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Switching from a PC to a Mac

Are you thinking of replacing your Windows computer with a Macintosh but a bit hesitant to take the plunge? Here are answers to some frequently asked questions that may help you decide to proceed:

bullet How will I open all my Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents?

You can buy Microsoft Office 2008 for Macintosh. That's right, you can run Office on your new Mac. In fact, MS has a long history of selling Macintosh products. Word was one of the earliest programs for Macintosh, at a time when WordPerfect was the dominant word processor for PCs. Excel wasn't far behind, and PowerPoint followed.

Alternatively, Apple's own iWork package, consisting of the word processor/page layout program Pages, the spreadsheet program Numbers and the presentation program Keynote, can open and save as the corresponding Microsoft documents.

bullet What about my other programs?

Many of the other major programs - Adobe Creative Suite, QuarkXpress, Quicken, to name just a few - are available for the Mac OS, and most everything else has a Macintosh equivalent you'll be very happy with. Apple's iLife suite - including iPhoto, iMovie, and iDVD - will not only replace the equivalent Windows programs but will likely make you wonder why you ever were happy with them

bullet What about my other hardware?

All digital cameras will work with iPhoto, but if you're currently using the manufacturer's software and prefer to keep using it, all major camera brands have Mac versions available. Most recent scanners and nearly all printers have Mac drivers available. If you have an older printer that isn't supported for Macs, odds are you can get a new printer for free after rebate, or nearly so, with your new Mac, and that usually includes an all-in-one printer/scanner/copier. Most recent USB camcorders and most all FireWire camcorders will work with iMovie. External hard drives and thumb drives are supported and, in fact, can usually be used without reformatting.

bullet There are some Windows programs I simply cannot do without. Isn't that a dealbreaker?

A resounding NO! Since 2006, all Macs have Intel processors and can run Windows! Macs come with a utility call Boot Camp Assistant installed, which lets you partition your hard drive and install Windows XP or Vista on it. If you already have an installer CD on hand that meets the requirements (must be a full installer, not an upgrade, on single disc, and, for XP, must include Service Pack 2), you can install Windows and, whenever you need to run one of your essential irreplaceable programs, reboot the computer into Windows.

bullet I have to partition my drive and reboot to switch from Mac OS to Windows and back??!!

Well, no. If you're willing to pay a little to avoid both hassles, there are two commercial programs available - Parallels Desktop and VMware Fusion - that let you install Windows without partitioning your drive and run it while you're running the Mac OS normally. Not only that, you can easily transfer files from one OS to the other by simple drag-n-drop. Both retail for about $80 but can usually be purchased at much lower prices, even sometimes free after rebate, when you buy a new Mac. They both also let you use most any Windows installer discs you have, without the rather rigid Boot Camp requirements. You can also install multiple versions of Windows independently if you'd like.

bullet Okay, you've convinced me. How can I transfer my files?

The easiest way is to buy Belkin's Switch-to-Mac Cable, a special USB cable that links your Mac and PC and includes software for both that makes the transfer a breeze. All your songs, photos, movies, documents, address book entries, even email messages, get put in the right place. One caveat - if your music is in the form of protected Windows Media files, you'll need to first install iTunes on the PC and let it import them and convert them.

Of course, if you're in the Jacksonville area, you can get me to take care of all of this for you.
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"I worked with Mike for approximately 5 years, during which time he provided on-site service to my Apple computer. Over time he helped me purchase new equipment and kept my system up-to-date and functioning beautifully. I wish Mike made house calls to St. Louis--since moving here in 2007 I haven't found anyone local who provides the same level of excellent service at a good price."
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