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Overview

Some years ago, there were a great many computer users who paid the Macintosh scant attention, if they were even aware of its existence at all. Living by the passion of a rabidly devout but small (in comparison to the entire market anyway) base of customers, Apple stayed in business by refusing to concede quality or research & development costs to the demands of a price-conscious marketplace.

Then came the iPod. As the iPod soared in popularity, it brought new attention to the fact the Apple, in fact, makes great products. Seemingly overnight, people who had never considered the idea of using a Mac were taking notice, wondering whether it would be something to consider. Building on the success of the iPod, the iPhone took Apple to new heights in creating Macintosh awareness in the computer consumer.

Perhaps you're one of those Windows users who has had a great experience with your iPod or iPhone, and wonder if the elegance of design, the ease of use, and the quality of construction of those products extends to a tool that you probably view as a little bit of a necessary evil: the personal computer.

We've been selling Apple products since before the Macintosh came to market. We've been through all of Apple's ups and downs, and stayed loyal and committed to our style of business: offering great deals along with knowledgeable support and advice. Now that Apple is soaring and more and more newcomers are wondering whether the Mac is right for them, our style of business has proven itself invaluable to the scores of folks who have a ton of questions about the Mac, but find that, in this day and age of self-service shopping via the internet and mass merchants, the answers are a little difficult to come by.

We encourage you to call one of our Mac experts to answer any and all questions you might have. We'll be happy to spend as much time with you as you need to go down the list of your concerns and questions. However, a lot of people have like-minded concerns, so we thought we'd provide answers to some of the most commonly asked questions that you may or may not have thought of asking, as well as give you reasons to consider moving to a Mac.

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Five Great Reasons to Consider Moving to Macintosh

  1. It just works.

    If you've never really used a Mac, trust us when we say that frequent troubleshooting, downloading drivers, trying to make sense of computer-speak when all you want to do is use the thing, is not a requirement of owning a PC. The Mac is designed by people who hate to waste time as much as you do. Since Apple makes both the operating system and the computer, hardware and software just works. In fact, the Mac actually can make computing fun, as well as more productive.

  2. Worry about software later, you'll be creating right out of the box.

    Every new Mac includes the critically acclaimed iLife software suite, with iPhoto, iMovie, iDVD, Garageband and iWeb. Easily organize and create music, videos, podcasts, and digital images. Make high-quality websites, photo books, DVDs, songs, slide shows, music CDs, calendars, cards, prints, podcasts, music videos, and much more. These aren't cheap "gimmie" programs; in most cases they outclass any equivalent in the Windows market at any price.

  3. The most compatible computers on Earth.

    The Mac gives you choices. An Intel-powered Mac can easily run all the major operating systems, including Mac OS X, Vista, Windows XP, Unix and Linux - and with the latest software options, you can even run them side by side. Or just boot into Windows (you have to buy a copy for your Mac of course) and voila! Your Mac is a great PC.

  4. Virtually virus-free.

    Mac OS X was designed for high security, so it isn't plagued by constant attacks from viruses and malware like PCs, and never-ending security dialog boxes like those in Vista. You can safely go about your work - and play - without interruption. Gotta keep that Norton Anti-virus up-to-date on your PC? Not on a Mac.

  5. The most advanced Operating System plus the latest Intel chips.

    No other operating system, Vista included, offers the rich features and simplicity of Mac OS X, which is optimized to squeeze maximum performance out of Intel's latest cutting-edge Core 2 Duo and Xeon processors. Intel loves its relationship with Apple. Why? Because it's just the two of them working on ways to make the computing experience better. In the Windows world, they sit in between two Goliaths in Microsoft and Dell (not to mention all the other smaller hardware manufacturers), and that makes everything a lot harder to get done.

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Top Five Questions About Switching

  1. What About My PC Files?

    Word documents. Excel spreadsheets. Digital photos. Email. Video and music files. Most popular applications for Mac and PC use the same file formats, making it simple to exchange documents with friends and coworkers. In fact, Apple has adopted leading computing standards to make it even easier to work with your files as usual. The same standards make it easy to transfer files from a PC to a Mac.

  2. What about Microsoft Office?

    All Macs easily run the Mac version of Microsoft Office, which includes Word, PowerPoint, and Excel. Office for the Mac has the same features and shortcuts used on a PC - so you won't have to relearn a thing. You'll also enjoy virtually flawless compatibility with Microsoft Office for Windows, making it easy to share documents with friends and colleagues. For collaborative work, Office for Mac connects to Microsoft Exchange servers. Windows Media Player and MSN Messenger are available for the Mac, as well. Of course, any program that's not yet available for Mac — such as Microsoft Access or Project — can still run on your Intel-based Mac when you install Windows plus Bootcamp or Parallels.

  3. Isn't a Mac more expensive than a PC?

    On a point-by-point hardware basis, Macs are very competitive with Windows PCs. And that's before you add the value of the software bundled with the Mac, the fact that Macs aren't attacked by over 100,000 viruses, the longevity of Mac hardware, and the total cost of ownership and maintenance. "I did my homework, and every study I've ever read points out that the cost of ownership of a Mac is always less than the cost of owning any kind of Wintel machine — sometimes it's as little as half the cost." - Dr. Mike Williams, Math Professor Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA. No need to choose from the many (and expensive) flavors of Vista. Every Mac runs the same Mac OS X — with the full set of industry-leading features.

  4. Is it difficult to share files with PC users?

    Again, computing standards to the rescue. Sharing files among Macs and PCs is easy, and the Mac is at home on almost any network, including VPNs. Mac OS X saves data to USB flash keys and burns data CDs and DVDs with cross- platform standards. And Macs can read all PC- formatted discs, including CDs and DVDs (even Zip and floppy disks with an external drive).

  5. Do I have to buy all new peripherals?

    The Mac ships with built-in drivers for most everything you're already using. Most USB peripherals, including scanners, printers, keyboards and mice are Mac compatible. The Mac supports just about every digital camera and DV camcorder via USB or Firewire. Hundreds of cell phones are Mac compatible, and you can connect external speakers via the stereo headphone jack. Bluetooth is also standard on most Macs.

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Tips and tricks for moving to the Mac from Windows

The Mac is capable of running Windows via two different methods. One is called "Boot Camp." Boot Camp is included free with Mac OS 10.5 Leopard, which comes pre-installed on all new Macs.

Link to Apple Boot Camp Beta

With Boot Camp and a licensed copy of Windows, you can boot your Mac just as if it were a "Wintel" PC. And since it's running native, it's just as fast as any other PC on the market.

The other option is to buy a program such as Parallels, the most widely known virtualization program. Once you install Parallels and then Windows into that, Windows runs in a separate window just like any other program. However, unlike the days of old with programs like SoftPC (which ran Windows at miserable speeds within the Mac), Windows applications run just like any other program, because of the Intel processor. You should note that due to the way video cards work as well as other miscellaneous hardware, some games and other minor applications may run slower, or in some cases not at all. But for most uses, Parallels is a fantastic way to have your cake and eat it too.

If you really would prefer not to run Windows on your Mac, and instead are just wondering about all your files, built-in networking might be the simplest way to transfer files from your old PC to your new Mac. Depending on your PC's hardware, you can use your existing home network (including a wireless network) or a single cable to do the transfer.

Most file formats are the same on the Mac as they are on the Windows OS. That is particularly true for photos and documents. Music will often move over without problems as well, unless the song is copy protected. Some online music stores make it difficult to move your music files from one system to another.

Most everything you will need from a Windows system can be brought over by copying your "My Documents," "My Pictures," and "My Music" folders onto a CD-R or USB hard drive (even an iPod). A Mac will see any hard drive that you have used with your old PC. Any disc you burn on the PC will work perfectly in the Mac. USB flash drives would also be perfectly suitable for file transfer.

Once you get the files over to the Mac, use iTunes to import your music. Use iPhoto to import your pictures. Then everything else can be placed in your Documents folder on the Mac.

And what about learning Mac programs? If you know iTunes, you know how to use a lot of Mac software. Apple engineers spend countless hours debating the right way something should work. You'll find your Mac and the programs on it follow consistent guidelines. Learn how to do something in one program, and chances are it'll work the same way in another.

Also remember, you're never alone when you make the move to Mac. A large, involved, and growing community is ready - and eager - to help you.

AppleCare is available for purchase with any Mac. It provides three years of world-class support, and includes expert telephone assistance, global repair coverage, web-based resources, and more. There are dozens of excellent books and hundreds of websites dedicated to making the switch from PC to Mac. These resources can help you under- stand your options, and take control of making the change on your own time.

There's never been a better time to switch!

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Other assorted questions

  • Do all web pages work on a Mac?

    Yes, for the vast majority of web sites. The Mac's web browsers can view any site that functions within generally accepted standards, which, for most of us, is everything we normally use. A few still use Microsoft's proprietary coding that can only be accessed through Internet Explorer. Most sites, though, are moving toward safer, universally accessible technologies.

  • If I send an email on a Mac, can someone on a PC read it?

    Definitely... as long as your spelling isn't too bad and the recipient's email is working.

  • Will documents open in both Mac and Windows?

    Both the PC and the Mac recognize most of the same file name extensions: .txt, .doc, .xls, .jpg, etc. So there's no issue opening any of these common documents, and Word and Excel will open with all of their formatting intact. There are a few programs out there that are designed to open documents created only in their proprietary format, whether Mac or Windows.

  • Can I convert my email in Outlook to a Mac?

    Yes. There are programs available for around $10 that will guide you through the process of transferring email from one platform to another.

  • Is there a good reference book?

    There are many good references, but our favorite: Switching to the Mac by David Pogue.

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