NEW YORK—Mac enthusiasts from Apples core professional markets hailed the latest software innovations announced at CEO Steve Jobs Macworld Expo keynote presentation here Wednesday morning.
Jeff Held, chief technology officer with Watson Wyatt Worldwide, a global consulting firm based in Fairfax, Va., fits the bill for one of Apples recent "Switchers" spots. While he says that a "significant majority" of his companys 4,200 PCs are Windows-based, he says, "Personally, Im a diehard Mac user."
Held suggested that some of the enhancements on tap for Mac OS X 10.2--as well as the new Xserve rack-mounted server--could put a dent in Watson Wyatts current platform mix. "Features of Jaguar and the new inSync software [for synchronizing cell phones, Palm PDAs and iPods to Mac OS X] are very appealing; they make integrating very attractive.
"The problem in Windows environments like ours is integrating Macs onto the network and with other devices. These new announcements make that a lot more attractive."
On the hardware front, Held said Watson Wyatt is seriously considering adopting the Xserve for its server needs. "We use a lot of Unix, and you can run all that on the Xserve; its got a better management environment, and its cheap."
For his own household, Held says he has few doubts about making another purchase that will add to his familys six Macs. "My daughter wants the iMac in the worst way," he says, although he hesitated about committing to the new $1,999, 17-inch flat-panel model. "I think shes going to have to settle for the 15-inch--without a SuperDrive."
Chuck Friesen, director of instructional technology with Lincoln (Neb.) Public Schools, also says that iSync and the Jaguar enhancements to Mac OS X will be the most important innovations for his purchasing plans.
Friesen says that while he was impressed with new software features such as the iCal calendar utility and iTunes, he doesnt think theyre as applicable to school use as the device-synching capabilities of iSync, which he believes will help increase Apples grip on its crucial education market.
"Synchronization is critical," Friesen says. "Palms and their role in education are ever-increasing. To be able to sync to the Mac like that is very essential."
As for the new hardware, Friesen predicts that his district will continue to purchase the all-in-one, 17-inch eMac instead of the pricier new imac. "We buy all year round," he says. "Well be putting in an order for 260 more eMacs in the next week or two; were very, very pleased with them."
Macon Shirley, technical manager with the Woodbine Agency, an advertising agency in Winston-Salem, N.C., says that while the majority of his companys 40-plus systems are Macs, Woodbine has yet to make the switch to Mac OS X.
Specifically, the company is waiting for a couple of key applications--QuarkXPress and Clients and Profits agency-management software--to go Mac OS X-native before it makes the leap from Mac OS 9.
However, Shirley says hes excited by the enhancements to Mac OS X and expects Woodbine will migrate by year-end. Furthermore, he says that iSync and iCal will make a big difference to his agency.
His biggest disappointment from the keynote: the lack of a ship date for XPress from Denver-based Quark Inc. "I think thats the one everybodys waiting for," he says.
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