Jan 3

Tim O'Reilly

Tim O'Reilly

Celebrity CIO evaluates alternatives to Windows

Our CIO, CJ Rayhill, sent a pointer to an interesting article in CIO magazine, which describes how John Halamka, CIO of the Harvard Medical School and CareGroup, which runs the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, evaluated Mac OS X and Linux as alternatives to Windows:

After three months of experimentation and comparison, Halamka concluded that his dream machine is a Dell D420 notebook that runs OS X. Unfortunately, such a machine doesn't currently exist out of the box.

He prefers Dell's hardware over Apple's because it weighs 3 pounds less than the 5-pound MacBook he toted around for a month, and it emits far less heat. "[That's] the only thing preventing me from using the Mac," he says.

He prefers OS X's security, reliability and simple user interface over that of XP. And though he still has high hopes for running a version of Linux that is reliable and full-featured, he hasn't found an OS that's up to the task. (He says that SUSE on the Lenovo T60 may be the answer, since it will be the first commercial laptop with Linux configured and supported by the manufacturer.) But until Apple develops a lighter-weight laptop or decides to license its software for installation on other machines, Halamka is sticking with XP on his D420 for professional use. For personal use, he's keeping the MacBook. Having two computers—one for work and one for play—is a change for Halamka, who used one computer for both prior to this experiment....

Although he has no immediate plans to replace any Windows desktops with Macs, Halamka says he's going to watch the price and performance of Apple's newest OS, Leopard, which Apple is scheduled to release in spring 2007. If Leopard offers better administration tools than OS X and is more tightly integrated both with Outlook and with Microsoft's Exchange server, Halamka would be more inclined to initiate the broader use of Macs. He would want such improvements to ensure that Leopard users won't encounter as many of the problems he ran into accessing his Outlook calendar and delegation functions.

CJ added: "This is also what I'm hearing from my other CIO friends as well..."

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Comments: 8

  Mark Haliday [01.03.07 06:24 AM]

"ensure that Leopard users won't encounter as many of the problems he ran into accessing his Outlook calendar and delegation functions."

How is this an Apple issue? Isn't this a Microsoft issue? Don't they make Office for the Mac? I don't see what Apple needs to do here.

  Tom 2D Forever [01.03.07 08:53 AM]

As stated above, Mr Rayhill's only problem with the Mac is the fact that Microsoft's programs constrict you to only using Microsoft products (ie: Windows XP).

Find an alternative to Outlook!

Nice to see people are reaching out though

  Zach [01.03.07 10:36 AM]

It isn't so much that he needs to find an alternative to Outlook the Exchange client -- certainly not tha the needs an alternative to Office as Mark mentions above (the CIO doesn't even mention Office). He needs to find an alternative to Exchange Server. Exchange is a de facto standard not for it's email capability, but for it's tight integration of calendars/scheduling and address books. Outlook just happens to be the best client for accessing the Exchange Server. Evolution and a couple others are trying, but in a large enterprise environment where the scheduling and delegation features are most useful and most widely used, they are pretty hard features to give up. I'm no fan of Microsoft, but I have to give them credit for this particular feature set.

  Tim O'Reilly [01.03.07 11:20 AM]

Mark -- Problems with Outlook are Apple's problem from an adoption perspective. While an OS vendor doesn't control the application vendors, to the extent that applications don't work properly on a platform, and those applications are important to users, the platform won't be adopted.

I'm sure Microsoft knows this, which is why their Mac BU goes so far, and no farther, in their support for the Mac.

  Tim O'Reilly [01.03.07 11:29 AM]

Zach -- At O'Reilly, we're about to roll out Zimbra, which addresses this hole. We'll let you know how it goes.

  MonkeyT [01.03.07 02:19 PM]

Leopard Server is also expected to include a new Calendar Server with workgroup features that implements the new CalDAV standard. Should be interesting.

  Scott A [01.04.07 12:28 PM]

I don't have any experience with the D240, but in my experience over the last few years, Dell's laptops (and desktops & servers) have had significant quality issues. Mac has had some battery issues (who hasn't), but they tend to hold up much better.

Weight is another issue, and Apple has had to bring out relatively middle-of-the-road models when it comes to size and function because they didn't have the volumes to bring out niche products like ultra-lightweight machines. That should be changing now, and I'd love to see a wider range of Macbooks.

  Grant Aldrich [01.04.07 05:04 PM]

I know its tough to swallow, but I would have to agree with Tom2D Forever.

Neither linux or apple can offer the application integration that the windows platform has for business.

For example, Microsoft Enterprise Project Management (EPM)- A great project management software for the price. It integrates with Outlook (Exchange), and the other applications in the suite like Sharepoint. There is no getting around the fact that they have made the integration for these programs incredibly efficient.

I think for business, the open source community cant fill the niche demand yet.

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