Finally after twenty plus years of using Windows, I decided to take the plunge and switch to Apple's new iMac Computer. I really did not have a legitimate reason for switching but after years of hearing how Apple made Windows look anemic, I decided it was time to see for myself what it was all about.

I did my homework before purchasing the iMac. The biggest challenge I saw was protecting my investment in Windows software that I used in business and my personal life. I researched the various ways to run Windows under MAC OS and decided that VMWARE was my best option. VMWARE allows you to run a guest operating system (ie Windows) under a host operating system (ie Mac OS). I also determined that I needed to purchase a bootable copy of Windows. My current computer did not ship with a bootable copy of Windows. It had an image on a partitioned drive. Before I could not load it under VMWARE. I decided to purchase Windows 7 Premium Edition. My last software purchase was to be EyeTV, a cable TV interface unit that connects to a USB port on the iMac. My current Windows computer had a built in TV interface. I enjoyed watching TV in the privacy of my office and I was not about to give that up.

I purchased the iMac 27 inch I7 with 8 gigabytes of ram from a local computer dealer. It was twice the price of a comparable Windows computer. This cave me pause but I decided to take the plunge anyway. The staff was young, courteous, conversant in MAC, but they did not talk Windows. I do not speak MAC. I thought I was in a foreign country. I decided that it would be best if I researched, on my own, the questions I had.

I started my conversion efforts by listing all the software and peripheral drivers (eg network printer) I needed to retain and / or update from my current Windows computer. Next I moved all my Windows personal data files (including Outlook e-mail files) to my network drive. At the same time I moved the files, I also cleaned up the folder structures. This was something I had been promising myself to do for a long time. Finally I backed up my entire Windows Computer. I did this because I would be de-installing practically all my Windows software and without a recovery strategy, I would be vulnerable to an interruption in my business activities.

I got my new iMac home and quickly set it up. There are only three parts: a 27 inch monitor (system unit included), a wireless keyboard, and a wireless mouse. I found it a bit difficult to locate the on / off button which is flush mounted in the rear of the unit. However, once turned on, my iMac did a fine job of setting itself up, locating my home network, and connecting to it.

I had no experience with the iMac internet browser Safari so I only used it to download and install FireFox, my internet browser of choice. Next I downloaded and installed all the peripheral drivers I needed. The iMac drag and drop model for installing software was a welcome and pleasant surprise. I was even more surprised when both my network printers and my network scanner performed without any problems. I felt a warm tingle of satisfaction.

All the while I was downloading and installing, I was familiarizing myself with the iMac user interface without the benefit of taking the tutorial. I found the keyboard cumbersome to use. It is simply too small for me and does not have the layout that I am used to. Second I found the iMac anchoring of the application menu bar (eg file, edit, etc.,) to the top of the screen somewhat irritating. In Windows the application menu bar is anchored to the top of the application window. Neither were big drawbacks but after several hours hitting the wrong keys I decided that I needed to get a full size keyboard which I purchased the next day.

My final challenge was the installation of VMWARE, Windows 7, and the software products I needed to run under Windows. I installed VMWARE and Windows 7. I was amazed at how quick and simple the effort was. Lastly I removed each software application from my current Windows computer and installed them under VMWARE. MS Office 2007 Professional, MindManager from Mindjet, Cisco Network Magic, and Adobe 8 Professional were the big ones, and they all installed with no problems. I found it remarkable that all the software functioned properly and that all peripherals worked. Even Cisco's Network Magic appeared happy with the new arrangement. I credit VMWARE for this success.

I was feeling pretty sure of myself at this point and so I decided to purchase and install Office 2008 for Mac. I wanted to begin my transition from caterpillar to butterfly as quickly as possible. I downloaded and installed Office 2008 without problems and checked it out. I found it worked more like MS-Office 2003 than MS-Office 2007. Then came the biggest disappointment. The was no MS-Access in Office 2008 and MS Outlook was replaced by Entourage.

I looked Entourage over and figured I could live with it and began looking for ways to import MS Outlook pst files. I ran into a major road block here as Entourage does not directly import MS Outlook 2007 data. I searched the internet but did not find any conversion software that met my needs. I was finally forced to install MS Outlook under my VMWARE Windows, something I did not want to do, and populated it with my pst files. I am currently keeping MS Outlook as an archive and using Entourage moving forward. I had to upload my contacts from my Blackberry into Entourage. I still can not believe that Microsoft would permit something like this to happen within their own product line.

The last piece of software I installed was EyeTV and again I found the installation effortless and the TV worked well.

The conversion is now complete and my Windows computer has been shut down for good. In conclusion I found the overall conversion experience was good. I am finally getting used to the iMac interface and probably do 75% of my work under MAC OS. However, I still question the conversion cost (approximately $ 3,500) and I am still searching for the productivity gains.