Saturday, April 04, 2009

Book Review: Mac Migration: The Small Business Guide to Switching to the Mac by Jason Rich

As an avid reader of Entrepreneur magazine, I had very high hopes for this book. More and more businesses are switching from Mac to PC and need a guide focused on how to get typical business functions done on the Mac. The book completely skips the iLife suite and takes the reader from the decision to buy a Mac over to the key tools a business owner needs in order to run a business on their Mac. Unfortunately, the book is incomplete, inconsistent and needs to check its facts.

The first few chapters of the book helps the reader decide which Mac to buy and how to set it up, then takes the reader through the built-in contact management functions and then onto the Microsoft Office suite and,finally, backups. This is not a how-to guide but rather an overview of the considerations to make when switching to the Mac and whether your business will be able to make that switch. By the time you have actually made the switch, the book will be of little value to you. Business owners on the fence about switching to the Mac will find comfort that it can be done and there are tools out there to help them do the job.

The author focuses too much on his personal preferences and has a recommended suite of hardware and software to buy, giving the reader few options if they wish to deviate from the path. For example, he devotes 60 pages to Microsoft Office but barely mentions iWork or Open Office which are both extremely viable alternatives for the average company switching to the Mac. Similarly, the penultimate chapter of the book mentions that every business should own the full $299 version of Adobe Acrobat when much of its functionality is already built into Leopard. The other programs he mentions are extremely expensive and often unnecessary for even advanced business owners. Why does he recommend Photoshop CS3 to a business user? This chapter could convince a business that it is too expensive to switch to the Mac.

The final chapter of the book is all about backups and Rich does an excellent job of explaining the various backup options the average business owner should consider. He goes through not only the Apple options, but third party hardware and software as well. Alongside with backups, Rich then covers (in the Appendix) something every Mac user should have: a full record keeping worksheet of all the important information about your Mac and the hardware and software that goes along with it.

Unfortunately, Rich is just plain wrong on some of his facts. Each chapter had a few minor facts wrong that would not impact the average business owner, but still reduces Rich's credibility as an expert and an author. The explanation of how to install software assumes that the software will begin installing as soon as you put in the CD, when in reality most programs that come on optical media require you to double click something to begin the install process. Rich also explains grey-market hacked Apple clones, which should never be used in a business. Rich even admits they haven't been tested nor are they probably legal, so I'm not sure why a business book would mention them. Entrepreneur Press is not used to editing technical books and it shows.

Pros: Cuts right to the chase regarding those aspects of the Mac most interesting to business owners
Cons: Extremely biased and doesn't empower the reader to make their own choices

2 out of 5 dogcows

Article was republished by the Lawrence Apple User's Group 2.0 here as well as other groups listed on the right