Parallels helps ease the switch between a PC and a Mac

Parallels, makers of virtualization software for the Mac, unveiled a new bundle to help PC Windows users make the transition over to Mac OS X and retain their existing data and programs.

It doesn't matter what Apple and the "I'm a Mac guy" say, some Windows users who decide to jump ship from the PC world over to a Mac could use a little help during the transition period - it doesn't matter how easy or intuitive the company thinks their interface is on Mac OS X.  Hey, when you've been clicking on a "start button" since '95, you might have a little bit of difficulty locating the finder button.  There's nothing wrong with that.

As Microsoft continues to guide PC consumers along the migration path of Windows XP to Windows Vista and now to Windows 7, it sounds like there are some folks out there who are ready to get off that train and go a different migration route altogether.

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Aside from television commercials, are people really making the switch?  You betcha!  At least, that's what the reports and numbers coming out of Apple and the analyst firms and researchers are showing.  IDC reported that Mac OS X market growth had come at the expense of Windows' market share.  And while the overall PC market saw declines of 3% for the quarter ending June 2009, Apple sales were up 4% year over year.  Apple stated in its Q3 2009 report that half of the Macs sold were to customers who had never owned a Mac before.

I have friends and associates who fit that exact description.  They were lifelong PC and Windows users who for some reason decided to take the plunge and make the switch over to the Mac.  Me?  I'm still a holdout, and we constantly go back and forth poking fun at one another over it.  The good news?  I don't get asked support questions anymore.  I have no clue how to use that thing!

But if you're an old dog like me, Parallels is extending a helping hand in this transition period to help teach you new tricks.  The company that became well known in the Mac community for its Parallels Desktop for Mac virtualization product is back, and this time they are offering what they call a "complete solution" designed to ease and simplify the process of switching over from a PC to a Mac.

The new product is appropriately called Parallels Desktop Switch to Mac Edition.

Mary Starman, director of consumer marketing at Parallels, is well aware of the rise in Mac adoption coming over from the PC world.  She told me that the "trend towards 'switching' is likely fuelled in part by the ease-of-use Mac is famous for, which we build on with Parallels Desktop Switch to Mac Edition."

Starman added, "The product aims to give switchers everything they need to make moving to the Mac as simple as possible: interactive training designed with a Windows user in mind, software and a high-speed USB cable for 'plug and click' transfer of data and applications from PC to Mac, and Parallels Desktop for Mac so that users don't lose their existing software investment."

She said that she wished that a product like this had existed when she made the switch from Windows to Mac.  But people making the switch right now don't have to wish any longer.  They just need $99.99 and access to the Apple store or Apple.com.

At that price, the bundle not only comes with a full version of Parallels Desktop for Mac, it also includes a way for PC users to migrate their data over to their new Mac machine.  Let's face it, if you aren't familiar with this process, you'll need a simple "plug and click" method to help you out.  The bundle includes a high-speed USB transfer cable and a simple-to-use wizard-based software called the Enhanced Parallels Transporter.  Again, it is all about making things seamless and easy to switch over.

Once you've migrated over and have the Mac up and running with your old data at hand and your Windows applications ready to launch, the real education begins.

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Saied Ghaffari, a Switch to Mac advocate, showed me an impressive demo of the new Switch to Mac learning tools.  The tools use a series of interactive video tutorials that make up a "Click to Learn" style system.  Rather than simply watching a video from beginning to end, you can click an item on the screen to find out more about it, what it does, and how to use it.  It even offers you step-by-step help by showing you the Mac equivalent to many common Windows tasks or commands.  Doing so gives the user something to relate the new task back to in their old Windows world.  I found this particular feature extremely interesting and easy to follow along.  Heck, maybe I can learn new tricks?

According to Ghaffari, the training materials included in the bundle are intended to shorten the time switchers need to become comfortable with their Mac and can reduce the learning curve from two weeks down to about two hours.  He said having this training is like having a friend teach you the Mac at your own pace.

What's your office environment like?  Are employees asking for Macs?  Are they bringing in their own equipment?  Is your organization planning on rolling out an upgrade from either Microsoft Windows XP or Vista to Windows 7 anytime soon?

If so, would something like Parallels Desktop Switch to Mac Edition help make the Apple Mac a viable alternative in your organization?

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