Standard communication apps such as Microsoft Office, Microsoft Outlook (called Entourage on the Mac), Lotus Notes, and Novell GroupWise all have native Mac versions. And Macs can run pretty much any application delivered via a browser, whether or not it has a native Mac version. "Let's face it, for an awful lot of users, the PC is basically an e-mail and Web-browsing machine, with maybe a spreadsheet and/or word processor," says Ezra Gottheil, an analyst at Technology Business Research.
And the Mac's ability to run Windows in a virtual machine ensures that Windows-only apps, including Web-delivered software dependent on Microsoft's ActiveX technology, means Mac users can be full participants. Social networking developer Facebook is one company that relies on running Windows on Macs via virtualization as a key pillar of its Mac adoption method.
"We're hearing lots of companies say they'll spend US$89 for Fusion or Parallels and support Windows applications on the Mac," says consultant Bajarin. "However, if the user has a problem with the Mac OS side, they tell him to go to one of the Genius Bars at a local Apple Store."
IT uses the tools it already has to manage the Windows VM, which protects the company from any security issues on the Mac side. "They also like that the VM is a file they can back up," says Yankee Group's Howe. "If the Windows desktop gets infected, they can simply go back to a previous copy."
Another option is to boot the Mac directly into a Windows partition using Apple's included Boot Camp software, though this option does not allow simultaneous use of Mac and Windows applications as virtualization-based Fusion and Parallels do. And because it is a partition, there's no single VM file to back up and restore from; instead, IT has to handle the Boot Camp partition as it would an actual PC's drive.