been better than ever at getting fast systems into people's hands. Apple offers 180, 200, and 240-MHz notebooks, when Windows-Intel users can only get their hands on 166-MHz portables.

There's also active corporate support. See Point 13 for details, and according to a recent article:

Apple and Computer Associates International Inc. on Monday at CA-World '97 in New Orleans said the will partner to improve the Mac's fit into enterprise sites (Apple, Computer Associates Join Forces, MacWeek, July 15, 1997.)

Company heads change. The Mac OS will continues regardless. Why does Apple look bad?

 

2) Press Coverage has been Inappropriate and Inaccurate.

The press has consistently given Apple negative coverage. Sometimes it's appropriate; often it's not. IBM lost billions in the early 1990s - it was near bankruptcy - yet no one announced its demise. Apple is, according to MSNBC, financially larger than FedEx, could write a check for all of Compaq, and is one of the best buys on the stock market (MSNBC, January, 1997).

 

FINANCIAL STRENGTH RESTATED

Nonetheless, the press keeps putting Apple in a bad light. Rich Levin of Information Weekly published an article about such inaccurate coverage. He notes how coverage was not even-handed, not well-researched, and not appropriate. From the article:

Let's dissect Apple's recent quarterly financial announcement. (No, this is not going to turn into a biased, pro-Apple rant. Remember, this is the Computing Atheist speaking.) ...I was unable to find a single story that went beyond the headlines. Gross margins remained stable at 19% and were up 10% over last year, while operating expenses were cut $32 million from December's quarter and $65 million from the year-ago period to $489 million. Cash on hand and short-term assets exceeded 1.4 billion, and the company's Claris software division turned in a record $70 million in revenues, driven primarily by demand for the recently upgraded Mac OS 7.6.

Also barely reported was Apple's $400 million in backlogged orders, of which fully $300 million are for the latest PowerMacs systems. ...Further, PowerBooks captured 7.9% of domestic US notebook sales in January, up 7% over last year.

Perhaps most telling, I was unable to find a single report that pointed out that Apple's clone strategy is firing on all cylinders.... In the dealer channel, unit growth of Intel x86 desktop PCs actually declined 5.1% in 1996, while Mac OS desktop shipments were up an astounding 61.4%. Some of the Mac OS's increase came right out of the Wintel platform's hide. CI reported that, while x86 desktop systems declined from 92% of dealer sales in November 1996 to 89% in January 1997, Mac OS sales rose from 8% to 11%.

CI's report does not include activity in the direct mail-order channel, but does note the Mac platform overall had an 11.2% share of the US business computing market in 1997, up from 9.5% in December 1996, and 7.8% in November....

If these numbers haven't caused your eyes to glaze over by now, one thing should be clear: Readers did not get the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. The high-impact news - Apple loses $708 million - was skimmed off and plastered on the front page, buttressed by other high-impact (read: negative) information, and rounded out with the obligatory and quickly acquired analyst, company, and/or user quotes.

Does this additional depth of reporting change your perception about Apple? Therein lies the rub. If you're like most IT readers, the computer trade press provides your regular diet of news (or what passes for news) and information. Ask yourself this question: Are you making critical IT decisions based on perceptions, or based on facts? (Truth or Consequences, Information Week Magazine, March, 1997.)

 

JOURNALISM BIAS

This is not the only article of its ilk. Many have noticed the disparity between press coverage and what's actually happening; e.g.,

I can't help but wonder why these self same [Apple doomsday] experts aren't warning people away from Polaroid's products, since that company - as big and as visible as Apple - has also had a hard year. ...Or what about the disaster that is Windows CE? I haven't seen a single story in the mainstream press about a return rate that is reportedly as high as 30% on Windows CE-based devices (Lemmings, MacUser Online, February 13, 1997, ).

 

3) Rhapsody and Mac OS 8 are Powerful and Viable. Apple's purchase of NeXT and upgrading the operating system has raised concerns about long-term strategy and backwards compatibility.

 

BACKWARDS COMPATIBILITY

Apple has always had powerful backwards compatibility and has given strong assurances that it will continue. For example, a Mac Plus, circa 1986, easily runs System 7.5.5, circa 1997. A Mac IIci, circa 1987, easily runs System 7.6.1, released this year.

When Apple created the first Mac, it had 128k of RAM and a small black and white screen. Apple put values in memory and told programmers to ask the display's resolution and size. Three years later Apple introduced color Macs. Macs automatically took advantage of the color and higher resolution.

More recently, Apple's recent World-Wide Developer's Conference was a success - the technical community is pleased. (No Sour Notes in Rhapsody Software Demo, Chicago Sun-Times, May 5, 1997). Many developers were uncertain about the Mac as a platform and how Apple would handle itself, but all were impressed:

By general consensus here in the sunshine and benevolent expanse of California's Silicon Valley, a new operating system called Rhapsody that runs on Macintosh and Intel PCs will lead Apple back into the black. (Rhapsody - Apple's Key Holds Its Hopes For The Future, Melbourne Online, May 20, 1997).

 

MAC OS 8

Mac OS 8 is receiving even better reviews than Rhapsody (Apple's Mac OS 8 Beta Receives Positive Response; Developers, and the article, Customers Laud Upgrade to Operating System, PR Newswire, May 13, 1997). Also:

Mac OS 8 also comes with the Internet version of the kitchen sink. You get a built-in Web server. You get the most complete version of the Web language, Java, built in. And you get a very tight integration among these Internet features, so you don't have to get a master's in computer science to figure out how to use them (Mac Operating System Demonstrates Maturity, Chicago Sun-Times, July 10, 1997).

PC Week said, "After evaluating the Beta 5 version of Mac OS 8, PC Week Labs recommends that administrators upgrade their sites." (PC Labs, PC Week, July, 1997.)

Upgrades occur regardless of platform. An upgrade or change of direction is not a reason to change platforms.

 

4) Macintosh is Fast.

Many companies and people buy computers without factoring in upgrades. As a result, there are Macs that go back as far as 1987 still in use. New NT machines are faster only because they're newer. NT is not the fastest.

The fastest laptop available, PC or Mac, is the Mac 3400/240. "This is a computer that can go toe-to-toe with the best Intel-based portable PCs on the market. I haven't seen too many portables with built-in networking and modem connections; Apple's to be commended for being one of a handful of makers with that foresight. (PowerBook Puts the Bloom Back on Blemished Apple, The Washington Times, February 17, 1997).

The Washington Post follows up with: "The 3400c is not a radical departure from what came before it. Instead, it embodies the best of what 1997 technology can deliver in terms of high performance and usability." (Apple Offers a Portable Powerhouse, Washingtonpost.com, April, 1997).

One of the fastest, single-CPU desktop computer is Motorola's Starmax 5000 (Motorola Ships 300 MHz Clone, c|net Computing, June 16, 1997 and Motorola Ships First 300 MHz System, InfoSeek , June 16, 1997).

Faster yet are multiple-CPU Macs. MacWorld lab tests found top-of-the-line Macs faster than top-of-the-line PCs, hands down (The Proof: Fast Macs Outperform Fast PCs, MacWorld, June 18, 1997).

Another speed test by MacUser matched top-of-the-line PCs with Macs and found that Macs were again faster on all fronts, including MMX-enabled PCs (Pentium II: The Empire Strikes Out, MacUser, May 7, 1997).

 

5) Macintosh is Secure.

The Mac is the most secure computer available. NT has many security holes, among them a freeware tool available on the Internet called NTFSDOS (US Gov't Division of Computer Research and Technology, July 19, 1996). It gives anyone with physical access to a Windows NT server or workstation read access to all files on the system, subverting Windows NT's normal access protections. It was described in the Fall of '96, and the issue still has not been adequately addressed (Windows NT Magazine, March 1996).

Whole books have been written about NT security; e.g., Tom Sheldon's Windows NT Security Handbook (McGraw-Hill, 1997, ISBN:0-07-882240-8). While it is possible to make NT relatively secure, it is not easy, nor is it reliable. New holes have been found after the old ones were plugged, and NT Research outlines, in 13 pages, just the basics of NT security (Windows NT Security Administration, November, 1996). There are no books on Macintosh security.

A recent article in EETimes (an electrical-engineering journal) noted how often NT networks are breached and how easy it is to do (Hackers Keep the Heat on Windows NT Security, EETimes, June, 1997).

A private firm, VirTech Communications, set up a Mac server and offered $15,000 to anyone who could gain unauthorized access. No one could (Hacker Contest Fails to Crack Mac Web Server, NY Times, April 12, 1997). Because the Mac was designed as a single-user, tightly-integrated workstation, it does not have the security problems of other platforms.

 

6) The Mac OS has a Superior Interface.

Nearly all agree the Mac OS is superior to Windows95. PC World Magazine rated the Mac OS the best 32-bit operating system. From the article:

Apple's ground breaking OS still excels in ease of use and at graphics tasks.... Overall our testers still gave the Mac OS their highest marks, judging it... much superior to OS/2 Warp and Windows NT. It's obvious, for instance, how much Windows 95's Recycle Bin and OS/2's Shredder owe to the Mac's Trash, which introduced the concept of drag-and-drop, recoverable file deleting.

OS/2 Warp's Workplace Shell and the Windows 95 Desktop are clearly modeled on the Mac OS's Finder, the first mainstream interface that lets you manage folders, programs, and documents by dragging them around in customizable on-screen windows. In many instances, the Mac OS Finder's intuitive design and single, integrated set of tools helped our usability testers figure out how to perform tasks in that operating system more quickly than with the others.

Still, neither Windows 95 nor OS/2 has quite matched the Finder's simplicity and logic. "Since I switched to the Mac, I haven't had to worry about resource limitations, whether all my drivers are compatible, or fussing with hardware configurations. If I want to attach a modem, I do, and it works. With my Windows PC, I tended to spend more time troubleshooting and less time working." (Mac OS: How the Other 10 Percent Lives, PC World, February, 1996).

Another PC-oriented magazine wrote, "...the Mac user interface is arguably still more refined than the best OS produced by Microsoft" (Puget Sound Computer User Group, July 1997). Examples and quotes abound.

 

7) Training and Resource Costs and User Preferences.

Few employees receive operating system training, and even if they do, NT is more complex and less organized than the Mac OS. Thus, a platform switch involves several hidden costs:

Rarely does a company account for these issues. Many executives use their computers only sparingly and, understandably, may not realize how difficult switching to a new platform will be.

 

USER PREFERENCES

Rarely does an employer ask employees, but Mac users are generally displeased about switching platforms. See Macintouch Reader Reports for a list of recent postings to a national newsgroup. The Johnson Space Center went through a similar, unpleasant experience. Employees don't want to switch.

Independent studies back up them up. Evans Research Associates found that Mac more satisfying than PCs, more enjoyable, more creative, and Macs ranked higher on a variety of attributes (Personal Computer Satisfaction, Evans Research, April, 1996). Another study of 1300 users found that negative feelings towards computers were much higher in PC users and positive feelings about computers were much higher in Mac users (Survey Results, Robert Sharl Consultancy, 1997)

 


ADMINISTRATION ISSUES

8) Mac OS is Cheaper to Maintain.

Fewer administrators means lower costs. NT is remarkably complex for a desktop machine. An article titled NT Lies described an entire series of serious problems with NT and the marketing behind it. From the article:

"What is it about the computer industry that people to stretch the truth past breaking point? Every week we dig through a pile of press releases, news clippings, white papers, and reviewer's guides, most of them filled with rumors, half-truths, exaggerations, false conclusions, tap dancing, and spin that's gone completely out of control. Not to mention outright whoppers. ...This year we set our sights on Microsoft Windows NT. Why NT? After Microsoft tacked the Windows 95 shell onto NT, it was suddenly the hottest software around, and when you're hot, people talk. But the trouble with NT is its enormous complexity...." (NT Lies, ZD Net, June, 1997).

Some claim it's cheaper to maintain a single platform. However, an independent study by the Gartner Group found the reverse (Technical Support Costs and Dual-Platform Desktops: Managed Diversity, Gartner Group, 1995). More Macs meant lower costs, and the more Macs in a multi-platform environment, the lower the costs.

Gulfstream Aerospace and McDonnell Douglas both have multi-platform sites, and their support numbers are as follows:

GULFSTREAM

 Platform  Workstations  Administrators  Workstations/Administrator
 Macintosh  450  1  450
 PC  1400  10  140

 

MCDONNELL DOUGLAS

 Platform  Workstations  Administrators  Workstations/Administrator
 Macintosh  400  2.5  160
 PC  50  2.5  20

The Seattle Times reported on June 18, 1995, "At Intel, where many employees are true computer experts, the [Data Processing] department figures on one support person for every 30 Windows computers. The DP department was astonished to learn that one Intel division had 120 Macs and got along fine with a single support person."

PC Magazine's John Dvorak adds,

The original idea behind Windows was to provide a common set of drivers for common devices to take the burden of writing them off third-party developers. But the coders have developed competing DLLs and now can't code a program that just runs. Instead it is tied into the OS in such convoluted ways that it's a miracle that it works when installed (The Thrill is Gone, PC Magazine, April 21, 1997).

Norris and Wong, an independent consulting firm, found the following:

The Macintosh still has a much better architecture than the PC with Windows95, and its software has far fewer complex interdependencies. These differences translate into significant cost and productivity benefits for Macintosh users (Maintenance Comparison: Macintosh vs. Windows95, Norris and Wong, November, 1995).

Thus, PCs require from three to eight times as much support as Macintoshes.

 

9) Mac Telephone Support Costs are Lower.

For years Apple's standard service was free and won awards for its effectiveness. Today, a high-level professional support service is under construction, and Apple's implemented a fee system that's far less expensive than Microsoft's. The $69.95 fee buys one year's coverage and covers 10 incidents.

A single NT server service call to Microsoft (1-800-936-3500) costs $195.00. That means....

A year of NT server support costs $1,950.00.

A year of Apple support costs $69.95.

Microsoft support costs 2,700% more than Apple's.

 

10) Cross-Platform Compatibility is Simple.

A Mac OS computer can run NT. An NT computer cannot run the Mac OS. Tools like VirtualPC, SoftWindows, and third-party cards allow a Mac to run nearly any operating system, including Unix. From the Washington Post:

How can a piece of software pretend to be a Pentium MMX - and work? But it does. Virtual PC emulates lots of goodies: the hard drive controller, the network link, the sound card of an Intel system. In running Windows software, it can use the CD-ROM drive, the floppy disk drive, the modem, the mouse and the printer of my Mac.

And it can emulate more than just MS-DOS, Windows 3.1 and Windows 95. VPC can also run Windows NT, IBM OS/2, OpenStep and other systems designed for Intel-based computers. (How to Turn An Apple Into A Bigger Mac, Washington Post, June, 1997).

Another review found the following:

Virtual PC works its magic by emulating Pentium MMX computers. By simulating an Intel Triton chip set and all auxiliary components, Virtual PC is really indistinguishable from a PC. Connectix has gone to great lengths to ensure compatibility with mass-market PCs, emulating the IDE controller, BIOS, CD-ROM, video, Ethernet, mouse, floppy, serial ports, sound (SoundBlaster Pro) and printing (Virtual PC Neatly Spans Platform Gap, MacWeek, June 20, 1997).

If software emulation isn't enough, Orange Micro and Reply both make cards that plug directly into a Mac. Two machines in one box, sharing display, networking, and storage. It literally becomes an NT or any other machine while it's also a Mac. (Orange Micro and Reply.)

Most data files already cross platforms easily. A Word document is a Word document regardless of hardware. A Mac accepts PC disks as easily as Mac disks. The reverse is not true - PCs will not accept Mac disks without extra software.

 

11) Often-Overlooked NT/Microsoft Issues.

NT is well marketed, but such marketing often covers problems. Consider printer setup (Tektronix Phaser Installer Manual, 1997). On a Mac, it's three steps on half a page. On a PC it's 17 steps on nearly two pages, with notes. Such issues are common - short and simple procedures on the Mac that are long and complex on NT.

Stewart Alsop of Fortune Magazine is concerned about Microsoft itself,

A few weeks ago I upgraded to the latest versions of much of the Microsoft software. The new stuff is so disappointing that I am beginning to wonder if I made a mistake putting so much faith in Microsoft. ... I'm beginning to wonder if Microsoft is so far ahead of its few competitors that it feels it can pay less attention to customers. My upgraded software has mistakes that a lean, paranoid company would not allow.

Microsoft does not have a clue how to provide such solutions. It has sold software for individual desktop computers, and it still does that well. But now it wants to extend massive software programs all across the corporate network, and it doesn't understand how to make that process easier for MIS people. In its desire to spread its name, it is creating real problems for the MIS guys - who are in some ways now its most important customers (Confessions of a Microsoft Junkie, Fortune Magazine, May 12, 1997).

Similarly, Infoworld published two articles that illustrate concerns with Microsoft.

The term "partner" gets thrown around in this industry pretty casually these days, but it's abundantly clear that the folks in Redmond don't have the foggiest idea what it means. For suppliers, being a partner implies delivering reliable products in a timely manner. But given the chaotic state of 32-bit Windows migration efforts at most IS sites, the widespread confusion over Microsoft's delivery dates for Windows97 and Windows NT 5.0, and now the specter or a scaled-down OS for terminals that may or may not replace the NetPC, it's easy to see that things are out of control in Redmond.

Unfortunately, the people who pay the price for this disarray don't work for Microsoft. Instead, it's all the customers and software developers trying to manage this chaos within their organizations who are being shafted by a company that is gaining renown for arrogance and apathy toward its corporate customers, otherwise known as partners (There's Give and Take in True Partnerships, InforWorld, July 21, 1997.)

The second article takes NT to task in particular.

...Now that people are deploying Windows NT in large numbers and in serious installations, the product is being revealed for what it is - another Microsoft work-in-promise, that is, progress.

Folks are finding out what a time-consuming chore it is to reboot every time they change a setting more consequential than the desktop wallpaper. Cumulative system-wide problems often can only be cured by time-consuming reinstallation of anything from drivers to the whole OS. Service packs introduce as many problems as they solve. And of course there is the Windows NT denial-of-service and security hole du jour (Solaris Poised to Fight the Windows NT Monster as it Turns Into a Bogeyman, Infoworld, July 21, 1997).

STABILITY AND SUPPORT

There are issues with NT's stability and recently-released service patches (NT's Problem Spots, CMP Media, January, 1997). All computers need maintenance, but NT's issues rarely to reach the press. Thus, few realize how many problems NT has. From the article,

There is even a lack of drivers for NT (Printer Vendors Have Ink on their Faces but Lack Driver Support for NT, InfoWorld, March 10, 1997). Without drivers, network cards, printers, and many other peripherals will not work. Thus, just making a machine do its job becomes difficult. In contrast, Apple's LaserWriter print driver handles almost any printer on the market.

There are three newsgroups on the Internet devoted to NT setup, plus one on compatibility, and each receives hundreds of posts a day. There are no newsgroups devoted to Mac setup or compatibility. It's simply less of an issue (comp.os.ms-windows.nt.setup, comp.os.ms-windows.nt.setup.hardware, comp.os.ms-windows.nt.setup.misc, comp.os.ms-windows.nt.software.compatibility).

 

PLUG'N PLAY

The press has discussed in detail and largely dismissed Microsoft's attempt at Plug'n Play, a standard since 1984 on the Mac. Configuring a PC is problematic at best, and NT doesn't even claim plug'n play. Administrators fight long hard to install and configure new PC hardware, and those battles are reflected in the following articles:

Nervous Laughter, c|net Perspectives, September 6, 1996
Plug and Play: Still Less than Half an Answer, PC Week Online, February 10, 1997
Broken Promises: A Look at PC Vendor Hype , PC Week Online, April 7, 1997
An Intelligent Proposal for the Wintel Platform, PC Week Online, May 26,1997
Windows Plug And Play Still Holds More Promise Than Payoff, InfoWorld, March 18, 1996

 

MOBILE COMPUTING

NT doesn't handle mobile computing well, as noted in a ZDNet article:

...your blood pressure will soar an hour into your first cross-country flight with an NT notebook. ...NT doesn't do power management, period - all systems run at full tilt until they can't run anymore. Don't expect to get much more than an hour out of a fully charged battery. NT has surprisingly good PC Card drivers, but you have to restart the system each time you add a new device if you expect the operating system to see it. ...NT [also] forces you to reboot and choose a new hardware profile each time you change working environments (NT Lies, ZD Net, June, 1997).

 

12) Centralized Mac Administration Exists.

NT has powerful administration tools, and Macintosh has its own suite. Several products allow any Mac to share screens with any other Mac (Timbuktu, Screen-to-Screen, and Apple's Network Administration Tool). File sharing is fast and easy. Tools like Norton Administrator for Networks and SAM Antivirus have centralized administration as well.

Any company can implement these tools. Implementing them on NT would, given NT's complexity, require more resources, incurring more costs and longer down times. Additional Mac tools are on the horizon. Apple is working on a version of the OS that can be "pushed" out over a network so that the administrator never leave his or her desk. (Apple Pushing Simple Installation of Mac OS InfoWorld, June 26, 1997).

 

13) Excellent Corporate Mac Support Exists.

The San Jose Mercury News reported, "In semiannual Reliability and Service stories, PC World surveys 17,000 readers. In March 1996 the overall best grades went to Apple, Compaq, Digital and HP. Apple had the top ranking in both tech support courtesy and knowledge."

For the third consecutive year, Apple received top marks in for reliability and service (PC Labs, PC World Magazine, 1997). Apple's customer support staff received the highest possible ratings in technical knowledge, courtesy, and follow-up. Apple also received "best" ratings in the survey's three product reliability categories and the top ranking for quality and reliability from Home PC Magazine (Home PC Magazine , November 1995).

Apple also has corporate support. Devices like the PowerBook 2400 and software like AppleShare IP 5.0 and AppleTalk Remote Access 3.0 are useful almost exclusively in corporate entities. A new program of corporate telephone support is under construction and CD releases about the program are already available.

 

14) There is No Software Shortage.

It has been said that the Mac lacks software. Microsoft recently hired more than a hundred programmers for the sole purpose of supporting Macintosh Office product. Many use Microsoft Office, and 90% of all users have what they need therein. Another example: Executive Information System (EIS) software packages include:

 

Software is sometimes released first on the PC, but the reverse is also true (Clip'n Save Apple: The Numbers Nobody Knows, MacWorld, July, 1996). Half the software released each year is Macintosh-first or Macintosh-only. Regardless, software release date is not a reason to change platforms. Hundreds if not thousands still use older software. Version control is an issue in any environment and switching platforms does not improve it.


SUMMARY

The Mac OS is not disappearing, nor is Apple. Supporting Macintosh costs less and is highly efficient. NT is powerful but suffers security holes and administration complexity. As a server in a controlled environment, it's a functional tool. As a desktop computer, it is less effective than Macintosh. That Apple's marketing is weak does not mean Apple's balance sheet is weak. Even if it were, the Mac OS is a reliable and long-term entity unto itself.

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