PSU Support for Macs

Q – I recall hearing that ITS is no longer supporting Macs on campus. Can you give us an update?

A - This year marks the last year of central support for Macintosh computers. We are a Windows-centric campus. So is the world, at least for now. It doesn’t mean Macs aren’t good computers or that we don’t like them. It simply means that we can’t be all things to all people.

Over the past two years, many former Mac users have made the transition to Windows. Some remaining Mac users may be holding out on principle and/or simple preference. I empathize. I, too, am a fan of Apple and what they bring to the industry. I learned computing on Apple computers and had several before transitioning to Windows nearly a decade ago. Yet putting that personal preference aside, we need to do the most good for as many people we can with finite resources. Long gone are the days of customized computers on a large organizational network.

Our priority now is to make sure you have a fully functional, PSU-ready, network-protected, wireless-enabled computer. We want you to access all the software and resources site-licensed by PSU, along with the ability to read and recognize documents distributed at PSU.

And the bottom line…economy of scale. It simply costs more per computer for non-Windows computers…the computer itself, the software and the support.

Much of the zealousness in the debate of Macs and Windows has died down. In fact, the web is changing all of this. In a web-centric environment, the computer type is less important a factor. Who knows, if things continue the way they seem, in a few more years it won’t matter what you use for a computer…everything will be on or accessible through the Web.

Some of the old Macs are being used in academic departments for stand-alone, off-network use. Good. However, others continue to be used as primary desktop computers. If your computer is more than 3-4 years old, it is likely to experience component breakdown sooner or later. You may or may not lose data. (When’s the last time you backed up?) If and when it does, you may be pressed to do an un-planned computer transition, never a pleasant experience in the middle of a semester. This is not in the best interests of your students, either.

There were some exceptions. If any department could demonstrate a requirement in their particular industry for a non-Windows computer, and they agreed to assume costs for support and maintenance, then they would be granted an exception. Exceptions are granted by the Associate VP for Undergraduate Studies and the Chief Information Officer (me). To date, three departments have submitted requests for a waiver: Graphic Design, Music Technology and Public Relations (their graphic designers).

For now, hanging on to an old Mac based on principle may be cutting off your nose to spite your face. Give us a call, we’ll help sort through the options.

2 thoughts on “PSU Support for Macs

  1. I don't have an official waiver, but my duties as web developer require me to test all our web applications on a mac. To accommodate that, I have a 6 year old G4 on my desk. Amazingly it performs as well if not better than my 3 year old surplus PC that also sits on my desk. I'm sure much of this is because there is no LAN desk or EPO on the mac gobbling up resources. Apple's hardware ages much better in our environment than PCs.

    Additionally, I could replace that simple G4 desktop for $1300 (monitor included) with another Apple. A similarly spec'd Dell would be $1100. As I look around ITS, there are others with at least 5 year old Macs on their desk. If we assume 5 years is the normal life for them, that destroys any cost savings from even a 4 year PC life cycle (ITS recommends 3 years).

    Another cost benefit is not needing LAN desk or EPO. These are things you cannot live without in Windows, but OSX handles its patch management properly to begin with. On this topic of managing the machines, OSX can easily join a Windows domain and authenticate against Active Directory.

    Finally, most software people use in Windows has a Mac version: MS Office, Firefox, iTunes, Google Earth, SQL Developer, Internet Native Banner, Discoverer Plus, etc.

    I feel as though we've moved away from Macs at a time when they have become inexpensive and similar to PCs to support, just with less headaches and longer lives.

  2. Good point. As developers, you need to write to a variety of computer configurations. You support your computer, so you're in the exception zone.

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