Macs Need More Ported
Apps"> Overcoming the burden of not being Windows is not entirely up to Apple. The Macs dependence on third-party developers is acutely felt when the Mac functions as an Exchange client. Marchs 11.2.3 update of Microsoft Exchange 2004 added important features, including the ability to sync calendars and contacts with Mac OS Xs built-in Address Book and iCal programs."Compared to Entourage X [the previous version], the current Entourage is great. Compared to Outlook, its a lousy Exchange client," Edge said. "If youre looking at a lot of messages, youre looking at a lot of beach balls." The spinning beach ball cursor is the Mac equivalent of the Windows hourglass, indicating an unresponsive application. There are also holes that third parties dont fill, mostly in the areas of vertical applications and in-house Web-based applications. The problem of the lack of software is a classic chicken-and-egg scenario. Having more applications running on Macs would enable companies to deploy more Macs, which, in turn, would increase the incentive for developers to port software to the Mac. But Apple isnt doing much to change the status quo. "Apple doesnt cater to the enterprise market," Edge said. "It makes really good computers, and if enterprises want to use it, thats okay with Apple. I cant image Apple co-funding companies to make a Mac client." One way Mac users have been able to get around this problem is through the use of Microsofts Virtual PC to run Windows software not available to Mac OS X. Because Virtual PC emulates an x86 processor, performance is not good, but Virtual PC does do Windows networking well. Paradoxically, the Intel Macs currently have less functionality at running Windows than the PowerPC Macs. Thats because Microsofts Virtual PC doesnt run on the Intel Macs. Although there is now a hack for booting Windows natively on the Intel Macs, it doesnt have the support for the Macs hardware and peripherals that is found in Virtual PC on PowerPC Macs. In January, Microsoft indicated interest in porting Virtual PC to Intel Macs, but did not announce a schedule. But with
Apple now becoming a member of BAPCO (Business Applications Performance), an industry Windows benchmarking group, it looks like Apple may be working on its own Windows virtualization environment.
Perception is everything
One thing that Macs have going for them is a reputation for being better from a security standpoint. Apple frequently releases security patches, including two in the month of March; but except for the recent low-risk Leap-A virus, Mac OS X malware hasnt appeared.
However, bad experiences die hard. Part of the problem of getting the Mac into the enterprise has to do with memories of old incompatibles and the traffic-inducing AppleTalk protocol, which the Cupertino, Calif., company has successful phased out.
"Legacy IT staff sees an Apple computer as messing up their network, bringing down performance of the network," Edge said. "Its a lack of education from IT staff thats holding it back."
Edge said he thinks that Apples transition to Intel processors could change the misperceptions. Replacing the PowerPC processor for an Intel processor doesnt solve the problems of network compatibility, but it does add a certain amount of trust to the platform. Its a touchy-feely perception of a brand image, the kind of feeling that Apple has been successful at exploiting during the past 30 years.
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But Microsofts Entourage still doesnt have the features available to Outlook for Windows, including the support of the Microsoft MAPI (Messaging API) protocol. And performance remains a problem.