Bring it on (a Mac that is)

"What are they up to now? Cheetah? Leopard? I don't care, just bring it on.
Written by Christopher Dawson, Contributor

"What are they up to now? Cheetah? Leopard? I don't care, just bring it on."

This is roughly how a conversation with one of my users went today. Obviously, there was quite a bit more too it, but we got to talking about the new laptops we'll be leasing for teachers this summer. As I've noted in previous blogs, we're getting an infusion of cash from our town's capital planning committee to begin lifecycle-funding teacher computing facilities (among other things) to match the upgrades made to student computing at the high school.

We have a bit of time to plan, experiment, test, and, most importantly, discuss the upgrades for our teachers, so I'm talking to anyone who will listen about their options. Some just assumed we'd be buying more Dells, since our last round of computers (Dell Latitudes and Optiplexs) have served us fairly well. Others have said something along the lines of "Does that mean we have to get Vista?"

This was the first user, however, who immediately came out and asked for a Mac. He noted that his wife had 2 Macs and her ability to rapidly create content out of the box was unparalleled in Windows. The head of his department also runs a small Mac lab in the school for our journalism class and replaced his school-issued computer with a Macbook Pro. Their experiences have been universally positive, not necessarily because Macs are better (I won't even go there), but because as our PCs have slowed down, been patched and upgraded with anti-malware software, and otherwise aged gracelessly, his wife and department head continue to crank out content for students quickly and easily.

For him, it comes down to getting his job done faster and easier. Where his wife is regularly including video in her teaching materials because simple video production is so easy in iMovie, he's happy to just navigate in PowerPoint. This isn't to say that one can't do everything on a PC that they can on a Mac; as a teacher, he's simply looking for it to be effortless, so that he can focus on teaching.

Teachers outside of his department (you know how those crazy English teachers are) haven't given much thought over the last three years to anything other than Windows XP Pro running on a Dell. Now that many of them have had some experiences with Vista on new computers they have purchased, though, the idea that there is something other than Windows XP out there is starting to percolate through their heads. I'm ordering my own Macbook this weekend. It looks like we'll need to have some demos of Vista and OS X, so that our dialog on their new computers can extend beyond, "Do you want a laptop or desktop?"

At the same time, some Ubuntu and OpenSUSE demos are also in order; I just refuse to downgrade computers I'm purchasing in the next 6 months (and need to live with for the next 3 years) to Windows XP (I'll virtualize it for them using our volume licenses, but I'd rather that their primary environment not be a 10 year old OS, which XP will be at the end of the leases on these new computers). If the teachers agree on Vista, so be it, but they can't make a decision without information.

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