Dartmouth College, long a bastion of Macs, is increasingly going Wintel, according to an
Institute of Higher Learning
The move is designed to “eliminate persistent problems the college has had generating reports from its administrative programs and databases.” The story doesn’t give any specifics on what sort of problems these were, but says that Dartmouth uses Oracle Financials for accounting, SCT Banner for payroll and student records, and Oracle databases.
The Institute of Higher learning report says that “specific software programs and databases don’t always work the same way with both the Netscape and Internet Explorer browsers, or with both the Macintosh and Windows operating systems — or even with different versions of the same operating system.” Such glitches often prevent even Web-based administrative systems from working.
In the fall of 1998, 80 percent of all freshmen fulfilled Dartmouth’s computer requirement by buying Macs. But among students entering last fall, 80 percent were Windows users. And Dartmouth no longer recommends that students buy Macs, as it once did, according to the report.
“The problems that Dartmouth has had trying to get Macs to run the institution’s administrative software are problems that other colleges have had, and they partly explain why Apple Computer has seen a continuing decline in its share of the computer market in higher education,” the Institute of Higher Learning reports.
The article estimates that Apple’s share of the market has slipped from about 30 percent in the mid-90s to about 9 percent at present. A declining market share in higher education “is something that we need to acknowledge,” Cheryl Vedoe, Apple’s vice president for education marketing and products, is quoted as saying.
“That’s not been something that just happened all of a sudden,” she said. “Regaining that share is also not going to happen overnight.”
Apple is hoping that Mac OS X and new products such as the Xserve rackmount server will help reverse the trend. She told the Institute of Higher Learning that Mac OS X, with its Unix underpinnings and its use of network and document standards, “makes us far better able than we’ve ever been to fit right into the existing infrastructure.”
Though some analysts aren’t optimistic about Apple’s long-term future in higher ed, many, along with higher-education officials acknowledge that Apple has taken steps in recent months to cause colleges to take a second look.
“For the first time, Apple has offered to cut its prices by $100 to $150 per machine to match Dell Computer’s prices for the Optiplex GX 240 and Optiplex GX 260 desktop and Latitude notebook computers that Dartmouth will offer for sale to freshmen in the fall,” Institute of Higher Learning reports. “Apple recently announced a new education computer, the eMac, for higher-education and elementary and secondary institutions. The eMac is the low-end desktop model that Dartmouth will offer in its computer store in the fall. The high-end Apple desktop model will be a PowerMac G4. Two notebooks, an Apple iBook and a PowerBook G4, will be offered as well.”