Mac Scope

Myth Mongering Still a Popular Pastime

Stephen Van Esch - 2002.01.23

Why is it that the tired old argument that Macs need more market share rears its ugly head every time Apple releases something great?

For the last three years, Apple's products have consistently drawn good reviews and admiring glances. On the software side, Macs (thanks to FreeBSD) are once again becoming respected in IT circles.

So what's the bloody problem?

Well, according to Eric Hellweg over at Business 2.0, the death knell for Apple is now its network problems. The argument runs like this: "Macs can't connect very well to Windows networks. Businesses and schools run on Windows networks, so Apple will be dead."

To add insult to injury, it appears that Mr. Hellweg also seems to be confusing hardware with the protocols required to exchange data over a network. The network doesn't give a hoot what type of processor you're using. As long it understands the language your machine is speaking on the network, everything is a go. Claiming that a processor is a limiting factor in network communication is akin to saying that someone's skin color defines how they can use a phone.

Hegwell states that Mac network problems will be its downfall. If you believe or are so shortsighted that you think that Microsoft is writing all the rules regarding network connectivity, it's clear you need a lesson or two on how networks work.

Currently, the push is on for reasonably open standards regarding network connectivity. Open standards mean that no one company controls the agenda and that machines of different types and stripes can communicate effortlessly. As long as companies adopt open standards, no one will have a problem. Of course, Microsoft is not a really willing participant in the open standards deal. It would rather keep things closed off and proprietary. I'm sure that Apple would do the same if given half a chance. Unfortunately, they can't call the shots, so it's easier to join 'em.

But that's Internet connectivity, and Hellweg's article specifically addresses LANs. Couldn't an open standard help matters along here? Why is the onus on Apple to do all the work? There's no mention that Microsoft needs to make an effort to open up their network protocols so that they're accessible to all types of computers.

In any event, software like DAVE provides the functionality Hellweg is complaining about.

Of course, the argument that Apple hasn't ported to Intel because they make money in hardware still sparks heated debate. However, if Apple can sell an extra machine that acts a server in a school, give schools the stability of Unix with the ease of Mac OS, and full network connectivity, more power to them.

I highly recommend that Apple start pushing its ability to work with other computers. If the kind of misinformed arguments presented by Hellweg starts taking hold, it really will be over for Apple. LEM

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Stephen Van Esch is the founder and president of the E-learning Foundry, an online training resource for Mac users. Steve loves the Mac and is doubly bilingual, since he's also fluent in Windows and French.

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