Request for apple product

At the risk of starting the whole Apple vs. PC feud, I’m going to ask my question.

We are a Microsoft shop. We have no Apple devices in the building except for the occasional iPhone or iPad. Our file server is a Windows Server, we have standardized on Office 365. Every employee either has a laptop or a thin client that connects to a Windows Remote Desktop Server.

We hired a new person to head up our Youth department and purchased her a very nicely configured laptop. It is my understanding she is supposed to be working with other Youth leaders - adults of various ages. Aside from a yearly youth rally and a family event, I don’t think this person will have much dealing with actual teens. She may have access to people in our Young Adult program.

Today was her orientation. When she learned we were a PC shop, I sense a shift in her demeanor. In fact, I felt myself “lose” her. She said young people use apple products because you can share better.

Things seem so portable anymore. I remember when you couldn’t share things because of the great divide between macs and pcs, but I feel like the internet has eliminated all of that. When you share video or audio, your app takes over delivery. When you share files there are PDFs. Texting is cross platform. Graphics cross both platforms. I get that Prezi is used in colleges in place of Powerpoint but even that crosses platforms. We use Zoom for video conferencing which has apps for various platforms.

What am I missing? Is this just an example of someone not wanting to learn new software or is there really some hole that only an apple can fill.

I know there are more video editing apps for mac users but we’re already doing that on our iPads and phones for short videos. For larger projects, we have other employees who do all the heavy lifting where video editing is concerned.

I want to make sure she has the she needs, but I need to make sure it doesn’t affect collaboration with the rest of her team too.

Most of the parishes she will deal with are PC shops too. Out of 97, only 2 use apple products.

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I suggest bringing it up with HR. Perhaps they need to include PC skills in the job description. I don’t think there is a measurable difference between Mac and PC, just a preference. And if she feels that strongly about Mac, perhaps an agreement could be reached allowing her to use a personal Mac device but basically outside your network without support.

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I think it’s wrong to make generalization statements regarding any particular age/group preferring either platform in this day and age. As you rightfully pointed out, the Internet (and especially cloud services like Office 365, Zoom, etc.) have really leveled the playing field. It’s now more of a “what tool are you personally most familiar with using.” Not “which do you prefer” or “which do you want.” Like anything else in life, the tool we’ve used most often is probably the tool we’re going to be most effective with.
While I don’t get it, my father-in-law still uses Excel to do all sorts of things…even writing letters to the newpaper editor. Yes, he uses Excel to write letters to the newspaper editor. WHY? Because Excel was the tool he used 8 hours a day for 15 years before he retired. So he knows how to use Excel and is comfortable using Excel.

Our approach to this question/concern at every one of our clients is to talk with the user about what platform they are most familiar with and have used most recently. If that’s Windows, great, they get a Windows machine. If that’s macOS, great, they get a Mac.

The platform tools you mentioned using are cross-platform already. You can absolutely connect to a Windows Remote Desktop Server from a Mac. You already mentioned Office 365 and Zoom working great on both.

The biggest thing you have to consider is how you, as IT, can support the Macs. Will that require new education on your part? Will that require new tools/processes for your team? Is it worth the investment in those things for one user? For 20 users? Or what if, as Ben suggested, you allow the use of personal devices (with appropriately limited support) but empower access to your managed toolset/applications.

We have clients using about every variation of the above that you can imagine. But my personal opinion is that if you start drawing hard lines on what platform you allow/don’t allow, you’re probably going to run into more and more conflicts like this.

I hope this was helpful. And I’m happy to answer any specific questions you might have on approach, management tools, etc.

I devote a full chapter to this topic in my new book because it’s still a topic of major concern for many churches. I suggest looking that over if you have it.

The bottom line is that both Windows and macOS are good network citizens, and both share files easily in Office (any recent version). The cost issue is an HR one— on which platform will you get the most output from your team members? HR costs are way more than system costs.

Hoping that helps,
Nick

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I agree with most of the thoughts already conveyed here.

As the person who defended “PC’s Only” for years, I finally switched to a mac because leadership uses macs and I wanted to relate and understand a little better what they were needing that we weren’t providing from the Windows side of things.

While I believe Windows is still the more advanced and forward thinking operating system, I absolutely see the draw with MacOS.

As an IT director in charge of spending church finances on technology, I lean towards Mac these days because Office 365 removes the need for being joined to the domain. We sync desktop and documents to OneDrive, and require the use of Office (not Pages/Numbers/etc). It has been a pretty big win, and with Mosyle Business, we’re even able to log in to macs using our O365 usernames and passwords (currently in beta, and will be an add-on cost in the future).

We’re still predominantly PC, and still an AD Domain, but now we offer the choice to staff. Either a Dell laptop, Mac Laptop, or desktop PC. I’ve learned that serving staff and meeting them where they are (within reason) helps the organization push forward to their goal (similar to Nick’s comment).

If someone asks specifically what would I recommend for a particular use case, it still typically comes down to preference. The productivity cost of learning an unfamiliar system usually accounts for more sideways energy than waiting for a computer to accomplish a task these days. A case could be made for PCs to render video, but since our whole video team has decades of Apple muscle memory, we’d be losing a lot just to trim off a bit of render time.

The job description listed the software skills needed for the job – all Microsoft which is cross platform.

Using her own equipment isn’t feasible because of legal restrictions on that score.

She isn’t allowed to communicate directly with students due to our child protection rules so iMessage shouldn’t be an issue. (Kaizala and Yammer are two communication platforms we are poised to roll out that I’m excited about…but again…she is only allowed to communicate with adults.) We also use Zoom for video meetings.

I did try to ask questions about what she needed but she leaned pretty heavy on the “young people use macs” argument. That is why I wanted to query you, my colleagues, because I knew you’d help me figure out where I need to educate myself further. Having been away from Apples for 25 years, I didn’t know if I was being naive about my view of the internet and mobile apps as an equalizer or if I was too old to know what “young people need.”

I also understand that people can be more immediately productive if they use familiar tech, but in doing so, she could isolate herself from the rest of the team and I need to keep that in mind too. For example, her secretary is a PC user. If she strays too far from Microsoft, she will eliminate her ability to co-author content.

My goal is to find a happy medium. I’m a control freak where my network infrastructure is concerned, but I pride myself on helping people do what they need to do. I hope that’s her goal too. Time will tell.

On another note, since I was told to buy her a new laptop, it will break my heart if that money is wasted.

I’m not sure what your organizational structure is, but it may be worth asking some questions that allow her to share her expertise while trying to determine what she needs to best do her job.

I’ve been involved in student ministries in some fashon or other for most of my career, and I would disagree with that generalization, but I could speculate that she might be talking about students using iMessage or something like that. If she can’t use Apple products, then the best path forward might be to go back to her original statement (“You’ve said young people use Apple products because you can share better, what do you mean by that?”/“What are they using”). Then you can continue to ask probing questions until you identify what the problem is (“Do you anticipate communicating with students using service x”/“What about students not using Apple devices”/“In what ways would using a windows computer prevent you from doing your job well”). The more questions you ask, the more likely that you will be able to get down to the root problem. It might be that she is unfamiliar with Windows, or it might just be that she really is used to getting her text messages on her computer from her iPhone. The best way to find the “Yes in the No” so to speak though is to continue asking questions until you determine what the felt needs of a user are, so you are better equipped to provide a solution that makes sense for them within your organizational constraints.

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Great advice Steve!!

I hate to start off a working relationship on a sour note. Maybe at this time leave it alone. Businesses provide resources for their employees all the time, everything from uniforms to desks to vehicles. Employees need to learn to use the tools required. Eventually peer pressure may win her over, or maybe she’ll leave because it’s too hard to adapt.

From an IT viewpoint, you have a lot of options as mentioned. We’re a mixed OS environment and the sticking point always seems to be the upfront cost of a Mac. I just don’t have the financial resources to provide everyone the custom tools they want. And those who do have Macs know it may be years before they get a replacement.

Definitely ask more questions. We’ve moved to first considering 1) what their job requires to 2) what their preference is.
A year ago we hired our first HR Director. That position doesn’t require a Mac and we setup a PC. Her boss was on a mac and thought it would be better for her to have the same, but, gave her a choice. She said she wanted a Mac, so, we prepped one for her. Turns out, she only chose a mac because her nephew recommended it. She couldn’t use it at all! We had already re-deployed the PC, so she complained that we didn’t have her up and running day one, smh. So make sure you understand why she has the perceptions she does.

I can’t think of any other type of organization where users are given a choice between platforms.

From a cost perspective, we’re not finding much of a cost difference between the two platforms when purchasing similar specs, case size, etc. We did finally get Jamf to manage and deploy the Macs, although we’re considering switching to Addigy. That management piece has been a game changer.

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I see both sides of this. If you’re not equipped to support an manage macOS devices, then she needs to deal with it. However, if you see an opportunity to better serve everyone, and allow people some flexibility in their device choice, I would allow it. When I arrived in my current role, we were phasing out Macs. I pushed to allow them, and also brought in Chromebooks. We now offer the choice of the 3 major OS to our staff. It isn’t a huge deal to manage them. 90% of what we do is web based. What isn’t is usually available on all platforms. I think it boils down to budget, HR, and capability of you and your team (if applicable).

So…to summarise…

  • You’re an all PC shop

  • The parishes your new employee will be working with are almost all PC shops

  • A nice laptop PC has already been purchased for the new employee

  • The only reason provided for using a Mac instead is not actually evidenced in any way

Sorry to be a little direct…but if a new employee came into my organisation and expected the IT dept to support a whole new platform just for them, buy another computer when one was already purchased, had no desire to adjust to the organisation they had just joined and had no valid reason for the above…I’d be a little concerned!

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Ronnie/Jag, you are my hero.

I did buy her a nice laptop. An awesome laptop in fact. And all of your bullet points are spot on.

I am concerned because I was halfway through orientation when the issue came up and I watched her check out of the rest of the meeting. I lost her. I kept having to do stuff to draw her attention back to the training. At one point she was reading something written by the person she replaced on a whiteboard. I was tempted to snap my fingers. I’ve never seen anything like it in a professional setting.

I think I’m going to have my hands full with her.

Glad to be of service.
I probably just have a slightly different perspective…my involvement in church IT is a voluntary position - my main job is central IT in an organisation with ~30,000 users. When you are used to managing IT in an enterprise environment you understand that the goal is the effective management of the whole…not the indulgence of the personal preferences of users who can only see things from their individual “home computer” perspective.

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My preference is still PCs as there are still software that might not run on Macs, alot more hardware options and alot more pricing options as well compared to Macs.

For video editing and creative work, Macs are still great and we do use them alot but I do notice that there is a growing trend of Mac users moving to PCs for Creative and Video work. Cost-Performance value for Macs isn’t as attractive anymore. And the switching costs have diminished due to the web platforms.

As an IT Manager the ideal environment is a homogeneous one to make it easier to manage and maintain but to make the workplace more interesting, personal choices can be given more weight. But it also depends on the type of business your organisation is in; the higher the security risks, the more homogeneous the IT environment becomes from my observation.

There is a reason individual employees generally don’t make these decisions. They aren’t qualified to make them. They have no idea what it means to support two different environments, the cross platform issues that exist with some applications, the cost differences and a hundred other things that come into play. The assertion that young people use Macs is not supported by actual market share data by age. Preferred? Yes. But actually bought and exclusively used? No.

Steve’s approach of asking questions is good. But you don’t want her to think that she gets to make the decision.

Nick’s comments were good too. Churches have been served very well with either technology. The worst choice in my view is not Mac or PC. It’s a mixed environment. That is the hardest environment to make work and support.

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