The Missing Enterprise Mac

By Sean Gallagher  |  Posted 2004-05-10 Print this article Print

The same things that make Macs work well in the home make them work just as well in the office. Generally speaking, I find Macs easier to network and easier to support on a daily basis than PCs. In a small office environment, Id be comfortable using a PowerMac G5 tower as an application server, file server and a workstation at the same time. Id never do that with a Windows system. And unless it were the system administrators workstation, Id never do that with Linux, either.
Ive been using a Mac OS X desktop alongside (and often instead of) Windows and Linux since the first release. And while Ive had gripes about developer tool support and various minor aspects of the Apple experience, I can say without hesitation that Id rather support an office full of Mac OS X machines than an office full of PCs running whatever combination of Windows they might have loaded.
Certainly, Mac OS X is a good chunk of the reason for that. Like Linux, OS X avoids the Windows problem of allowing users to run applications as "root." Admittedly, there isnt as much Mac software as there is Windows software. Still, the Mac has better commercial desktop software support than Linux. At the same time, since its based on an open-source, BSD-like Unix, I can leverage much of the open-source software available to Linux users. That kind of flexibility is why Apple continues to have such a strong core constituency with "creatives" (small, high-value companies that rely on high personal creativity as a measure of productivity). It also makes the Mac increasingly attractive as a development platform for applications of all sorts; Mac OS X systems have a strong following at Sun, for example, where many developers working on the companys latest Java development tools used Macs. In fact, if anything has made Apples desktop strategy obsolete, its Apples portable strategy. The PowerBook and iBook lines have reached the point where they offer the same (or better) functionality as similarly priced desktops. So, why buy into the bifurcated marketing approach that PC vendors seem to be following? Why split the home and the office apart, the desktop and mobile computing apart, when a single, portable computing device can act as the digital hub at home, as the networked client at work and as both everywhere in between? Besides, Apple already has a platform for going after the media center—the iPod. Easily connected and federated devices such as the iPod make specialized "media" PCs pointless. When everything you need to present media can be brought down to a simple, portable, reliable device that can connect to existing consumer electronics devices rather than supplant them, why use a complex, unreliable, insecure technology base instead? Check out eWEEK.coms Macintosh Center at for the latest in news, reviews and analysis about Apple in the enterprise. Be sure to add our Macintosh news feed to your RSS newsreader or My Yahoo page:  

Sean Gallagher is editor of Ziff Davis Internet's enterprise verticals group. Previously, Gallagher was technology editor for Baseline, before joining Ziff Davis, he was editorial director of Fawcette Technical Publications' enterprise developer publications group, and the Labs managing editor of CMP's InformationWeek. A former naval officer and former systems integrator, Gallagher lives and works in Baltimore, Maryland.

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