We enjoy the banter of
the Mac vs. PC commercials, but what are the real underlying issues
in deciding what the right computer choice is for you as a meeting
planner? One of the overriding criteria in years past -- software
availability -- isn’t as significant as it used to be.
Apple began selling Macintosh computers
with Intel chips in 2006, which means any new Mac purchased since
then offers the option of running both Mac OS X and Windows XP or
Vista. In other words, you can boot your Mac under the Windows
operating system and run your Windows-based programs, yet still
have the full features and functionality of the Mac OS when you
want it. Many users think it’s the best of both worlds and a
solution to the age-old problem of having to use Macs for graphics
and creative programs and PCs for business applications.
Last fall, Apple released its latest
operating system, Mac OS X Leopard (10.5). Built in is an
application called Boot Camp, which walks users through the process
of installing and using Windows. Leopard also has some features
that are similar to those in Windows Vista, in terms of file
management, backup and the ability to arrange and view files in
Boot Camp allows you to run a Mac in
either Windows or Leopard, but not simultaneously; you’ll need to
reboot to switch operating systems. If you want to run both
operating systems side-by-side, you’ll have to purchase additional
software such as VMware Fusion ($79.99; www.vmware.com) or
Parallels Desktop ($79.99; www.parallels.com). Of course, you’ll also have
to buy Windows if you want to run it (Vista, $99.95 to $259.95; www.microsoft.com).
I asked a number of Mac users the key
reason they prefer a Mac, and their answers were strikingly
similar. “It just works!” was number one, and “I don’t have to
worry about viruses” was a close second.
Anyone who has installed a new piece of
hardware in the PC world can appreciate the fact that there are two
distinct definitions of “plug-n-play.” In the Mac world, it means
what it says: You plug it in and it works. The process has improved
for PCs, but there still are numerous situations for which you have
to install new drivers or test different devices to get something
Browsing the Web
Using Mac-based browsers with some
websites and content management systems designed for Microsoft
Internet Explorer presents occasional difficulties, but newer
releases of Firefox and Safari appear to work better -- and with
dual operating systems, you can always switch to Windows and run
When purchasing a Mac, you have some
basic options with each model, primarily with respect to memory and
disk size. If you are buying a notebook, like the MacBook Pro, you
can expect to pay between $2,000 and $3,000. A MacPro desktop
starts at around $2,500, and the all-in-one iMac (the envy of all
PC owners) starts at $1,200.
You might find that a Mac will meet all
of your needs, both from the creative and number-crunching
perspectives. One aspect to keep in mind: Cracks are beginning to
show in Apple’s reputation for customer support and
In fact, Apple’s customer satisfaction
level has dropped from 83 percent in 2006 to 79 percent in 2007,
according to a survey of 1,500 customers by TechnoMetrica
Intelligence (www.technometrica.com). But that’s still pretty good.
By comparison, HP’s satisfaction level is at 76 percent; Dell’s is
at 75 percent.
Bob Walters,based in Battle Creek, Mich., is founder of Phoenix
Solutions and developer of MeetingTrak Software.