Why don't more corporate IT groups standardize around Macs?

My antivirus software says my contract is expired and wants me to renew, but their renewal process ends with Internet Explorer saying it can’t display the web page. While wasting time with all this, it dawned on me to ask why entire corporations don’t settle on Macs for all their employees.

What I’m getting at is that in other threads here, and in discussions elsewhere, I keep hearing about Macs that “they just work”. I bet I could come up with a dozen situations where my company’s IT group spent several days fighting with some stupid PC problem, for me specifically, that seemed like it shouldn’t have happened. Always, I accepted what seemed the conventional wisdom - nobody actually thinks Windows is a good operating system, but everybody has to use it, because everybody else uses it, and the IT group can’t support two platforms.

But couldn’t entire companies choose Macs instead, and let PCs be the outlawed platform?

I’m sure some do, but why don’t most? Is it not true that Macs “just work”? I bet my work PC, which cost about $1500, also has about $10,000 or $20,000 of timewasting battles in it by now.

I am in no way qualified to answer this, so I can only make guesses:

Such as, wouldn’t that create compatibility problems with other companies/systems?

How well do Macs run web servers as compared to a PC/ASP.net web server or Linux/PHP/Apache web server?

How useable are the mac versions of all the typical applications one must use in an office?

How likely are Macs to be able to run bespoke software that some companies require?

(Such as mine, which runs a parimutuel wagering system designed for a windows environment)

ETA: How likely are current or potential employees to know the first thing about using a Mac? I imagine learning to use one will be fast, but chances are those learning to use it will already know how to use a PC (depending on what part of the world they are in - I believe Macs are more common in the US than elsewhere)

Because IT guys are there to facilitate work, not to create a stable computer network. To work, people need to have programs that do things. Nearly all programs that do things are written for Windows. If you want to do work, then, you have to use Windows.

If they settled on Macs then Macs would be the primary platform upon which virus writers would compose their symphonies.

Macs ‘Just work’ is a bit of hype. They break down a lot more than most people realize.

A lot of people think Windows 7 is a good operating system.

But it’s rather simple why.

Microsoft Office and Windows Server were made ubiquitous in the work environment. You can remotely deploy a workstation build from a server using Windows Server, and Outlook connected with Exchange better for years. Apple is always slow to support exchange server in its products and Exchange is one of the more popular corporate mail servers.

The way a corporation could reduce IT expenditures is by requiring of its employees basic literacy when using a PC. A lot of the problems with a PC are preventable. It’s not very easy to fix a Mac and one has to depend upon their Applecare support to do so. With a PC when a part breaks you can just swap it, particularly if you have a large IT office. It would be less work for me to replace your video card in your PC than to send your iMac back to Apple. In which case they are paying me equal amounts to service both computers. For the most part PCs ‘just work’ also, but you have broader experience with them so you think they break down more than they do and believe that Macs break down less than they do.

In short, an IT department can fix the PCs in house. That’s a major plus. Between that and the clever marriage of backoffice productivity suites and you have a strong market for the PC. Also, you have the IT professionals who are invested in Microsoft and get good deals from Microsoft as a result. They are the ones making proposals and recommendations as to what to buy for the company. There are a lot more CTOs who love Microsoft then Apple.

If you look at the price ratio over time, 40% more expensive, + 300 for Applecare results in every single Mac costing up to 1000 more than a comparable PC. When you need to supply 10,000 machines to your employees, that’s a difference of 10m. The average PC is not receiving 10,000 in maintenance and if it is, you should fire your CTO.

When I was in journalism school there were but two PCs in the building. The professor’s offices, the newsroom, the classrooms, the ad shop and the business office were all full of Macs. It was affordable because the department had an educational deal with Apple.

The Web server and the workstation I used to work on the Web site were both PCs (thank goodness).

There were two IT guys to run the department and trust me, they were plenty busy fixing all of those Macs. There were also plenty of broken down Macs in the newsroom and the classrooms at all times.

In college, the computer lab had some Macs. They also got the educational deal. In the computer lab, when it was full and the Macs were the only ones left or I wanted to broaden my horizons, I’d get on them and finish some of the things I needed to get done. Macs break down, too, and there were plenty of times that I’d get the spinny pinwheel thing that would indicate that the computer isn’t doing a damned thing until it’s done with its spinny pinwheel thing.

Machines are machines. They break. All you’re doing is swapping one set of problems (PC) for another set of problems (Mac).

30% hardware premium. Lack of discounts on that hardware at the same corporate discount rate that HP or Dell or Lenovo will give you (since they are all competing with each other). A need to run software written for Windows - which requires licensing Windows and running it as a VM - adding $200 to the cost of the Mac plus the additional licensing under the VM for a second set of management software. Lack of good image tools for Macs. Lack of really good policy software and management software - often written for Windows machines and when it expands to Macs its as an afterthought. Inability to do self support (most Intel vendors will license your desktop team to replace a motherboard, Apple is a much bigger pain in the back end in this way). Training requirements since the majority of employees come to work familiar with Windows and Windows apps from college or home.

This plus compatibility and some other stuff.

I’ve worked on just about every operating system known to man at some point*. Macs are pretty good. These days PCs are just as good running XP. I haven’t had a chance to mess around with Windows 7 yet but I am hearing good things from co-workers about it.

Macs are freaking expensive. They are nice machines and the OS is pretty slick but in a work environment you don’t need all the pretty. All you need is something that has all the required apps, doesn’t break very often and is cheap. Right now that is a PC running Windows. Linux ain’t there yet.

Plus all the policy management stuff that Dangerosa mentioned.

Then there is the whole training issue. Regardless of what the Apple fans say, it takes as much time to train someone on how to use a Mac as it does a PC.


Built in RDP on PCs. That saves tons of money. I can fix many computer problems across campus without leaving my office; I’d have to walk to the computer to fix a Mac.

Also, if you need software for a one-time purpose, you can usually find free software for a PC; not as often for a Mac.

There also the ability to deploy software to a thousand machines overnight.

I did networking for a company that used Macs and Macs, are more user friendly for the people operating the computer but they are not as good for networking and servers.

Is this a problem of the Mac? No, I used them and they can be used as efficently as Windows PCs, it just takes efforts.

Viruses aren’t just for PCs. Although I’ve read arguments to the contrary, there is no reason to believe should Macs become more popular that more viruses wouldn’t be written for them.

I’ve run networks on PCs and never had issues with viruses as long as I’ve kept up the definitions and such.

The problem is in the corporate world the IT guy has little value. I ran my own business and I would have calls from business to help them out. The secretary was doing the IT and she only did the back ups, the basics when she got around to it.

By the time they called me in, the network was a complete mess.

The big reason why I left my job (which I liked) that dealt with Macs was simple, I was getting experience that couldn’t translate. The more experience I got, the more skills I got were all with Macs. Should that job have fired me, or if I wanted more money or responsibility I would have to get another job.

But all the jobs were for Windows. I came to the conclusion spending another year at a job getting skills that were not going to do me any good in the real world was a waste. I got a job that dealt with systems for Windows Computers for a hotel. I learend and my skills translate all over. Had I stayed in the job networking and working with Macs, I would have no opportunites, because the market is so small.

I’ve got no dog in this, as I prefer and use Linux. (And I’ll point out that it’s my job to maintain a heterogenous mix of Windows, OS X, and Linux machines at work). But I feel the need to pipe up and say that your comment just shows your ignorance of Macs. You might want to refrain from doing so in the future (or at least come up with better, objective reasons that aren’t mostly contingent on your subjective abilities).

And note that I mean the above in as neutral a way as possible; there are a lot of Mac users who might make comments of a similar tenor about Windows. They’d be just as ignorant. As I said, I’ve got no vested interest in this and have little desire to argue about it.

If her comments are ignorant, then why don’t you enlighten us?

For just one example - do Mac OS’s have built-in remote access ability? (No really, That’s not a rhetorical question)

Yes. You can connect to other computers using both a Remote Desktop client from Microsoft as well as OS X’s built-in “screen sharing”. You can also use third-party VNC tools.

Here are some possible reasons based on my perceptions of challenges Mac-centrism would create in my place of work…

Cost. Macs are more expensive per seat than PCs. Sure, it can be argued the cost is justifiable in terms of the experience, etc, but who cares? Certainly not the guy paying the bills.

Imposition of an externally-specified hardware platform. I know Mac hardware is quite similar to PC hardware now, but you still can’t just build a bunch of computers to your own desired custom spec, then install Mac OS on them.

Central administration of policies, permissions, software installation, etc. I don’t know if/how Macs do this, but our collection of ~5000 PCs is quite heavily dependent on AD for all of these things and more. Can the same be done in the Mac universe?

This is far from my area of expertise, but it looks like it’s doable, but not easy.

For the record, I use RealVNC on my PC to connect to my Mac, which has a built-in VNC server on it. I became much less anti-Mac the day I brought it home and set up the VNC connection and “it just worked.” For real.

Of course they do. As well as remote installs and upgrades. All the major functionalities needed to maintain networks exist for Windows, Macs, and Linux. The major difference is that the quality tends to be and selection of tools certainly is better on Windows. Windows sysadmins know the tools for their platform and have no reason to investigate other platforms. But the tools certainly exist.

I’m responsible for the selection of hardware, software and infrastructure at my company at the strategic level, and I’ve been doing it for more than ten years now.

The primary reason for not using Macs is simply market share. There are more applications for Windows machines, and the hardware is a commodity item. My $1000 i7 Dell machine would cost twice as much if it were a Mac, and would only run a few of the applications that we require. We have a few Macs in the test lab for browser compatibility, but they’re not very useful for what we do. One of my programmers has only a Mac at home, and he has no end of trouble. He can’t even connect to our VPN (which I inherited; there’s no way I would have gone with that proprietary appliance box if it had been my call).

I’ve owned Macs, I like using Macs, but they just don’t make sense from a strategic perspective for us. Or for many businesses, for that matter.

Throwing them into AD is easy. Controlling them through AD requires expensive third party software. When you start with that 30% hardware premium, add the need to VM Windows for another $200 for some of your users (either on their desktops or a hosted VM solution - which adds more cost), then add the cost of specialty management software, its hard to make a ROI case. Also, much of the software that is free for personal use isn’t free for corporations. And when it is free for corporations, some corporations are hesitant to use it - what you get for free has no recourse for use on it - if it contains viruses or is ill behaved on your hosts or your network, you are screwed for pursuing liability.

I spend a great deal of time managing an A/D infrastructure, Linux Servers, and use a Mac almost exclusively to do so.

The reality is this:

The effort to maintain a system is X. All systems can be managed similarly. It may be a GPO in Active Directory, a bash script on Ubuntu, or Apple’s tools for management, but It’s possible to do EVERYTHING with ANY of the big three platforms. I’ll even say it’s possible for a similar TCO

More people don’t pick Apple because they typically already HAVE that infrastructure built under windows and are unwilling/unable to migrate to a different platform.

We have a small number of renegade Macs in our State Government Department. They exist with the express understanding that they’re self-supporting. The security group uses them because they’re nominally immune to a widespread windows outbreak, and can also run Windows and Opensource code as necessary. The other Macs are hand-me-downs from that security group.

The benefit I see in immunity and minimal one-off support does NOT outweigh our previous expenditure in Microsoft Products.

ETA: While you can do any management of any platform, I know of few companies that would expend the effort and cost to implement more than one platform. It’d have to have a VERY compelling need to do so.