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Re: Mac conversion from PC

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Title: Re: Mac conversion from PC

It will some what depend on what you intent is.

If you want to do all your structural engineering business on the Mac using the Mac OS and not using Windows at all anymore, then you will be hard pressed to do it.  As noted, there is Microsoft Office for the Mac, so for that type of stuff, you will nominally be fine (unless you are a heavy user of Visual Basic in Excel spreadsheets or elsewhere in Office...Office 2008 for the Mac does NOT support Visual Basic...Microsoft removed it from that version, but supposedly will bring it back in Office 2010 or what every they will call the next version due out roughly end of next year).  There is no actual AutoCAD for the Mac OS (at least that I am aware of), but there are enough alternatives that you basically would be fine in that area as well (you might have to “re-learn” how to do some stuff).  Where you will really have an issue will be structural programs.  Basically, there are no current structural programs for the Mac OS.  MultiFrame used to be a rather good one for the Mac, but their decided to make a Windows version and stop updating the Mac version.  You might find a few minor things here and there, but you will really find that for the structural software, you will still have to run Windows in some form or another (you might be able to use a program called Crossover that allows some Windows programs to run without Windows, but last time I check it, it would not work with does not work with all Windows programs).

If are mainly looking to do Apple hardware and run most stuff in a Mac, but are willing to have Windows on the Mac in some form to run your structural software, then it is very doable.  You could certainly run Office and some AutoCAD alternative on the Mac side and then run Windows in a virtual machine program (like Parallels Desktop or VMWare Fusion) so that you can run your structural programs in Windows within a window all from within the Mac OS (i.e. No need to reboot to get to Windows).  Or you could run Windows in Boot Camp, but that requires you to reboot the computer to switch from the Mac OS to Windows and vice versa.

As to the comment “Besides that, since macs use standard PC components now all you’re really paying for is the ‘look’”, those type of comments lead to the dangerous area of Mac vs. Windows debates (frankly, just asking the question you asked tends to lead to them), which usually become no more than “mine is bigger than yours” type debates.  I will agree that if cost is your primary factor that you think about, then likely a Mac will not “pan out”.  Generally speaking, if one is to do a real comparison between a truly comparable Mac and truly comparable PC with Windows, being sure to match specs, programs included, and account for things that affect cost, then that comparable Mac and PC will usually price out rather close, with the Mac actually coming out on top in a few situations.  Where PCs really have the advantage is choice of options.  There is a WHOLE lot more choice on the PC side.  You can choose to go with a PC that leaves some things off (like if you do not want/need a web cam, then you can usually find one without...all Macs with the exception of the Mac Pro at the top and the Mac Mini at the bottom of the desktop line will have a web cam, whether you want it or not) so as to get to a lesser price.  This is particularly true on the laptop side.  For the desktop side, PCs have the advantage of using your typical modular (and highly upgradeable) tower form factor.  Macs only do that for the high end machine, the Mac Pro, and even then your choice in some components (such a graphics cards) are still rather limited.  The “main” Mac desktops, the Mini and the iMac, are basically laptops in a desktop body.  As a result, you will have to pay the same basic “miniaturization” premium that you pay for a laptop compared to a desktop...laptop parts just cost more because they have to be designed to fit in smaller places.  So, you will generally find that you can get a PC desktop for less than a comparable Mac desktop, unless you care to factor in that some of the comparable parts in that Mac cost more due to their laptop nature.  My point is that claim that Macs only get you the “look” for more money is at best a bit misleading.  I will leave it at that.

As to running the Mac OS on a PC, yes, it is doable.  But, technically it is against the User Agreement/License.  That certainly does not stop many people.  And it is questionable whether or not that provision of the User Agreement/License is enforceable (its enforceability is kind of being tested in court with Apple suing Psystar, which is an on going case, but likely that ruling will not really be applicable to end users...Psystar is a “clone maker”, who then sells PCs with the Mac OS on it).  And it is not really something for the “typical” PC should be somewhat rather “computer literate”...and you should be prepared to have more potential problems as every time Apple releases a patch to the OS for security or what not, you will likely have to “re-cludge” stuff.

All in all, it is a personal choice combined with some real issues as to what you are really trying to accomplish.  FWIW, I use a MacBook Pro (which is what this is being typed on) for my laptop.  I run Windows XP in Parallels Desktop for my stuff that I cannot really do on the Mac OS side of things (i.e. RISA-3D and TEDDs).  In theory, it might also work for the “real” AutoCAD, but I would likely run AutoCAD in my Boot Camp setup (I have a Boot Camp partition with Windows XP as well...mainly for gaming, but also in case I ever needed CAD and wanted to consider AutoCAD)...but since I have do not really have a need for CAD the way I work (someone else does it for me usually...this might change some in the future, however), it is a non-issue right now for me.  For my desktop, I use a PC that I built myself.  I just do not like the Mac desktop options.  I would love a Mac Pro, but frankly its way too much like hitting a fly with a sledgehammer for my needs.  A Mac Mini is too low on the specs for my needs.  So that basically leaves me with an iMac...but I dislike the “all-in-one” form factor.  If Apple did a mid-range tower (basically in the price range and power range of an iMac), then it could be a whole other story for me.  So, I use my PC tower with its multiple drives to boot into multiple versions of Windows (and sometime soon another drive for a version of Linux to “play with”) as my desktop.

So, I would say you first need to really figure out what you hope to accomplish by using the Mac and that will lead you in a direction...and then you will have to make a choice for yourself.  Using a Mac works for me (for laptops at least).  I cannot really say if it will work for you or not.


Adrian, MI

On 8/27/09 7:44 AM, "Richard Calvert" <RichardC(--nospam--at)> wrote:

Stick with PC.  Office products are fine, and autoCAD is available for mac, but you will likely run into issues with add-ons, FEM & calc softwares, etc...  Besides that, since macs use standard PC components now all you’re really paying for is the “look”
If you really want the mac desktop, just buy the mac desktop for a few $$$ and install on a PC computer – all in all you’ll save a significant amount of money this way.

From: Glenn Otto [mailto:ggator1256(--nospam--at)]
Sent: Wednesday, August 26, 2009 10:38 PM
To: seaint(--nospam--at)
Subject: Mac conversion from PC

I am thinking about getting a Mac for the next computer purchase.  For family home use – no problem. But as for my business, I’ve been programming using PC with “Dilbert”software since PC Jr.  Is the transition possible for all my spreadsheets, word processing, CAD, etc.?  What about interfacing with other companies?  Am I asking for problems or should I continue another 30 years until I retire at 85 with PC..  That greeter job at Walmart looks pretty good.
A Structural Engineer, P.C.
Glenn C. Otto, P.E..
Virginia Beach, VA