The company I work for (sorry, no free SEO for them) is currently evaluating two new platforms for their "enterprise" personal computer deployment. Like most companies, my employer relies on Microsoft products. Not necessarily because they are good, but because they are "industry standard." We all use (and hate) Outlook. We run an Exchange server. We all use MS Office. Those are the grim realities of doing business.
But for some people in the company (many, even), Windows is an evil that we endure most begrudgingly. Half or more of the developers, QA, and Ops folks use Linux as their primary workstation. For years, it was just whatever distribution an individual wanted. There was a mix of Fedora, SUSE, Mand
rakeriva, and whatever else. People had varying degrees of success with administering their own boxes, but IT was out of the loop and unable to help administer any of the developer workstations. This also meant that IT had no control over the workstations and certain aspects of the corporate infrastructure had to remain "open" in order for the outliers (geeks) to do their jobs.
A great idea was floated that IT would install and configure a "corporate vetted" Linux distribution. Everyone would get new hardware (the same hardware) and everyone would get the same Linux installation. This seemed like a compromise situation for everyone, which it was. Developers gave up absolute control over their workstations; IT could establish procedures for Linux administration; new hires would not spend a couple of days installing and configuring their machines before being able to perform simple tasks. This was deployed and it went over like the Vasa. Shortly after deploying CentOS 4.5 (a server-oriented distribution) for our (desktop) workstations, we started having issues and requesting IT to help fix them. And we were given sudo and told "don't break anything or you get to fix it."
Finally after much complaining and requesting of newer (different) distributions, we are now doing limited testing on Ubuntu 7 (Gutsy Gibon) and Mac OS X. I'm currently in the Ubuntu test pool. This "new-fangled" Linux desktop is a bit foreign to me. I have spent the last eight years almost exclusively in a WindowMaker world. I find it simple, fast, and easy. It has just enough features to be useful and not too many as to get in the way. Now I'm using Gnome. I don't have a lot to say about it other than it has more eye candy. It certainly makes finding useful applications easier, because they are built into the menu system. At the same time, I know that WindowMaker has the ability to import menu items from external sources. So the theory would be that I just need to find the right configuration magic to bring in the Gnome or KDE menu and I could get access to all of the useful menu items at no extra charge. For now, I'm trying a "modern" window manager and desktop environment. So far, I don't hate it.
Also on the horizon is my turn in the Mac test group. IT is looking at our choice of a Mac Pro desktop or a MacBook Pro laptop. I know which I look forward to. I need to confirm that doing Office-related activities are still easy through the Mac. I have some experience with this as my wife has an iBook that she got for school with Office Student/Teacher installed. Thing mostly work with that. Mostly. For some reason, her classmates managed to always build PowerPoint presentations in Window that would kill PowerPoint for Mac. I could open them fine on a Window box, but the Mac always choked. I'm sure it has something to do with incompatibilities or bugs that Redmond never found. I find it ironic that the Mac version of Office always warns you to make sure that you check that your document will be compatible with other versions of Office. This never happens in Windows and I have yet to see an Office document authored on a Mac that repeatedly crashed Office on a Windows box. But I digress. Mac Good. Me want MacBook. MMMmm. MacBook Goood!