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BLOG: North Korea switched from Windows to OS X -- should you?

Galen Gruman | Feb. 13, 2014
As the PC market wavers, the Mac may dominate it despite poor Microsoft apps

In the conversation that ensued, the question came up as to what would cause a person to make the switch. I suggested it required either a leap of faith or a big push, such as the reaction against Windows 8 or the desire to join a cohesive, multidevice ecosystem such as Apple's. Redman noted that the leap-of-faith argument is a hard one because "I don't think a person really gets it, until they use it regularly." That's the "no regrets" reaction I typically see in those who make the switch, for whatever reason.

To be clear, Redman also noted the big negative of switching to the Mac: "[Microsoft] apps on it don't work well at all." I can vouch for that. Fortunately, you can skip using the clunky, slow Outlook in favor of Apple's own Mail, Calendar, and Contacts apps, which work well with Exchange. (You lose some capabilities, such as mail account delegation, and odd bugs pop up from time to time in enterprise deployments. No one's quite sure what caused them or how to fix them, and Microsoft and Apple point fingers at each other.)

Internet Explorer has no Mac version, but given IE's idiosyncracies and HTML5 ignorance, that's no loss. The newest version of Safari finally comes up to IE and Firefox levels in terms of bookmark management, and of course Chrome and Firefox are available on the Mac in versions equal to their Windows ones.

But the big kahuna is not as easy to bypass. By that, I mean Office. The Windows version of Office is much faster and has a cleaner user interface -- many people I know run a desktop virtualzation program such as Parallels Desktop or VMware Fusion simply to keep using the Windows version of Office. That's a sad indictment of Mac Office. I've kept Office 2008 as my go-to productivity suite, because its UI is more straightforward than Office 2011's, but as a result, I deal with Word's compatibility-based crashes too often when I get DOCX files, and both DOC and DOCX files with many rounds of tracked changes can crash Word. Excel doesn't suffer from these file issues, and I don't use PowerPoint enough to know it does.

Apple's iWork suite -- Pages, Numbers, and Keynote -- are pretty good, but the iWork UI (also used in iBooks Author, for example) tends to make common actions such as style creation and management more work than they should be. I sometimes use Pages instead of Word when Word starts crashing; I always use Keynote instead of PowerPoint because Keynote produced much cooler slideshows; and I almost never use Numbers because it's not up to Excel's capabilities in key features like linked workbooks. In addition, iWork has the huge advantage of working on the iPad and iPhone, as well as the advantage of instant syncing via iCloud. But it still can't fully replace Office.


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