Enticing, but Practical?
Let me preface this by saying that using Macs for business isn’t a completely terrible idea. Like anything else, you should always do what fits you best. That being said, just because it isn’t terrible, doesn’t mean it isn’t an inadvisable idea. I’ve been in IT for close to a decade, and while this by no means makes me a sage on the matter, it does give me some perspective.
In that amount of time, I can honestly say that the number of Mac implementations I’ve seen that are done correctly, I can count on one hand, using 0 fingers. Yes, Macs are sexy and people associate them with all sorts of appealing thoughts. Sleek and silky notions of efficiency and performance, and who doesn’t want to associate those things with their business? The gloss of it all, the shiny clear coat finish on all of their products, the ‘simplicity’ you always hear about. The sheer status is alluring, right? Plus, you always hear people say that Macs ‘just work’ as if to imply that there is never any messing or fuddling with configurations, or troubleshooting to do. As if Mac products somehow exist in this magical ether (likely next-door neighbors to other mystical IT entities such as ‘The Cloud’) that exists purely to make our lives easier and require zero effort.
In fact, they do require effort, often lots more than you would spend on a Windows PC, especially if it’s going to exist within a Windows network. The truth of the matter is, unless you’re selling Apple products, fixing apple products, writing or supporting Apple software, or something that somehow ties directly into that marketplace – you probably shouldn’t be using Macs in your business. Allow me to clarify that “using Macs in/for business” refers to using them for your core business practices, your day to day bread and butter. If you have a few around the office for whatever reason, there’s no harm done. If you rely on them for interoperability within moderate to complex Windows networks and domains, and security structures this is where the trouble starts. Here’s why:
They’re Not All That Simple
Simple issues like say…installing and configuring a printer install can sometimes become an hour long service call when it comes to Macs, instead of one that takes 10 minutes on a Windows PC. The nature of even simple protocols such as printing, especially when shared from (or to) a Windows network can make for quite a few more hoops to jump through. IT professionals are typically versed in and formally trained for supporting Windows functionality. This doesn’t mean they can’t get the job done on a Mac, but it usually means they’re going to have to spend a little time doing research before being able to get your issue resolved.
Domains and other business networks are not really built to cater to Macs either, while they are certainly capable and there are elements built right in to accommodate them, you won’t find many vendors, or their service people, willing to do anything but point a finger in the other one’s direction when complex problems arise. Not only networks, but many software applications businesses require simply do not have Mac versions. If they do, they are often lacking in features, compatibility with other software of their Windows counterparts, or must be run within a virtual machine. Having to run a computer, inside of your computer (virtual machine), just to use some applications adds a whole new layer of complexity, and a time bomb of potential issues just waiting to blow up in your face.
Lastly, Macs are often touted for being so simple and easy, but I find that his often translates into “lack of customization”. You get one thing, in one very certain way, and while it is very pretty, there’s usually not a lot of elbow room to do things other ways. I wouldn’t call that simplicity; I’d call that restrictive.
They’re Not All That Special
We often hear that for creatives, having a Mac is an absolute must have. Why? Photoshop, and other core creative applications work exactly the same as they do in Windows. OSX may come bundled with a few apps like Garage Band for audio production, but there are dozens of Windows equivalent applications, and some of the best ones are free! Some might argue that certain peripherals are what makes the difference, such as a digital pen or the displays. The truth is digital pens are mostly operating system agnostic. If creatives demand a superior monitor, I’d argue to take all the money one would save from not buying a Mac, and use it on a top of the line monitor. Even after the monitor purchase, they’d probably have a little left over for a cup of coffee or lunch, or both!
Let’s ignore the creative aspects for a minute and double back to the bread and butter of many businesses, Microsoft Office. Yes, there is a native Mac version and it’s no different than the Windows version. Right? Well, yeah, other than all those missing features and applications.
What I’m ultimately getting at here is being that it’s 2016 and the increase in web-based apps, remote applications, and other generally system agnostic methods of getting work done are so prevalent, if you’re buying a computer to do 50% or more of its work within a web browser you simply aren’t getting your money’s worth.
They’re Definitely That Expensive
Speaking of money, we all know Macs are expensive. To purchase, to maintain, and to service. The initial cost of purchasing a Mac could at times warrant 2 separate Windows PCs of comparable power. Even so, even if the Windows PCs slightly underperform, for most people they don’t need performance PCs, they need workstations to get their jobs done on. Simple upgrades and maintenance acts on a Mac can be much more costly than a Windows PC, and often involve shipping the device off and waiting for it to return. That’s downtime, and time is money, right?
You Deserve Better
I know this whole piece may come off as being completely anti-Apple, but don’t take it that way. Macs are great machines and in the right environment I believe they really shine and have great applications. Strictly speaking from a business stance though, those of us that slog through Quickbooks, Office, and other bits of proprietary profession-specific software for hours and hours each day, doing it all on a Mac would add just another layer of potential headaches. I’m not sure about you, but at the end of the day I like a cold beer, or maybe a movie on the couch with my family, not a couple of aspirin and a nap.