March 23, 2006



Posted: 09.19.04
From the Desk of Teresa von Fuchs: A Mac User Speaks
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I received my first reader letter in early April regarding an article I had written about the latest thin-and-light laptops. It was from a computer engineer who wanted to express his disappointment in my exclusion of the new Apple PowerBook. Though we had set specific criteria for the piece, which the PowerBook didn’t meet—under three pounds for starters—I felt a little guilty after the reproach.  

By Teresa von Fuchs

I am an newly converted Mac user, and though I know about its innovative history in terms of portability (remember they made the first handheld, called the Newton, in 1993), power and wireless capability (Mac came out with its first airport in 1999 and also standardized on embedded wireless in laptops that same year, PCs didn’t really start with wireless in anything but niche models until 2001), it’s just not a brand that the enterprise market seems to be interested in. No matter how much the industry loves to sneer at Redmond, it’s a Windows-dominated world.

But I love Macs and think enterprises users should speak up about how useful and secure these machines really are. I promise to not make this column a regular Apple lovefest, but I do want to comment on some industry-leading features Apple has going for it.

Data syncing and remote access products have been big news lately. Services like GoToMyPC offer remote access to data on your home PC from any browser in the world. Others, like BeInSync, offer remote access, as well as PC-to-PC file sharing, a secure, for-your-eyes-only network and peer-to-peer access. These sorts of services are really handy, as no external storage device can carry around files you forgot to put on it in the first place. And let’s not even mention what happens if your machine is lost or stolen.

Apple has had such a product, called iDisk, since 2000. First introduced as part of a service called iTools, iDisk entailed 20 MB of Internet storage, free for all OS9 users, advertised as “an entirely new way to store, transfer and share files over the Internet, and it’s as easy as using a folder on your desktop.” After two years Apple claimed 2.4 million iTools subscribers.

Two years later Apple launched .Mac, an upgraded Internet tools suite replacing iTools, with even more features like e-mail, a 100MB iDisk, HomePage a Web site creation tool, anti-virus software and Backup, a solution that allowed users to do just that. Only .Mac wasn’t free. But even with the $100 per year fee, Apple announced more than100,000 .Mac users after a mere two months.

Today .Mac features even more cool tools like iSync, which manages synchronization between multiple computers’ apps (like contact managers and calendars), as well as peripheral devices like PDAs, phones or iPods. .Mac also features remote access to many of its features, like iCal, AddressBook, e-mail and iDisk.

iDisk has been upgraded too, still with 100 MB of Internet storage (for starters, additional memory is available for a fee), on and offline access (it syncs whenever you have a network connection or add or update files) and it is really easy to use, just like any other folder on your desktop. iDisk, and all the other remote .Mac apps are accessible on any browser-enabled machine.

There. I’ve said my Mac piece, soothed my conscience and hopefully connected with other enterprise Mac users. I realize we are a minority, but credit was long overdue around here.
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