Brad Feld

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Is Switching To Macs?

Apr 26, 2008
Category Random

There’s a rumor going around that is switching all of its 4000 employees over to Macs.  If so, this will be the first high profile complete Windows to Mac enterprise defection that I’ve heard of recently (I’m sure there are others, but they haven’t been high profile or big enough to catch my attention.)

For several months, I’ve been suggesting that when larger (great than 2,500 employee) companies start defecting en masse (e.g. the entire company) to Macs, it will signal another potential tectonic shift (and opportunity) in the software business.

Unless you are a browser centric company, it’s still really challenging to fully integrate Windows and Macs in one environment.  It can be done (we do it – even at a 12 person company) but it’s grody and the Mac users are always on the short end of things.  This isn’t new – it’s been going on since the last real attempted foray into the Mac into enterprise in the late 1980’s.

But the pressure on Microsoft and the market dynamics, especially among younger users, seems different to me this time.  I’ve tried to switch to a Mac several times and given up each time because of application integration – in my case Exchange (mail, shared calendar, and tasks), SharePoint, and my cell phone integration with Exchange.  I’ve tried a bunch of different approaches – none of them really worked short of dumping the Microsoft apps and switching to something different which I’m not willing to do – yet.

Some of my daily world is comfortably cross-platform (Firefox, Skype, Trillian, and all the NewsGator stuff I use) and does the "right thing" synchronizing data in the cloud.  But enough isn’t that I just can’t seem to make the switch.

Apple’s finally licensing Microsoft’s ActiveSync and incorporating it into the iPhone will probably get me to switch to an iPhone (from my Tmobile Dash) – assuming the Exchange integration is complete (mail + calendar + address book + tasks).  If Entourage 2008 had an equivalent level of integration with Exchange (or the Apple mail / calendar / contact apps incorporated ActiveSync) I’d try again on the Mac.

Yes – I know I can use Fusion or Parallels – I’ve tried – they just aren’t satisfying enough.  I also know we can throw out all of our Microsoft stuff and switch over to Google Apps or something else – we’ve got to much of an infrastructure investment – even at 12 people – to bother with that at this point (imagine if we were 4,000 people!)

But – it feels like another wave is about to break on us and the chance of a broad change will once again be in our (and Microsoft’s) face.  Microsoft can play offense or defense here – all of the Live Mesh stuff from last week is offense and I’m glad to see it from my friends in Redmond.

I think all of this tension, pressure, and change is good because I want to see (and participate) in more innovation.  More, more, more.  Of course, this won’t really matter much next week since it’s likely going to be all about Microsoft and Yahoo.