Harvard Medical School CIO picks Mac OS X over Linux and Windows

“John Halamka has a penchant for experiments with new technologies. In 2004, the now 44-year-old CIO of the Harvard Medical School and CareGroup, which runs the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, who is also a practicing emergency room physician, was one of the first people to have an RFID chip containing a link to his medical records implanted in his body,” Meridith Levinson reports for CIO.

“The PCs inside the hospital have to work too. So when Halamka’s laptop running Windows XP interrupted several presentations with inopportune antivirus and application updates, he decided his next big initiative would be to determine which desktop operating system—Windows XP, Apple’s OS X or Linux—is the most secure, most reliable and easiest to use in a corporate environment,” Levinson reports. “For three months, Halamka ditched his Windows laptop. He replaced it first with a MacBook running OS X. Then he spent a month using a Lenovo ThinkPad X41 running a dual-boot configuration of Red Hat Enterprise Linux Workstation and Red Hat Fedora Core. Finally, he took up a Dell D420 subnotebook running Microsoft’s Windows XP.”

“Halamka judged the three operating systems according to a variety of criteria including their performance, user interfaces and enterprise management capabilities, such as the ability to configure applications, easily organize file systems, and establish granular security control,” Levinson reports. “Halamka tested the operating systems himself before testing them with users because he wanted to know firsthand what problems users might encounter and get a sense of whether his IT department will be able to easily and cost effectively maintain the platform. He conducted the experiment before the release of Apple’s Leopard and Microsoft’s Vista operating systems for two reasons: He had the time in his schedule to learn the nuances of the different operating systems, and he prefers testing established, stable technologies rather than new releases.”

“‘I used to think that the Macintosh was something used by free spirits just to be different,’ he says. ‘Now I realize the Mac has such superior human factor engineering that it’s used by people because they can be more productive. If Apple comes up with a 2- or 2.5-pound 12-inch-screen laptop that runs cool, has better integration with Exchange, and if Vista turns out to be the beast it could be, then I probably will move to a Mac,'” Levinson reports.

Full article – very comprehensive – with much more here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “GimliNZ” for the heads up.]

MacDailyNews Take: Sounds like Apple should rethink a replacement for the 12-inch PowerBook. A lightweight 12-inch MacBook Pro would be a welcome addition to Apple’s portable lineup.


  1. We’re talking ONE inch here with a Macbook. I don’t think that’s a deal killer.

    The heat maybe.

    The real issue is exchange, I doubt it will improve for the Mac. Microsoft is not interested in making it better for Apple, it would only hurt them.

  2. I am using a 12″ / 1.5GHz Al Powerbook and it is great for travel. Because it is full-featured, it weighs in around 4.6 lb, not 2.5 lb. But you don’t have to carry external optical drives and such with you to achieve full functionality, either. I don’t know if it is worth Apple’s effort to create an ultra-portable. But the rumored Mac tablet may fill that bill…

  3. Please Apple, make a much smaller MacBook Pro! My PB 12″ 1.5Ghz is starting to feel a little slow. Who wouldn’t fall in love with a tiny, light, fast, even more portable MacBook Pro?!

    Magic Word: sure. As in Apple would be onto a sure winner.

  4. This is a big deal because until the Intel switch, Apple wasn’t even a consideration. Once Leopard comes out, imagine how enticing Spaces will be. In one quadrant, Windows and your I-need-Windows-for-this-app, in the other 3, everything that makes a mac a mac. With the click of a button, Windows comes (and goes) only when needed. This will make a lot of people very happy.

  5. I know of a few people that would really enjoy seeing a new 12″ MBP. We talk about it often.

    The G4 was lightweight, ultra portable, and had a super low footprint. There definately is a market for such a computer.

    Come on Apple!

  6. …So when Halamka’s laptop running Windows XP interrupted several presentations with inopportune antivirus and application updates…

    How anyone could ever tolerate the above is one fscking BIG measure of consumer stupidity.

    MW: “decision” as in what’s there to think about?


    Having used XP since 2002, he’s noticed that the more applications he installs, the slower and more unstable the operating system becomes. So to keep it in tip-top shape, he’s keeping his software stack simple. He vowed to install as few additional applications as possible and to install only Microsoft manufactured and branded software at that (except for Firefox).

    By taking those steps, Halamka says he’s achieved “a version of XP that actually hasn’t crashed in 30 days. “As long as I keep [the OS] in that totally static state, it’ll be OK.”

    If you give yourself system administrator privileges and you install software and serve a lot of websites, the likelihood that the OS will be corrupted is high. You can prevent yourself from getting hurt, but you have to have a really locked down environment,” he says.


    So how does anyone ever justify using Windows on that basis? Nice one Microsoft…

  8. Interesting. After spending all that time and effort and deciding that Apples OS is better, easier and more productive, he settles on a lighter weight or if Vista is a real pig.!!!!!

    I guess its that those doctors have to carry their laptops so far and so often that the extra lb or two is just a killer. Virsus and spyware stealing medical records are a non issue cause the doctors don’t keep their own records on the system. LOL

    “If all hell breaks loose, then I will move the remails to Apple. Oh wait, there wont be any repains. OH well. Merry christmas. ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”grin” style=”border:0;” /> “


  9. Those in the know are switching from MS Exchange: high TCO, not enterprise scallable, unreliable and inefficient. There are better alternatives to enterprise workgroup solutions, for example Oracle Collaboration Suite.

    {MacMania or his affiliates are not employed by Oracle Corporation or own any securities of Oracle Corporation}

    ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”raspberry” style=”border:0;” />

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