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Opinion: A glance back at Apple in '06, a look ahead to '07

Want good risk management? Avoid Vista and get a Mac

By Yuval Kossovsky
December 20, 2006 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - Looking back, 2006 has been a great year for Apple. Wall Street continues to be enamored with all things Apple, the company's laptop market share is up to 10%, and the media distribution business has changed forever -- with iTV arriving after the first of the year. Will Apple also partner with a mobile virtual network operator, or buy a cell carrier outright for the final push in its effort to broaden its reach?

I could go on about touch-screen video iPods, market share, new models, the completion of the Intel transition, the rumored cell phones and more. The only prediction I will make is my annual prognostication, which is that iChatAV will break out to more mainstream use this coming year, and that Apple will embed it in a 3G cell phone. IChatAV (or, as I see it, iSpeakwalkandtalk) will be the killer app for mobile operators seeking to increase average revenues per user via data services.

Having gotten that bit of speculation out of the way, I want to focus on something concrete. I think the biggest news for Apple in 2007 will be Microsoft Vista. Really. More to the point, in managing the risk of migration to Vista, I think the argument can be made that migrating to Mac OS X as a primary operating system is a good risk management strategy. Here's why:

If you buy new PCs and install Windows XP now, your new hardware might not work as expected when you finally do move to Vista. (Vista, released last month to enterprise customers and due in consumers' hands on Jan. 30, is currently unproven and -- given Microsoft's history -- will need at least one service pack and a year or more to iron out any kinks. It also requires a higher level of hardware for all of its high-end features to work.) Having bought those theoretical PCs, at some point in the not-too-distant future you will have to choose between running Windows XP or Vista on the desktop. And let's not forget that when moving to Vista, there may be some serious user training issues and compatibility concerns to work out -- all of which will likely affect corporate productivity.

By contrast, if you buy Apple hardware, you're also getting an operating system that has proved itself stable and -- although the underpinnings change with each release, and Mac OS X 10.5, or Leopard, is due out by spring -- the user interface is essentially the same. Yes, you may need to do some user retraining upfront, but that should be a quick, one-time affair, since OS X is generally much simpler to use than Windows XP or Vista, in my opinion. A Mac can integrate fully in a Windows domain structure, communicating with the Windows servers over SMB, respecting ACLS and interacting with Exchange.

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