If I learned anything from the feedback for my last column, it's that Mac loyalists remain a passionate bunch. The e-mails I received had my head spinning faster than Fast User Switching in OS X. Clearly, the response would have been kinder if I had just been unmasked as a serial killer. I received generous helpings of "idiot" and "dolt" sprinkled with a "callous ineptitude" here and there -- all because I wrote about my warning to a new salesperson that he wasn't going to get support for being the Lone Ranger of Macs in his PC-only department.
Despite the overzealous headline my editor placed above my column, which suggested that Macs were not supported at all at InfoWorld, I want to assure you that Macs are embraced and supported at InfoWorld in key areas. I suspect that InfoWorld is reasonably typical in that approximately 20 percent of our environment consists of Macs. In the past year, we have upgraded our entire Mac environment to dual-processor G5s running Panther -- with Remote Desktop, Retrospect, and so on -- and everyone in our IT department is a Mac user and fan. That said, I think it's generally a waste of time to try to evangelize Macs to departments like sales where everyone prefers PCs or (gasp!) doesn't care. When IT pros with the crazed eyes of street preachers accost passersby in the hallways to push a new platform, people generally wish they would just shut up and stop blocking the route to the coffee machine.
As I've noted before, I love Macs, but I think Mac proponents need to rein in the blind passion to avoid offering problematic solutions in the name of Mac purity. When I got several e-mails telling me that the obvious way (you dolt!) to support Mac-toting InfoWorld salespeople is to use the OS X RDC (Remote Desktop Client) to access key Windows apps via Terminal or Remote Desktop Services, I knew we were really getting into Mac-wagging-the-dog territory. To be fair, I know that the RDC approach can work because we've done it at InfoWorld -- on our local LAN. Still, I can only imagine the frantic support calls from a stranded salesperson in an airport with no way to connect back to that critical Windows app via RDC. Network connectivity is not yet ubiquitous, and, until it is, a solution that depends on a high-speed network is going to be unpredictable at best. When a PC-only app is absolutely critical, give that person a PC.
Others said that if I more fully embraced open standards -- the IT version of world peace, and who doesn't want that? -- I wouldn't have to deal with the platform problem at all. Unfortunately, the reality of corporate IT intrudes. InfoWorld is more than 25 years old, and we are part of a larger global company that is nearly 40 years old. I am constantly pushing toward open standards with all our key systems; but we are still working with a few aggravating proprietary systems, and there is no magic wand to wipe them away immediately. Such is life in a company that has been around for a while. While admonishing me for not having a fully open standards-based environment that could support Macs in all functions, one developer noted that he used Virtual PC at his company for a few "horrible applications that only work with IE." It sounds like I'm not the only one with some work to do.