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6 Things You Need to Know to Switch Your Business From PC to Mac

By Paul Mah, CIO
November 05, 2013 09:06 AM ET

CIO - Are you always doing a double take when you see all the Mac laptops at the cafA(c)? Perhaps you're shopping for a new work machine and you don't want one that runs Windows 8.

Whatever the case, the good news is that switching from Windows to a Mac laptop isn't as difficult as you may think. This is especially true for smaller businesses that don't rely on enterprise-centric management tools and don't require access to legacy Windows-only apps.

With some preparation, the transition to a new platform can be a relatively painless one, even for lifelong Windows users. Here are six pointers to help you along.

1. Make Sure Mac OS X Supports Apps You Need

The first step toward ensuring that your business can survive the switch from a PC to a Mac is to make sure the apps you need are available on the Mac. This methodical process involves listing all critical business software currently installed on your Windows machine. Don't forget productivity apps that you regularly use, too.

Once you're done, check for the availability of a native Mac OS X version for these important apps. With more than a decade since the initial release of OS X, the number of apps that are currently available may surprise you. For example, browsers such as Firefox and Chrome are available for the OS X, as are popular online services such as Dropbox, SugarSync, EverNote and Skype. In fact, even Microsoft offers Office 2011 for Mac; it includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook but is missing applications such as Access, OneNote and Publisher.

Feature: The 10 Best New Features in OS X MavericksMore: Apple's Mavericks Off to Strongest-Ever OS X Start

Be forewarned, though: The OS X version of a given app may not always offer the exact capabilities as the Windows version. In addition, things can get confusing when the product lineup for Windows is different than the one on the Mac. Nuance offers Dragon Home 12, Dragon Premium 12 and Dragon Professional 12 for the PC, for example, but Dragon Dictate 3 and MacSpeech Scribe for the Mac.

In the event that a software publisher doesn't have a native OS X app available, the next step is to check for applications that deliver equivalent functionality. In general, the maturity of OS X means you have a good chance of finding what you need. Expect to do some research, though, and don't rush the process. Read online reviews and search forums dedicated to Mac users to find what you need.

2. Consider Options for Putting Windows on the Mac

But what happens when an important business app is just not available on the OS X? Fortunately, you can load the Windows on your Mac computer in order to continue using it. There are two main ways to do that: From Boot Camp or using a virtual machine.

Boot Camp is an OS X system utility system designed to help carve out a separate partition for installing Microsoft Windows. Once set up, users have the choice between booting into Windows or OS X. Of course, while installing Windows on a MacBook guarantees the ability to continue using your Windows apps, booting into Windows on a regular basis does somewhat defeat the purpose of making a switch to the Mac in the first place.

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