Mac Accommodation

By David Morgenstern  |  Posted 2007-03-09 Print this article Print

: What a Difference a Decade Makes"> One interesting point here is that over time, in small ways, Ciscos IT department has changed its practices to support the Mac. This has happened despite the policy of no support for the Mac. For example, the engineer said many tools that didnt work within Cisco settings, including wireless and video meeting software, have been reworked to be more open.
"Cisco now accepts Safari as standard browser in most server applications. There are a few holdout applications, but most Mac users have learned how to navigate around them," he said.
However, I am still struck by the contrast of todays grudging acceptance of the Mac with the past. The current movement towards the Mac sounds positive and the despite the lack of internal support, the community of users is upbeat. A dozen or so years ago, following the release of Windows 95 and then Windows NT, the Mac community was in a different place. Its no exaggeration to say that user groups within organizations were under siege. I well remember a series of painful MacWEEK articles in 1996 by my colleague Henry Norr about the fight to keep the Mac at NASAs Johnson Space Center in Houston. The series won a Computer Press Association award for Norr and we sat together at the awards banquet in New York. At the time, the Space Centers IT management decided to eliminate "unnecessary diversity" and phase out about 3,000 Macs and replace them with PCs running Windows 95. This was about a third of the desktops at the site. To the CIO pushing migration at the time, the costs of duplication of services as well as interoperability hassles threatened the centers ability to carry out its mission of "Better, Faster, Cheaper." He dismissed Mac users as "Mac huggers" (like environmentalist tree huggers). Is a perfect storm of Mac upgrade sales on the horizon? Click here to read more. "Making me take a Pentium is like cutting off my right hand and sewing on a left hand," one of the NASA Mac users told Norr about his forced migration to Windows. "Ill learn to use the left hand, but theres no doubt my productivity is going to suffer, and Im going to resent it." Despite a fight that brought in the press, Congressmen and an Inspector General investigation (with a report that sided with the Mac users), eventually the battle was lost. The Mac was out. But see how much we think differently today about these computing goals. The common wisdom of a homogenous computing environment seems to be cracking. Mac users make the case that Apples hardware and software platform are better than comparable Windows PCs. And thats accepted today. After all, the Mac is mostly a PC nowadays. Open standards are seen as a benefit and a strategic goal within organizations. The Mac plays well with others. So, perhaps Cisco shows how the Mac will recover its foothold in the enterprise. Not with a big splash of acceptance, but with the slow advance towards official support. Or not. The Mac users at Cisco seem to be doing okay without the blessing from above. Sites will gradually add support for the Mac because that support will help get the work done. Most likely the same tweaks that improve compatibility with the Mac also improve compatibility for Linux users. And since some of the new Mac users are C-level executives, it will become increasingly tough for the IT department to keep saying "no." Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news in desktop and notebook computing.

David Morgenstern is Executive Editor/Special Projects of eWEEK. Previously, he served as the news editor of Ziff Davis Internet and editor for Ziff Davis' Storage Supersite.

In 'the days,' he was an award-winning editor with the heralded MacWEEK newsweekly as well as eMediaweekly, a trade publication for managers of professional digital content creation.

David has also worked on the vendor side of the industry, including companies offering professional displays and color-calibration technology, and Internet video.

He can be reached here.


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