Today's the Macworld Expo in San Francisco. Mac fans all over the world, and about half of the Jive office, are eagerly anticipating Steve Jobs' keynote. The number of Mac users here is significant, given that almost no one used Macs 16 months ago.

 

We've seen a pretty amazing shift in the types of computers we buy our new hires over the past months. It all started 2 years ago when Intel-based Mac computers were announced. Shortly after that virtualization software like Parallels came out and since then it's been easier than ever to make the transition. Around the same time we announced two new benefits at Jive: first, a credit for employees wanting to buy their own personal computer and second, the choice of platform for their main work computer. The credit was meant to address the fact that some people wanted to work at home but had old computers. Since a home computer is also for personal use we offer to pay for some of it but not all. The policy has worked really well and our employees are able to work at home on good machines. The second part of the policy was mostly for new hires, though people who have old computers at work (because they've been here at while) are eligble too. The choice of platform acknowledged the fact that some people are more productive on a Mac and didn't want to learn something else. I'd guess that most people choose laptops but many choose the new iMacs.

 

At first, there were a handful of us willing to figure out the best OS X environment and application stack for Jive. The good thing is that most of the applications we use are still usable on the Mac -- web applications, Java IDEs and creative apps (Photoshop). For email, some were happy with the built-in Mail application, others wanted to use Outlook (like me ). Once we started using Parallels it became possible to run apps like Outlook or even use a few of the Windows apps we are familar with. iWork '08 has made office files easy to deal with -- it'll open any Word, Excel or Powerpoint app out there. Overall, it took a good 6 months to iron out the kinks and give IT a handle on supporting us (in fact, most of them use Macs!). Running a non-homogenous IT environment is definitely challenging but so far they've been able to make it work. One thing I'd recommend is a policy of needing to prove your platform. That is, we didn't want to have our employees request a Mac because they thought it looked cool. You had to actually be a Mac user and be familiar with the OS.

 

Overall, we definitely spend a little more for Macs but I think it's worth it. People like the choice of platform (we offer Windows or Linux as well) and I personally think the productivity gains are worth it. We're all looking forward to what Apple announces today.