Your Mac as a full peer in a Windows/Office 365 Environment

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Windows 8

Office 365 logo

In my previous two articles on “The Mac as a Full Windows Machine: Getting Started” and “With Windows running on a Mac It’s Time for Apps” it’s now time to consider where we’re at. Basically, your Mac is running Windows in an Office 365 or Exchange hosted system as a full fledged peer. It has all the benefits of using Office 365 plus a tremendous added advantage. Your Mac can run all the Mac applications available for it and there are many.

What about Connectivity

Connectivity

In terms of connectivity, you’re connected. There’s nothing special that you have to do except what you do when you add any machine into an Office 365 or Exchange environment. Running Office 365 on a Mac is a piece of cake. You do nothing more and nothing less than you do setting up any machine on Office 365. The Mac just runs as an equal peer to it’s Windows only brethren.

It really is that simple to run Windows and any Office environment, whether from OSX or Windows, on a Mac. In the Windows world people hear the word Mac and they shudder. I’m not sure why. It is just as simple to add in Macs to your productivity environment as a PC only and run your productivity environment from either Windows or OSX. You’ll have richer experience running it from Windows however, Office for the Mac:2011 provides the bulk of the core critical functionality. You can have both environments running side by side and just flip between them. Your only complexity is in knowing Windows, Exchange and Office 365. Office 365 is actually a very nice product and it is simple to implement unfortunately Microsoft, although they are trying hard, have made this a rather confused mess. This has nothing to do with your Mac. A Windows only user would basically face all the same problems.

Microsoft is trying Hard to Beef up its Mac Offerings

PC Mac guy

Just as a point of reference, when I use the word Mac I mean all things Apple including IOS. With that said, Microsoft’s Mac product Office Mac:2011 leaves a lot to be desired. It’s not that good. Office 2014, the next expected release of Office for the Mac is expected to be considerably better.

It is my guess that Microsoft will work harder to engage the Mac user. With Office for the Mac, they have really the only all-in-one application on the market. Backed by a big name, it is something which is more than interesting. Mac users would probably love it if Microsoft offered them a solid package to do their productivity work on. My suspicion is, with a change at the top (Ballmer’s leaving) we’ll see a more concerted effort to bring the Mac into the Microsoft fold. It makes good business sense so why not do it. Microsoft has had the view mistakenly that they can push their hardware by pushing Office. Ten years ago this might have flown. Today, it doesn’t stand a chance. Microsoft’s products are becoming easily replaceable by good, fully compatible alternatives. Microsoft no longer has a strangle hold on the market with Office or Windows for that matter.

Office love bowe packages

The Benefits of Running a Mac in an Office 365 Environment

There are both benefits here for Microsoft and the customer. As I’ve mentioned, Office 365 is probably the only interesting thing Microsoft is doing. With that said, Office 365 brings a lot to the table. It democratizes the business world dramatically.

A small business user can run the exact same productivity environment as a large Enterprise. That’s because Office 365 is a subscription service. Initially, people balked at this. Upon closer examination, this is nothing but a win-win scenario. Instead of having to buy all the servers and support staff to run those servers you just lease a portion from Microsoft referred to as Office 365. In a snap and with no requirement for installation help other than what Microsoft gladly gives you, you’ll have a full functioning productivity environment equal to the power of the biggest corporations immediately.

This is of appeal to organizations of all sizes. Why spend the money managing such an environment when Microsoft will do it for you with the people who built and are trained in Office 365. And my Office 365 is no different from an Enterprises Office 365. It’s ideal.

Benefits of using a Mac

Imac running Windows

The primary benefit of using a Mac is all the capability it brings to the table. You can run your Mac apps side by side with your Windows apps. Or you can run your Windows in its own dedicated Window and from there you just launch your Windows apps as normal. One thing I like to do is create a workspace just for Windows. It’s like working with a dedicated Windows machine. However, with a quick flip of the mouse or a hotkey you can jump to another desktop where all you Mac apps are running.

The advantage of this approach is you have access to a large variety of good, Mac apps. Information can easily move between your Mac and Windows environment via cut and paste. You could also be running a Mac productivity environment based on iCloud at the same time you‘re running your Work productivity environment. In essence, your one machine can be both your personal and work computer.

From a productivity standpoint this is highly effective and efficient. Office 365 might be giving you your powerhouse productivity environment while iWork might provide a lighter productivity environment. The apps data files are cross platform compatible. My suspicion again is that this trend will only get stronger.

Apple sort of broadsided Microsoft with their iWork cloud based productivity environment for free. At first glance, it does look like quite the broadside. It isn’t really. I see these environments as complementary. It would be very hard to unseat Microsoft as the productivity maven that it is only in that it is in so many companies. Why work against each other. Work with each other but draw on each other’s strengths. That’s what I’m suggesting anyway.

A Collaborative Environment the likes of which most haven’t Anticipated

Steve jobs and Bill Gates

Here we have the makings of a powerful single or dual mode collaborative environment. It benefits both parties equally. However, it is the end user who really benefits. No longer is it this one or that one. It can be either or one more than the other or an equal smattering of both. This is a liberating environment that really allows you to employ the best technologies to get the job done. It allows you deploy the technologies today’s worker demands.

Office 365 is fully enabled by the cloud. Skydrive, which is one of Office 365 cloud components is equally available for the Mac. Any hold out by Microsoft in terms of porting its software to the Mac in a timely fashion I believe will dissipate as the benefits of this approach are realized by all.

Thinking of my writings on workflow, models and the alignment of tools to enable productivity, there is nothing more powerful than a scenario such as this where the best of two worlds is brought together. Competition won’t die. It’ll just be channeled more effectively. If Office 365 is the powerhouse tool I need enabled though with Mac only software such as OmniFocus and DEVONthink then so be it. David Allen’s concept of letting things go to your trusted system to encourage productivity and relaxation is now very realizable.

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