A military research laboratory threw out its Macs in favor of all Wintel systems — and taxpayer money was wasted, according to a technician who worked in the laboratory. Our source has requested anonymity and asked MacCentral to leave out the specifics of the lab itself to keep him out of trouble.
For six months he worked as a Mac computer tech at a military research facility, supporting over a dozen Macs. He was also told that he could put in a request for any hardware needed to perform his job.
“After less than four weeks it became quickly apparent that it was what I call a ‘bait and switch.’ I spent over 98 percent of my time working on PCs rather than Macs, and my request for a Mac on my desk went unheard,” he told MacCentral. “After the first week, I purchased an iBook out of my own pocket just so I could do my job. It wasn’t until after five months that I finally got a Mac on my desk — when it was taken from a user who was forced to use a Dell. As for the Mac users themselves, they were competent and rarely needed assistance. At the time of my departure, they were being strong-armed out of their Macs and forced to use Dells, even for desktop publishing and video editing.”
The facility was dedicated to research, not engineering. Researchers and scientists need computers that they can actually use, not fight with, he said.
“Roughly five to 10 years ago, this facility was 50/50 Mac-PC,” he added. “But, ultimately, the powers that be believed that no user should have any control what so ever of their PC. It was believed that by having homogenous, standard desktop PCs with user logins that don’t allow anyone to install any software, that support costs and downtime would be reduced. It was quite the opposite at first.”
Roughly every four weeks the military would mandate that patches be applied to the numerous Microsoft operating systems and software such as Office, he said. The support staff (himself included) spent more time patching Microsoft products than actually fixing general day-to-day problems, he added. Meanwhile, the Macs never had any security problems or major virus concerns.
“After a few months an Apple Federal representative contacted us,” he said. “We met with him and he, of course, touted the features of Mac OS X and the latest hardware to a government official and myself. When the Apple rep wanted to arrange a time to have the decision makers sit down with the latest iMac and OS X, he was immediately shot down with the excuse that they have no desire to look as this stuff. Shortly thereafter, I contacted this Apple rep to follow up but got no response. We never even saw him again. It was reasoned that they didn’t want more Macs because of support costs.”
When he brought up the possibility of the Macs eventually migrating to OS X, he said that the Unix support staff that was already in place (they supported SGI and SUN, which were not being thrown out) could easily assist with Mac OS X concerns because of its BSD Unix base. But his advice was ignored because they wanted to standardize on the Microsoft platform, “which had proven itself over and over again to be flawed — especially in a high-security environment.”