Macintosh Computers Ready for Business?

March 18, 2012 by  

This is the dirty little secret your IT manager doesn’t want you to know about. The truth is, it’s easier than ever to integrate Macintosh computers into your technology mix. Macs no longer need to be hidden in that dark corner of your business known as the graphic design department. Instead, it’s time for your Macs to be a valued part of your computing toolset.

I know what your IT manager is going to say, because I’ve heard it all before:

Macs are more expensive.

While it may appear that Macs cost more (and in terms of raw hardware, they do), they will cost less to operate. They will last longer, will break less, and are far more resistant to viruses and malware.

They won’t work on our network.

Right out of the box, Macs can share files with Windows machines, using standard Windows filesharing protocols. If your network is more sophisticated, free and inexpensive tools are available to let your Mac join that network as a fully qualified member.

Macs aren’t compatible with my applications.

If you are using the most common office applications, this is no longer the case. Microsoft Office 2008 for the Macintosh is fully file-compatible with Microsoft Office 2007 for Windows. This means you can share Word, PowerPoint, and Excel files without problems. Office 2008 offers Entourage, which is an equivalent to Office 2007’s Outlook, and can attach itself to your Exchange servers without a hitch. The only issue you might have is if you use Access for databases, but there are workarounds for this, as there are for Office 2007’s Publisher, Project, Visio, and FrontPage.

Your favorite Windows graphics suite has parallels on the Mac platform. Adobe’s graphic design portfolio includes applications like Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Acrobat, Drewamweaver, Flash, and Premiere. The files generated by these programs can be shared without modification on either platform.

Your font library, as long as it is in TrueType or OpenType format, is completely compatible with the Macintosh platform.

Mac applications are too expensive.

Look no further than the open source community. OpenOffice.org, developed by Sun Microsystems, is a completely free replacement for the Microsoft Office suite of products with a wordprocessor, spreadsheet, presentation program, database, vector graphics editor, and mathematics formula creation tool. Admittedly, some of the pieces aren’t as fully developed as their Microsoft-created equivalents, but development continues at a fast pace, and in all likelihood, the vast majority of you are only barely scratching the surface of the capabilities of either the OpenOffice or Microsoft Office products anyway. These products are compatible with the Mac OS, Microsoft Windows, and Linux operating systems.

If you need a Photoshop equivalent, the open source software package The GIMP offers many of the features and capabilities of Adobe’s flagship product, though the user interface will appear quite odd to Photoshop experts. And, it’s also free.

Our whole business is designed around a Windows-only application.

Not a problem! With the popularization of virtual operating systems, software tools like VMWare Fusion, Parallels, Crossover, or Sun VirtualBox, let you install many variations of Microsoft Windows (98, ME, NT, 2000, XP, or Vista), or even Linux operating systems on your Macintosh so you can run those few applications that only work in Windows.

In future articles, I will expand on these topics and demonstrate how the Macintosh can be a good neighbor in your office.

Links for further reading:

Microsoft Office 2008 for the Macintosh: http://www.microsoft.com/mac/products/Office2008/default.mspx

Microsoft Office 2007 for Windows: http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/default.aspx

Adobe Creative Suites: http://www.adobe.com/products/creativesuite/

OpenOffice.org: http://www.openoffice.org/

The GIMP: http://www.gimp.org/

VMWare Fusion: http://vmware.com/products/fusion/

Parallels: http://www.parallels.com/

Sun VirtualBox: http://www.sun.com/software/products/virtualbox/get.jsp