Help me help them to stop drinking the Microsoft Kool Aid!
May 17, 2010 1:12 PM   Subscribe

Help me convince my team of the superior-awesomeness of Macs!

Under direction of the Board of Directors I have been tasked with looking into switching our moderately sized non-profit from Windows to Mac.

The organization uses a heavy dose of staff input on decisions like this, so to be successful I must sell the idea of Macs to my coworkers.

The Boss, The Finance Person, The Scientist and the Membership Person will take the most convincing that making the switch will be in their best interest.

There are a few staff members (1/3) that are convinced already. So what I need is concrete examples and statistics of how Macs save money, power, headaches and more!

Please hit me with your best arguments and counter points about why this would be a good thing for us to do!
posted by Fuzzy Dog to Computers & Internet (27 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
The biggest reason I use Macs both personally and professionally is that Windows machines take way too much care and feeding. You're constantly having to run updates, figure out spyware solutions, weed out viruses, etc.

There are certainly updates for OSX, but it takes a lot less time and attention to keep it running.

Also, once you have a mac, migrating to the next one is super incredibly easy.
posted by ged at 1:17 PM on May 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

You need to find out what programs each of the key stakeholders use. Then you need to know what programs can be used on the Mac and how different they are (bonus points if there's a program that is acknowledged by users to be easier and better.)

In essence, you convince them not just by stats and examples, but by addressing their biggest question: how will this affect me?

Unless you know what their needs are and are prepared with info about equivalent or better programs, you're going to fail.

Build a case of How This Will Improve Your Work targeted at actual users (instead of some abstract Macs are better because X) and you're good to go.
posted by canine epigram at 1:19 PM on May 17, 2010 [2 favorites]

I have done a baseline needs assessment, and and there are a few things that would have to be virtualized - mainly the way the scientist collects data from field stations. In general they mostly use the basic Office tools that everyone uses, and like most places, they don't use them very deeply.

I like the idea of how it will affect them directly.

For folks who have made the shift (maybe even a little reluctantly) what do you see as the greatest strength?
posted by Fuzzy Dog at 1:28 PM on May 17, 2010

Simply point them to Microsoft's own Windows 7 upgrade page. Which begins Step 1, purchase an external hard drive... and continues in the vein of be prepared to lose hours and hours of productivity, and quite possibly some of your applications and data files.

Don't let them fall into the trap the Windows 7 is somehow better than XP. It is the same freaking OS, just dressed up. It still has the registry, it still has DLLs, and it still don't know squat about your hardware until you install dozens of drivers.

Then if they still resist point them to Parallels. A better Windows than Windows.
posted by Gungho at 1:28 PM on May 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

When they work, they work very, very, very well. Almost seamless. Which is, in my experience, 99.999% of the time.

However, when they don't work, expect your Mac to melt into a smoldering hunk, either figuratively or literally - I had one die when the HD case started carving grooves into the HD plates, and the machine started smelling weird. Such as this weekend, when my Mac became a doorstop when I tried to apply an OS upgrade. At least I have AppleCare - which is turning the process of getting my machine operation merely a time and data sink, instead of time, data and $$$.

If you do choose to go with Macs, get the AppleCare. If you ever need to use it, you will not regret it.
posted by spinifex23 at 1:33 PM on May 17, 2010 [2 favorites]

1) Support, great support, great human support and followup. Transition requires some relearning, don't fudge that, but the operating-system differences that are transparent to users are pretty much on the surface; and Apple has superb support for the transition and later. Differences with Microsoft are amazing.
2) Relearning will happen no matter which new system you choose -- by the time I fixed the bugs and set the settings in my PC, the next OS version would wipe out what I liked and give me a whole lot of new stuff I didn't want. Couldn't stand it anymore and couldn't see any reason NOT to switch to Mac. Plus thought it would be another system under my belt and good brain exercise. Not as hard as I thought. Best decision ever.
Otherwise, what canine epigram said.
posted by Bet Glenn at 1:36 PM on May 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

I would look at it from what's the benefit and detriment as an organization to migrate?

-Office Suites/Productivity software. Do you all already use a lot of Office on Windows? Macs have iWork, which after using for a year, I much prefer using over Office. OTOH, if you plan on sharing work with a lot of Windows users, this could be a pain as formatting can get lost when format shifting. Macs also have Microsoft Office.

-What about E-Mail? How dependent on Outlook or whatever software are ya'll? If your organization is very dependent on Outlook, this could be an issue as migrating from Outlook at Mac can be a pain (though it can be done). OTOH, if you use web-based e-mail, no problem.

-Windows only programs. While my school migrated to Macs last year, we still have Windows-dependent databases and financial software that necessitates the continues maintenance of Windows. Not necessarily a bad thing, but something to consider.

-Media applications. You basically have the iLife suite for podcasting, video editing, dvd creation, and lite photo editing versus a mishmash of Windows applications. How/will this affect your organization?

-Who is going to maintain all this? You all will probably want a Mac server to manage the Macs. Having somebody with Linux chops doesn't hurt, either.

--If you really want to go with Macs, look at each category and figure out why your organization would benefit from using Macs. I could answer those questions in more detail from an education perspective, but that might not apply to your situation.

On Preview: Then if they still resist point them to Parallels. A better Windows than Windows.

I disagree. I use Parallels for our db and it's slow. A number of administrators use Parallels and have had nothing but problems. Windows can crash inside Parallels just as easily.

For folks who have made the shift (maybe even a little reluctantly) what do you see as the greatest strength?

All the Apple products work together very tightly. When I create something in iPhoto, that items is easily accessible in all my other Apple programs. Same concept applies pretty much across the board. Instead of always having to find where I last saved an item on my PC, the Mac is great about storing my digital content in libraries so certain types of data is readily accessible. Windows 7 has its own form of libraries, but I haven't messed with them.

Tech support is much better. I have one number to call for all my OS/Hardware/Most of my software issues. I haven't had to deal with the "Uhhh, it must be the other company's fault!" runaround.
posted by jmd82 at 1:39 PM on May 17, 2010

My wife's office just converted to Macs. Overall, the move went well. There were definite stumbles along the way (most of which were, and continue to be, issues with the Apple Consultants who put the plan together.)

A couple of things to keep in mind. With Snow Leopard, Apple killed-off a lot of printer compatibility. Double, triple-check what printers your organization has versus what printers OS X now supports. Also, if your organization has some big multi-function workhorse printer, it may be "supported"...but only after you pay to have a Postscript module installed. And, even then, you may not get full support of all functions. My wife's office ended-up with a partially-supported Savin workstation because of this sort of thing. Savin keeps promising updated drivers...sometime.

Also...Does your organization rely on, say, an Access database? If so, you have two choices. 1) Install Windows on the Macs, or 2) Pay to convert the Access db to something OS X understands. The latter choice can be blindingly expensive. As in 5-figures expensive. The former option may not make sense if a large portion of the company uses Access regularly. I mean, if 3/4 of the company is going to spend a good deal of their work day in Windows anyway, why not just stick with Windows machines?

FWIW, your local Apple store (if you have one) can pair you up with a consultant who will come in and give you the whole sales pitch. They will look over your needs and draw-up a migration plan.
posted by Thorzdad at 1:41 PM on May 17, 2010

Is there some reason the people who want and work best with a Mac can't get a Mac, and the others can stay on Windows?

Every office I've ever worked in has some Macs and some Windows. I would be highly highly resentful if someone told me what OS I would work on, rather than asking me.

The Boss, The Finance Person, The Scientist and the Membership Person will take the most convincing that making the switch will be in their best interest.
It won't be. You either ram it down their throat, or you let them keep the computer they work well with. I mean, I guess you can give them Windows in a virtual machine on the Mac. I don't really see the point of that, but if "ALL MACS ALL THE TIME" is seriously the mandate from up top, that is the best way to let them continue to do their jobs efficiently and happily. Oh and let them keep their Windows peripherals (keyboard and mouse), rather than the stylish but borderline-unusable things Apple provides out of the box.
posted by drjimmy11 at 1:44 PM on May 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

Better customer service, easier to care for and a just plain cleaner/simpler user experience. Probably a longer service life, as Apple tends to support hardware for a long time. My 3 year old iMac is still feeling totally usable.

Almost no one goes back to a PC after switching to Macs. The whole experience is more streamlined, unified in look and feel, and pretty. Pretty is surprisingly important when you're stuck in front of the big glowing box for 8 hours at a crack. The file system makes a lot more sense (IMO) and there's just a lot more usefulness built-in. You won't need to download some extra software to read a PDF file. A PDF VIEWER, FOR CHRIST'S SAKE!

That said, it depends a lot on what you do.

MS Office on OS X is an infuriating POS. Excel is _vastly_ slower when working with large spreadsheets. Excel is faster running in Parallels/XP than natively, I kid you not. Powerpoint slide formatting can be off a little bit. Even MS Word runs significantly slower than on a PC. It's very, very hard to make the argument for Macs from a cost-savings standpoint if MS Office and email is all you're doing.
posted by pjaust at 1:50 PM on May 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

You can talk to them about the marvels of Macs until you're blue in the face, but to convince them they need to see why it's worth it to them to relearn how to use their computers if they are not already familiar with Macs. Unless this is something they enjoy doing in general or already have the knowledge to make the switch, this is gonna be a big hassle for them that is going to need an especially large and tasty carrot on the other side tailored to each of their individual needs. To be honest, if someone was telling me I'd have to virtualize within Mac just to do my science data collection, I would be seriously questioning why I should be switching at all...that sounds like a hassle.
posted by asciident at 1:51 PM on May 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

There are a lot of small things. Stuff built-in to Mac OS X that Windows simply doesn't have. One example I use (that may not apply to your organization) is the Terminal program. I know any Mac I go to will have it, so I can SSH into my webserver with no problem as long as I can get on a Mac. On Windows you don't have this (the Windows command line only supports Telnet for remote login). Being able to "Print to PDF" is a godsend. Other things, like Preview app are great, too. There's a long list of stuff that you can do on an "out of the box" OS X machine that simply isn't possible on Windows until you install a lot of 3rd-party software.

Other somewhat intangibles: Fonts look better on screen. The interface is less cluttered. Programs look like they were made in the 21st century, instead of using 8-bit icons from 1992. Hooking up peripherals "just works".
posted by buckaroo_benzai at 1:52 PM on May 17, 2010

Oh, and I forgot to mention the one thing I miss most when I'm on my work PC: The Mac's Spotlight feature. I'm fairly organized, but even I can't keep track of everything. On my Mac, as long as I can remember some information that is inside the file, such as a key word, a customer's name, an address, etc Spotlight will find it for me. It also indexes other stuff like emails, the address book, web bookmarks, etc. On Windows, if you don't know a file's exact file name, the built-in search won't find it. Completely useless.

Other things such as app management are a breeze. Most apps on the Mac are a single file (there are exceptions for the old crusty monsters like MS Office and Photoshop). To "install" an app you just download it and drag it to your apps folder. Done. To "uninstall" it, just drag it to the trash. Done.

All of these little and seemingly minor things can add up cumulatively to make you a LOT more productive on a Mac. I'm not kidding when I say I could easily get twice as much work done at work if they'd just let me use a Mac (even though I'd still have to run ArcMap in Parallels). Windows is terrible and Microsoft should be really really ashamed at how awful it is.
posted by buckaroo_benzai at 2:02 PM on May 17, 2010

Time and money. Macs may cost more out the door but they will save a lot of time and money in the long run (my Macs are usable 99.99% of the time whereas PCs need to be coddled, scanned, deloused and updated constantly).

I don't have hard metrics but I support schools running both Macs and PCs and the vast majority of my repair calls are for PCs. With the Macs, I get them set up properly and then generally do not have to touch them.

And yeah, esthetics count. To me the Mac OS is elegant and easy to navigate and just works without having to monkey around all the time.
posted by fenriq at 2:49 PM on May 17, 2010

Okay, okay... I'll be the devil's advocate here. I think both Macs and PCs offer pros and cons. While I'm usually happy using either there are a couple misconceptions being put forth here. I'm responsible for about 60 PCs at my work running on a Win Server 2008 domain driven back bone. Also, I've worked in labs and offices for years now and have never been in a work place with both Macs and PCs playing together on a network as someone stated above. Nor do we give users at my work place the option of equipment/OS/software unless their job dictates it.

We've upgraded about half a dozen machines to Windows 7. While I'll agree that it doesn't offer a whole lot of difference for a non-power XP user, I will also testify that the upgrades averaged about 30 minutes. The one completely fresh install I did of Win 7 required ZERO driver hunts and took about 20 minutes. So while Gungho maybe have read the Microsoft upgrade page, having done it in real life several times I'll assert that Windows 7 is the easiest version of Windows to set-up to date. Users upgrading to 7 will lose the most time playing with the desktop widget crap than the actual upgrade. Seriously, when we did the first one my boss was like 'WTF?! It can't be done already....'

As for support. Most people that have been using Macs for years tout the support as being stellar. Apple is a closed system... you get the OS and hardware from the same place. They have better support in that you call one person, true. However, I've had more Mac friends come to me for help with their personal computers after Apple has let them down than friends with Dell machines that couldn't find a solution with Dell.

The third thing I'd like to touch on is that I work with a lot of scientists. They work with a lot of old data logging equipment. Some pieces of equipment are old enough that they use software and connectors that are older than I am. Stuff the tech world doesn't even manufacture any more. You better be 110% sure that any Mac platform you switch to is compatible with their stuff. If you convince them it is to only find out later that you can't virtualize a solution you'll have signed your own angry scientist death warrant.

Macs are pretty, PCs are versatile. Just make sure you can find a solution for your scientists before you invest a heap of time convincing your co-workers that Mac is where it be at.
posted by Gainesvillain at 2:52 PM on May 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

On Windows, if you don't know a file's exact file name, the built-in search won't find it.

I just got a nice new machine at the office with Windows 7 and the search is fine. Spotlight is nicer, but Windows will let you search inside files no problem these days.
posted by kindall at 3:21 PM on May 17, 2010

As the hypothetical scientist component of the above scenario I can't 2nd Gainvillians concerns enough. Data logging gear can be very old and very finicky. The thought of attempting to plug something that communicates with the outside world via a proprietary parallel or serial port into a shinny new mac would be funny if it wasn't so terrifying. There are some pieces of equipment out there that will never talk to anything newer than a XP machine no matter what adapters, drivers or virtualization is used, even if they technically should. Also there may be no new alternative data loggers and if new loggers exist you are going to have to add those to your budget. You really need to make sure everything works on a mac and I doubt it will.
posted by Procloeon at 5:27 PM on May 17, 2010

I want to second Gainesvillain's comment. Speaking from the scientist's perspective, there are all kinds of data loggers out there with Windows-only drivers (or DOS-only, etc.). Also, a significant portion of the specialized scientific software out there exists only for Windows. If somebody bought me a Mac and I just spent used it to run BootCamp all day, I'd probably wonder why I had a Mac in the first place.

No matter what kind of change you make, please make sure you have assessed your users' legitimate needs first, and then made your computer purchasing decision based on their responses. You said that your organization weighs heavily on your staff input, but it sounds like you've already decided that your users "need" a Mac, and you aren't sure why. There are plenty of valid reasons to prefer Macs, and there are plenty of valid reasons to prefer PCs. However, if I found out that the person who bought my computer decided what I was getting and then had to post on an internet forum to figure out why, I probably wouldn't want that person in charge of buying computers anymore.
posted by wondercow at 5:55 PM on May 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

Glad to hear Windows 7's search is better than the one in XP, but I still think my complaint is valid since a lot of organizations are apparently sticking with XP these days (from what I read, anyway, manufacturers like Dell still offer XP on NEW computers because so many users are staying away from Vista and 7).

For me it comes down to the quality of the hardware and software plus the tight integration found in Macs. Apple has spent many years making Mac OS X amazing and seamless. Heck, more than once they've even made it where later versions of OS X were faster than previous versions on the same hardware (just try that with Windows!). Compare this to Microsoft, where yeah Windows 7 looks great and has a lot of new features... But "under the hood" it still has a registry, DLLs, and all that bullcrap from the '80s. Personally, I don't want to support a company that is trying to foist that crap on me as a user year after year. They've had plenty of time to fix it. Apple knew when to throw away OS 9 and start over. When will Microsoft throw away Windows?
posted by buckaroo_benzai at 6:15 PM on May 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

Another perspective: used to work as IT for a social service agency. Oregon required PCs, thus had to switch from Macs to PCs. Law trumped function. Your legal dept. may have info.

Another perspective: all the arguments on cost and many arguments on ease apply to ubuntu over mac as mac over windows.
posted by eccnineten at 1:49 AM on May 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

"The biggest reason I use Macs both personally and professionally is that Windows machines take way too much care and feeding. You're constantly having to run updates, figure out spyware solutions, weed out viruses, etc."

Sorry, I can't let that go by unchecked. I use OSX and Windows daily. Windows updates either take care of themselves, or prompt me to click a balloon once. There's the occasional annoyance that a restart is required at the end of the update which can at least be postponed, if only by a maximum of (if I recall) 45 minutes. OSX updates put a dialogue box in the middle of the screen that more often than not will require a restart to install. There is more down time associated with the install since it takes place mid-reboot. I can postpone it, but I need to look into whether it's a security issue I should deal with right away, or whether it's just Mr. Jobs further crippling my iTunes software, which I don't even use any way.

Viruses should not be a problem on a properly set up Windows PC. Yes, there's time involved in setting it up properly, but very little after that.

As has been mentioned, if you're looking into wholesale change it'd be wrong to ignore linux, but I think you'll find that the risks associated with maintenance steer you away from it. The reason to plump for either macs of Win-boxes is to me largely one of any specialist software or hardware that your people need. If the software is better on either system (see the Excel case above for an example) then you probably have a water-tight case to go for it. Without this, unless anyone can provide proper data on Macs saving money on maintenance (this was the clever thing to ask -- I'm glad you did -- interesting that so far no data has been forthcoming), I think the extra expense of Apple hardware, lovely as we all agree it is, is hard to justify.
posted by nthdegx at 3:13 AM on May 18, 2010

Speaking of Excel, Office 2008 (for Mac) doesn't support VBA--if there's anything complex in Office that folks are doing it's entirely possible they need it. My mom's a Mac user who is not at all an Office power user and even she's been bitten by this.
posted by phoenixy at 6:59 AM on May 18, 2010

Glad to hear Windows 7's search is better than the one in XP, but I still think my complaint is valid since a lot of organizations are apparently sticking with XP these days (from what I read, anyway, manufacturers like Dell still offer XP on NEW computers because so many users are staying away from Vista and 7).

They can install Windows Desktop Search and get the Vista/7 search, then. But you can't get a new PC with Windows XP anymore, I don't think, unless it's an ultra-low-cost model.

Remember the old saw about Microsoft needing three tries to get something right? Windows 7 is essentially the fourth release of Vista, as Vista has had two service packs n addition to its original release.
posted by kindall at 7:42 AM on May 18, 2010

Microsoft Office 2011 for Mac (due later this year) will support VBA.

See this article on AppleInsider
posted by buckaroo_benzai at 8:08 AM on May 18, 2010

Buckaroo, what's with slamming Windows for not having features current versions actually do have, then turning around and plugging Mac Office for a feature it may get later this year?

Look, I like Macs as well but I don't think the OP or anyone else here has made a good case for Macs beyond just liking them better. And I'm a quick Google search didn't turn up any promising case studies showing the benefits of Mac. As someone who does a lot of work in Excel I get a bit irritated every time I have to do some work on my home computer, a MacBook, because it's so much slower than the Windows version, even on similarly specced machines. Never mind the current lack of VBA. I'd be pretty annoyed if my work moved us to Macs just on the recommendation of someone liking them better without actually considering what software we use and how we use it. Especially if they then turned around and said "hey, you can use Bootcamp or Parallels".
posted by 6550 at 12:26 PM on May 18, 2010

I wasn't plugging Mac office, just pointing out that the upcoming version will support VBA again. And my experience with Windows is based on XP, the version that was out for what... 6 or 7 years before Vista? And it was like, total crap. 6+ years of no major improvements, only hundreds of security updates etc. I admit I haven't used Win 7 yet. Hey, if they finally got it right, that's great. But MS went for almost a decade putting out really shitty operating systems (XP and Vista). And in some way, I'm sure Win 7 still sucks no matter how pretty it is (I mean, it still has a registry and DLLs, right? Apps still throw files all over the place when you install them, right? WHY?)

In this time they were leapfrogged by Apple, who started almost from scratch with Mac OS X (yeah they built it on top of NeXTstep but really it's totally different)... AND in this time Apple completely shifted CPU architecture as well. Microsoft should be embarrassed.

Like I said previously, I don't want to support a company that makes such obviously mediocre software. I can make the same comparison of Excel vs Apple Numbers. Yeah, Numbers can't do everything that Excel can, but it probably does 95% of what most people use it for, and does it twice as well (not to mention that getting rid of that last few percentage points of extraneous features makes it a LOT easier to use for most people). Not once have I used Numbers and thought "Wow, I wish Numbers had feature XYZ that Excel has" (I'm not saying nobody will think this, just me personally, and I used Numbers for my grad school science work). But I HAVE used Excel and thought, many times, "Damn, why doesn't it have feature ABC that Numbers has? It seems so obvious!".

Just my 2 cents...
posted by buckaroo_benzai at 2:57 PM on May 18, 2010

About 5 years ago, I was responsible for overseeing computer support of a medium size organization, about 2/3 Windows, 1/3 Mac. Our support costs ran about 95% for windows to 5% for Mac. I can actually say that the Macs hardly required any support.

Macs just work. You don't have to worry about viruses and malware. The system software seems much more robust. People make good points about the strength of Mac apps. I have always found comfort in the fact that MS Office for Mac is also robust, and therefore .xls = xls, which helps convince the small minded boss types they needn't worry about transferring all their awful powerpoint presentations over.

There can be some teething issues for people switching- things aren't were they expect them to be. It's always easier to get people up and running on Macs who know little about computers, rather than people who know and like Windows.

We did keep a few windows boxes on hand to run GIS applications, since at the time there were no comfortable equivalents for the Mac. We did run some stuff in virtual environments, and that was fine for simple apps, less so for big processor intensive ones.

I've been a Mac person for 15 years. In the early years, I simply couldn't imagine people wanting to run Windows. That gap has closed in recent years, (though you sure wouldn't know it from the Vista debacle).

As the Mac universe is filled to the brim with evangelizing zealots (and with good reason), there should be no shortage of sites on the web which would provide you with the kind of data you need to convince the higher ups. I recall in the past, Apple had some of this on it's own site somewhere. Good luck.
posted by MacChimpman at 10:29 AM on May 23, 2010

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