InfoWorld CTO ‘can’t afford to spend time supporting Macs’

“About every six months, a particular event in my life as a working CTO forces me to step back and reconsider the Mac as an enterprise platform. Sometimes it’s a discovery I make on my own as a PowerBook user, other times it’s a new software release. This time, it was a simple question from a new salesperson we had just hired: Can I use a Mac here? Peering over the Cinema Display connected to my PowerBook, where I had just been typing, I said, “If you promise not to ask for support or help of any kind, sure.” He quickly agreed to take a PC. This short exchange raised a few issues about Mac support in the enterprise that I hadn’t fully considered until now,” Chad Dickerson writes for InfoWorld (Dickerson is InfoWorld’s Chief Technology Officer).

“The most hardcore Mac evangelists would have you believe that Macs require little end-user support, but with Apple reigniting sales primarily through consumer technology (some call the iPod the “gateway drug” to the OS X platform), I think corporate IT could potentially face a whole crop of end-users who are not the kind of self-supporting Mac enthusiasts to which we’ve all grown accustomed,” Dickerson writes.

“Whenever I even hint at the difficulties of running a Mac in a Windows world, my inbox is flooded with Virtual PC testimonials… Compared to an actual hardware PC, Virtual PC is hardly proof that you can run Windows applications on a Mac,” Dickerson explains. “I will continue to use a Mac because I like it, and I’m willing to support myself 100 percent, but I’m not going to spend my time evangelizing Macs to people who probably should be using PCs. I’m too busy.”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Dickerson will support himself on a Mac because he likes it, but wouldn’t it make sense and be beneficial to the company to have other employees on the Mac platform that they’d probably like better (and also want to spend more time working with), too? Why should they “probably be using PCs?” Are they gamers? Perhaps it’s because “that’s the way it’s always been?” Perhaps your company has painted itself into a corner by shortsightedly instituting some Windows-only solution(s) in the past? If so, is that the Mac platform’s fault or is your company’s decision-making process really the issue? If you had insisted on cross-platform solutions, thereby leaving your options open in the future, you’d have no need for emulating platforms with kludges like Virtual PC.

Perhaps you’ve hired a bunch of Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer’s in the past, so to justify their existence on the payroll, you need to keep the Windows platform widespread, so that it will accept your MCSE’s repeated applications of patches for patches that should have been patched before the last patch, but weren’t fully patched until the second to last patch was patched by the latest patch?

Why does the InfoWorld CTO deign to provide himself with (and support himself upon) the superior Mac platform, but seems to feel that the worker bees should have to suffer with the lowly Windows? Condescend much, Mr. Dickerson?

41 Comments

  1. I use a Mac in a pc world, and don’t use Virtual PC. In fact, we’re a Novell institution, so I have to use Groupwise. I have no problems. I can access our server without a problem, edit my documents in Office v.X, send and receive email through the Groupwise web client (I have the java Groupwise client, too, but it’s way to slow to be all that useful). No problems so far, and our tech people love me, because I never call!

  2. Consider this, IT leaders:
    Maybe you’re too busy to consider OS X because of all the attention, IT staff, and money your windows network requires to run, because so many CTOs bought the ‘platform standardization’ BS that was promoted for years as a “cost-saving measure.” It has led to the equivalent of biological non-diversity, wherein infections and vulnerabilities affect the whole IT ecosystem.

    Protocol and file format standardization is the key, not platform standardization. Had organizations diversified their “platform holdings” as anyone investing knows is the key to stability and growth, we wouldn’t be in the money drain mess we’re in now.

    The only way back is for individuals like Mr. Dickerson to be brave and require more from their vendors– “No OS diversity? No business from us.” “Only know Windows, Mr. IT applicant? Then you’re doomed not to recognize when better ways of doing things come along. Learn to think outside the ‘MS box.’ Come back when you have a Linux or OS X certification.”

  3. I have used a Mac in a PC technology world with great success for many years now. My primary wish list for Apple is to make their Mail and iCal programs compatible with an Exchange server. I am forced into using Entourage which does not have the nice compatibility with iSync that Mail and iCal do. This is a problem for synchronization with your cell phone. The one other area of compatibility problems I have are with Microsoft programs (of course). PowerPoint files do not always show the same way on a Mac as a PC and as a result I sometimes get presentations that look funny when I receive them from co-workers using PCs. These are annoyances that I am more than willing to put up with, however, for all of the other benefits of OSX and the PowerBook platform.

  4. Idiot! His company would save a lot of support time and money and he knows it. But he is to dumb and scared to do anything about it. Put people on Macs where they could be used and only have the people running PC’s where maybe a software restriction would not make it possible to have a Mac.
    At least the people running Macs would be able to concentrate on there work and not on fighting viruses, trojans, spyware, and malware. Not to mention hackers and bluescreens. Maybe you would actually get some work done? Imagine that?

  5. Clearly, his biggest problem is that he has implemented Windows-only solutions. The changes he could implement would eventually allow an open house where people’s computer preference made no difference. It’s simple: at upgrade time, migrate to a cross-platform solution.

    As for back-up, as important as it is, it is my experience that Mac HDs crash and burn considerably less frequently than those in PCs. I don’t know why. I am, however, constantly bombarded by comments from PC users that their HDs have died. I never hear it from Mac users. Company data is important but it is unlikely that it will be the crashed Mac that has lost the only copy of something. Get your Macs to backup to a folder on the server. Get your backup arrangements to back up that folder.

  6. What did I just say? Incompetent. You will need to support people for fewer hours in a day, so you have more time to support those who need “education.”

    But then IT people cringe at the prospect of actually having to teach someone how to use a computer. They don’t frigging know how to use computers for USEFUL functions, they only know how to fix networks and diagnose bad power supplise. But don’t EVEN ask them how to turn Excel into a useful tool.

    It’s a sad state of affairs when a Mac users is as lazily arrogant as this dolt.

    Or is he smart like a fox? If they all used Macs, maybe he might lose his job? Oh wait, he’s CTO. An incompetent one, for sure.

  7. I can see this guys point of view. No matter how much we’d like to be a source of Mac converts, do we have time to become the tech support department? Certainly Macs don’t require much tech support, but I don’t think average person can set up an email client like Outlook without going to the help section of their mail provider and following the step-by-step instructions found there. Since most email providers don’t offer step-by-step instructions for Mail, they would be lost. I have the only Mac in my company, and I have no problems except that I can’t name file save saved on our Windows 2000 server with names over 31 characters for some reason. I had to buy the Mac with my own money which I had no problem doing, I mean who wants to spend all day in front of a PC? I’d probably fall behind on my own projects if I had to explain to someone why they can’t find the START button or the DEFRAG program.

  8. Why switch? Apple has done little that is compelling enough to warrant the lost productivity.

    There are many opportunity costs involved: software crossgrading, file compatibility, hardware costs, retraining, time and effort.

    Even a seasoned Mac fan working in IT will have a hard time selling the switch. The gains are minimal compared to the cost.

    It’s so easy to spend someone else’s money!

    MDN, if you can’t show (with a realistic cost:benefit analysis) you should shut up.

  9. Why switch? Apple has done little that is compelling enough to warrant the lost productivity.

    There are many opportunity costs involved: software crossgrading, file compatibility, hardware costs, retraining, time and effort.

    Even a seasoned Mac fan working in IT will have a hard time selling the switch. The gains are minimal compared to the cost.

    It’s so easy to spend someone else’s money!

    MDN, if you can’t show (with a realistic cost:benefit analysis) you should shut up.

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