My January, 2010 Montana InBusiness Monthly column
Thinking of moving from Windows to a Mac?
But Apple Computer is getting more popular, and one reason might be all the Apple non-computer products that have been selling well. There are millions of iPods and iPhones out there, and their popularity has probably brought users to Apple’s computers and operating system, called OS X.
Apple makes both hardware and software (Microsoft produces only software), which means that Apple’s products are more integrated with each other and with OS X, and many people believe this also accounts for some of Apple’s growth.
Another reason people may be moving away from Windows is the near total lack of malware for OS X, whereas Windows requires the constant use of antivirus and antispyware software.
How difficult is it to move from Windows to a Mac? The icons and folders and other “Desktop” aspects of a Mac and OS X will be familiar to Windows users. Clicking around OS X’s dock and folders won’t be a huge difference from the Windows start menu and “My Computer” folders.
What about moving files? Photos and images – such as jpg and gif images – are a universal format and will transfer perfectly. Music and movies are easy, too: mp3 and aif files will move right into iTunes, and Apple’s Quicktime movie player can play many formats of movie files, including wmv (Windows Media Player) files with a free component called Flip4Mac.
Photoshop files from Windows will easily move to Mac Photoshop, as will Word documents and Excel spreadsheets to Office for the Mac. Quicken, Quickbooks, Filemaker, too, all will move, because thousands of Windows programs and the major suites – like Microsoft Office and Adobe products – have Mac equivalents.
But that means you will need to buy those programs, as a Windows version of Office isn’t going to work on a Mac.
E-mail is slightly more complicated. If you use Web-based e-mail, there’s no problem, as your e-mail isn’t stored on your PC or Mac. If you use Outlook on Windows, there are different ways of bringing your e-mail over to a Mac.
You can move your files from your account on your Windows PC with a USB drive, a CD or a direct network connection. Belkin makes a special Move to a Mac cable, but it’s not absolutely necessary.
What about your hardware, like printers and scanners and cameras? OS X supports thousands of devices, and while you can check the manufacturer’s Web site for OS X drivers, many printers and cameras work by just plugging them in.
If you have a Windows program that has no Mac equivalent and you need to continue to use it, you can still consider moving to a Mac, because it’s possible to run Windows on your Mac by using virtualization software. I run Windows and Windows programs on my MacBook every day for certain things.
To run Windows on a Mac, you’ll need the software – called VMWare, Parallels, Crossover or VirtualBox – and a licensed copy of Windows. Read more at an older article of mine: With OS X it’s possible to run Windows on a Mac.
If you’re thinking of switching, check Apple’s support Web site for everything you need to know to move from WIndows to a Mac. And try out a Mac at a friend’s home or at the local big box store and see what you think.
And there’s a video at AllThingsDigital showing the most immediate differences you’ll find when moving to a Mac: Opening a Window on the Mac – The Mossberg Solution at AllThingsD.
And David Pogue of The New York Times has a book out in The Missing Manual Series called: Amazon.com: Switching to the Mac: The Missing Manual, Leopard Edition.