Thoughts on Business Switching Windows Desktops to Linux Instead of Mac OS.

There’s an article on Roughly Drafted about a pilot program at IBM “designed to study the possibility of moving significant numbers of employees to the Mac platform.”

The article is a worthwhile read, and includes comments from users in the program, and what IBM’s next steps will be.

What I’m writing about is not RD’s article, or even the program itself, but rather a comment made by a user in the program:

“If the remote connection and Sametime issues are worked out, I think that Mac users can be productive in IBM. However, if I had to recommend a non-Windows setup, I would recommend Linux on a ThinkPad. I see the convenience and reliability of ThinkPad hardware as superior, and the Mac OS is still a proprietary OS that seems to require a Windows license for some tasks anyway. I don’t see enough of an advantage in the Mac OS to be worth the incompatibility issues when collaborating with my colleagues.”

Why focus on this one comment? Because it’s the kind that initially looks like a reasonable, devil’s-advocate type of argument. However, upon parsing it makes less and less sense. Let’s take this thing one line at a time…

“If the remote connection and Sametime issues are worked out, I think that Mac users can be productive in IBM.”

An admission that maybe the biggest issue is that some Windows Enterprise apps do not run natively on the Mac. Presumably, if they did we’d be all set.

“However, if I had to recommend a non-Windows setup, I would recommend Linux on a ThinkPad.”

Oops. The honeymoon in the first sentence is over. Apparenly it isn’t about the Mac, it’s about going “non-Windows”. But that’s not the same thing, and may betray a bias of the commenter.

The real head-scratcher is that surely the Enterprise apps that don’t work natively on the Mac don’t work on Linux, either. The commenter says not running these apps is a problem for Macs, but doesn’t mention the same for Linux.

“I see the convenience and reliability of ThinkPad hardware as superior,”

This is just an opinion. I liked the ThinkPads I’ve had in the past, and believe their reputation is good and well-deserved. However, Macs are no less so, and also have a good and well-deserved reputation. It’s not made clear how the user sees “superior” convenience and reliability away from Mac hardware.

“and the Mac OS is still a proprietary OS that seems to require a Windows license for some tasks anyway.”

This one is my favorite. At first blush it may seem like a reasonable argument. Hey, if we’re leaving Windows let’s go with something “free”. And if we need to pay for Windows anyway, then why mess with another OS? But what it really does is take a big Mac advantage (i.e., the ability to run native Windows apps) and tries to make it a disadvantage.

First, switching from Windows (especially in large corporations) is not as much about money as many people think — or as it should be. The IT budget for such licenses is pretty much on auto-pilot. If the money paid to Microsoft for licenses was really an issue, these companies would have gone with alternatives (especially in servers) long ago.

Second, what will be used to run the Enterprise apps on Linux? There are several fully-supported options on the Mac. In half a sentence the commenter blows off the Mac’s advantage as some sort of hindrance.

Third, even if “free”, there are costs associated with supporting any OS. In fact, initial price for the license is generally the smallest incurred cost over the life of a PC. (Remember, we’re not talking about servers here — which are more secure and fewer in number — we’re talking about desktops.)

“I don’t see enough of an advantage in the Mac OS to be worth the incompatibility issues when collaborating with my colleagues.”

What incompatability issues? If you’re running under Windows then presumably there are none, and even if running native Mac equivalents these can be few (it depends, and no specifics are given).

This seems the usual chest-beating about everbody running the same exact thing. Yet companies frequently ignore this. It’s not uncommon after a new product upgrade is available that files sent from an upgraded user don’t open correctly for a non-upgraded user. If the sender was on a Mac, the receiver might blame the computer. But if he’s on a PC it’s all about hitting up your IT group so you can get the upgrade, too.

It’s not my position that this particular commenter was an Apple basher or Microsoft zealot. I’ll just assume a typical user, and he or she was simply expressing a view and likely not thinking it through. The reason for this post isn’t to blast the commenter, but rather the comment itself. It’s a “sound bite” argument someone can put forth that sounds intelligent while others nod their heads in agreement without any critical thinking applied.

About these ads

3 thoughts on “Thoughts on Business Switching Windows Desktops to Linux Instead of Mac OS.

  1. I agree with the article generally, and particularly with the conclusion. There’s far too much of this substance-less writing (and talking too) that just sounds good but means very little. And there is far too little thinking going on, when people read or hear these mumblings. I blame the school system.

  2. I totally agree with the writer. This was a well thought out presentation and showed how an article which sounded clear was really very foggy when it comes to reasoning.
    :-) I have heard many of these types of arguements before. They all tend to sound good until you really look at them. Then they fall apart. The “My PC is better……. cause I am used to it.”

    Thanks,

    EN

  3. Good analysis and good conclusions!

    I think that what is happening with IBM is in another road: Almost no one of IBM’s software solutions are “working with Macs” and business are “going Macs…”
    So, IBM is “testing inside itself” how it is “to live in Mac’s mode”.
    They are a service and consulting firm… with a strong arm in mainframes… They are preapering to serve their costumers better.

Comments are closed.