By Erik Frieberg, VP of Marketing, End-User Computing, VMware
Microsoft Windows has dominated enterprise desktops for close to three decades but it appears its reign is coming to an end. As BYOPC and BYOD continue to transform the enterprise, Macs have become a popular and preferred option compared to Windows PCs. However, complex questions and challenges have risen around the support of these two very different platforms.
Since business computing has very unique requirements with legacy Windows desktop infrastructure and application ecosystem, we decided to dig a little deeper to try and understand what IT administrators think about the growing heterogeneous environment.
As a result, VMware commissioned a survey of 376 IT professionals conducted by Dimensional Research to assess the current state of enterprise desktops and created a report titled “The Apple Enterprise Invasion.” We are releasing the results for the first time today and they clearly show that Windows is losing its grip on the enterprise.
Perhaps the biggest takeaway from the results is that Windows is no longer the platform of choice in the enterprise with users overwhelmingly preferring Macs. User preference is the top reason given by IT administrators as to why their organization supports Macs with 73 percent of IT administrators identifying it as the main driver.
As a result, it should come as no surprise that the study found that 66 percent of businesses are already using Macs in the workplace today. But as we all know, end-users will work around corporate IT if they don’t get their way but the study found that a large majority of companies – more than 70 percent – officially support Macs as a corporate endpoint.
In addition, Windows PCs clearly have a perception problem with the top three justifications from employees for wanting a Mac being:
- Macs are easier to use (73 percent)
- Macs are cooler (52 percent)
- The Mac display is better than Windows (42 percent)
While employees clearly prefer Macs, there are challenges from an IT perspective that Macs must overcome before they can replace Windows PCs in the enterprise.
Although end-users think Macs are easier to use, IT administrators have a different perspective with 75 percent who feel that Macs are not easier to support than Windows PCs. And contrary to popular opinion, 75 percent of IT administrators said that Macs do not offer increased security advantages.
Adding to the challenge, many critical business applications cannot run on Macs today because they were designed for Windows. In fact, 64 percent of IT administrators indicated that none or only some of their enterprise applications run on Macs today.
When considering Macs for use in the enterprise, the top capabilities that are most valuable to IT administrators are all related to productivity and security:
- Ability to run Microsoft Office on a Mac (59 percent)
- Ability to enable secure access to enterprise applications (59 percent)
- Ability to run Windows on a Mac (41 percent)
As you can see, supporting a new OS platform is not as easy as one might think. Application support and compatibility issues are not things that end-users think about but they are critical for IT departments to fully assess and consider.
Bridging the Gap
Fortunately, virtual desktops can serve as a helpful tool to bridge the gap between two disparate operating systems and it’s not just VMware claiming this. The survey found that 89 percent of IT professionals stated that it would be valuable to have a virtual desktop that can run Windows on a Mac and 91 percent of respondents valued the ability to run the same virtual desktop on multiple platforms such as Windows, Mac and Linux.
Virtual desktops allow organizations to standardize on the Windows platform and support legacy business critical applications without any interruption to business while still giving employees the option to select the computer of their choice.
For companies, the choice is very clear – they need to respond to end-user demand for Macs in the enterprise or they will find it difficult to recruit and retain the best talent on the market. They also need to provide IT administrators the tools to support a heterogeneous desktop environment otherwise there will be disruption to the business. Virtual desktops such as Fusion Professional can be a tremendous help for companies in this situation.