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Letter to the Editors, October 21, 2003

Every so often, one of our readers takes issue with something we've published, and writes in to tell us about it.

Every so often, one of our readers takes issue with something we've published, and writes in to tell us about it. Henry K., a member, recently dropped us a line to dispute a statement Tim Scannell made in the mobile management section of our Ask the Experts feature. Henry's argument, and Tim's reply, follows:

Henry K. wrote:


I just read a Q&A link by Tim Scannell that is totally inaccurate. The article in reference is:

I would like to correct Tim on a recommendation he gave to a Mac user. Going with Linux and getting a Linux PDA is not the solution. You tell a Mac user to go Linux is like telling them to jump off a bridge. I'm an IT consultant. I've used Windows PC's for years. As a matter of fact I know all OSes. I know Linux very well. Linux is not ready for prime time. Since MacOS X was released, I've moved away from Windows almost entirely for obvious reasons. I exclusively use MacOS X; it's the world's greatest OS. I have a PocketPC PDA running PocketPC 2002. Most Mac users I know use the Palm based PDAs and they have no problems. The user in question stated that Handspring products aren't supported for Mac is a huge farce. Palm based PDAs are far more supported on Mac's than any other PDAs. On my Mac, I sync my PocketPC with no problems. Though, I had to purchase an app called PocketMac. This is the answer to Activesync for the Mac. I can sync everything with this. I have MS Office X on my Mac. MS Entourage is Outlook for the Mac. I have my e-mail, contacts, notes, calender, etc. I sync all those items to my PocketPC back and forth to my Mac. The only drawback is that the Mac cannot parse through the handwritten notes on my PocketPC due to proprietary issues with Microsoft's Ink recognition technology. I can even install apps whcih can only run on Windows on my PocketPC from my Mac as a host.

I believe any Mac user who deserves an answer should get it from someone who has the experience. So in correcting Tim, please try to enlighten him with this information.


Microsoft Mac Business Unit:

Henry K.

Tim responded:


I agree that experience is a terrific teacher. However, let's clarify a few points before handing over the dunce cap and sending me back to Macintosh grade school. First of all, the Mac user was not complaining about synchronizing a PocketPC or a Palm-based system with a Macintosh, which is totally possible and has been for quite some time. What he was looking for -- at least the impression I got from his query -- is a 'Mac PDA' that totally duplicates the graphical 'look and feel' of that environment, and does not just re-package and synchronize data in Palm or PocketPC format. The closest the world has ever gotten to this is with the defunct Apple Newton, which was manufactured by Apple and I think set the standard for many PDAs to come.

Also, don't discount Linux as a credible rival to the Mac OS. According to one very reputable researcher, shipments of Linux client operating environment licenses in 2002 just about equaled shipments of Mac OS licenses. Windows, of course, was the easy victor, claiming close to 94% of the worldwide market. However, the compound annual growth rate of both Windows and Linux shipments is expected to average about 7.5% through 2007, which may not be the case for the Macintosh environment. Also, leading vendors such as IBM Corp. and Hewlett-Packard have long been champions of Linux as an operating environment for smaller-format client computers -- gain not as a primary platform, but for specialized and perhaps vertical applications.

I might add that Linux is also showing itself in a new generation of smartphones, most recently from Motorola, Inc., which unveiled its A760 device that combines a personal information manager, a video player, a music player and an instant-messaging tool. It is expected to be available in the U.S. within a year or so. Word has it that Motorola opted for Linux because the OS and there s the potential for lots of developers to quickly create neat and small-footprint applications for mobile devices. This may be Apple's greatest challenge, since its consistently limited market share does not present an enticing carrot for developers to chase. These Linux phones also run Java applications, which is another incentive for developers. I will agree that telling Mac users to switch to Linux may create a rush to the nearest bridge, but Mac users have always been an emotional bunch. Instead of jumping, I would suggest pausing for a moment to take in the grand view of things. The view from the top is easily more enjoyable than the quick trip to the bottom.

- Tim Scannell

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