Several months ago I posted an article about MacBook Airs and if they were ready for business. It’s been 4 or so months and I thought I would follow up with my thoughts and findings.
I started out running only the Apple OS X operating system. I had Office 2011 for Mac for my productivity suite and I was able to do many work related tasks. However, I found myself using Citrix or my Windows computer for other work related applications such as our Document Management System iManage, our ticketing system ConnectWise and other web applications that only work fully with Internet Explorer.
I then decided to purchase the external DVD drive so I could install Windows directly on the MacBook Air via the built in Boot camp utility. This lets you dual boot between Windows and OS X as opposed to running a virtualization product such as VMware Fusion or Parallels. I use VMware Fusion on my home iMac and it works great. On a laptop with limited RAM, CPU and battery life, virtualization does not make sense.
Running native Windows via Boot camp works VERY well. The Apple hardware runs Windows as good, if not better, than a computer made to run Windows. Apple includes all the Windows drivers and makes the process very easy. Over time, I found myself using Windows exclusively and never booting into OS X as I use this primarily for work duties. I decided to take the plunge and remove the OS X partition so that Windows is the only operating system. I did this to give more space to Windows as I only have the 64 GB solid state drive.
Some notes to you network admins out there. Apple laptops are missing some key things that Windows laptops have. They don’t have Trusted Platform Module (TPM) chips. TPM chips play an integral role in many laptop encryption products. While you can use encryption software without them, they often require USB keys or something to store the encryption key for the drive. Also, as far as I can tell, Apple computers can’t do a standard PXE boot to use network based imaging. You can however, boot to a Windows PE CD and bring down an image that way. While a little cumbersome, it would allow you deploy Windows on an Apple computer using a standard image.
Overall, I really enjoy using my MacBook Air running Windows. The performance and battery life are great and I can run all of my standard work applications. Unfortunately, I wouldn’t recommend clients to go out and buy Apple laptops for everyone during their next upgrade. There’s still too many issues with management and Windows computers should still be the norm. However, if you have a VIP user that really wants a Mac, it is possible for that user to have a mostly standard Windows experience while running on Apple hardware.